When you’re trying to lose weight, cravings are just about the worse thing in the world.
They can challenge your will power, threaten your dedication and make dropping pounds infinitely more difficult.
And while simply saying “no” to these cravings might seem like the obvious answer, the truth is it’s much more challenging than that.
After all, if you’ve been eating salads for lunch and avoiding dairy, soda and fried foods for months now, a burger starts to sound pretty darn good, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, cravings like these are never-ending – especially if you’ve made drastic changes to what you eat. After all, “old habits die hard,” as they say!
These cravings can be even harder to combat if you’re making one of these seven major mistakes:
- Skipping breakfast (or eating too small a breakfast) – Stop saying “I’m not hungry” in the morning, and carve out some time to get in a full, well-balanced meal. Skipping breakfast or simply not eating enough in the morning can lead to more cravings later on the day – and that means more calories consumed. According to studies, eating a breakfast of at least 350 calories can reduce cravings of both sweet and savory foods throughout the day. Make sure you work in a protein (like an egg), some complex carbs and some veggies into each of your breakfasts for optimal results.
- You’re keeping tempting food around – If you’re surrounded by delicious, tasty food you love but can no longer eat, of course you’re going to crave it! You’re going to feel deprived, and you’re going to be constantly reminded of that deprivation every time you open the fridge or pantry. To help keep cravings at bay, rid your home of all crave-worthy foods and drinks. Toss out the Girl Scout cookies, dump out your candy jar and throw away all those sugar-laden sodas and diet drinks.
- Your cravings make you feel guilty – Apparently, associating unhealthy foods with feelings of guilt can actually lead to more cravings – and giving into those cravings more often. Rather than thinking foods are “bad” or letting them get the best of you, instead associate foods with celebration. Want a piece of cake? Save it for a celebratory time – like your best friend’s birthday, perhaps. Craving a bowl of potato chips? Wait until you’ve got something to celebrate, and see it as a reward – not something to feel bad or guilty about.
- You’re relying only on will power – Sure, there are some people who have amazing will power. They can look at a plate of cheese fries and just simply say “no thanks.” But the truth is, most of us aren’t like that. So instead of relying only on your pure will power, start utilizing other mechanisms, too. The most powerful one? Distraction. Take your mind off those cravings, and read a book, walk the dog or watch a funny video online. Chances are you won’t even remember those foods a few minutes from now.
- You consume food media – If you’re on Pinterest or Instagram, then you probably see your fair share of delicious food items on a daily basis. Unfortunately, most of these foods probably aren’t weight loss-friendly, and they only highlight the foods you’re no longer eating. In the end, that means more cravings and a higher chance you’ll give into them. To safeguard yourself, avoid food media, and steer clear of food magazines, food blogs and other similar publications.
- You’re denying yourself all the time – If you’re having strong cravings all the time, it’s probably best to give in once in a while, rather than saying no each and every time it happens. If you continue denying your cravings, they’ll only keep building, getting stronger and more difficult to ignore. Eventually, you’ll burst, and you’ll end up binging on much more than you would have in the first place! Nip this in the bud, and eat a small amount of what you’re craving early on, and don’t allow cravings to grow into insurmountable challenges.
- You’re stressed out. Stress can play a major role in cravings. It can make you hungry, it can force you to seek out food for solace, and it can lead to binge-eating if you’re not careful. Take steps to lower stress levels if you feel yourself getting anxious. Visualization, deep breathing and yoga are all great options to try.
Failing to plan out your meals and snacks can also lead to worsened cravings. To make doubly sure you’re not craving bad-for-you sweets and foods, carefully plot out each and every thing you’ll eat for the week – right down to what you’re drinking. This will ensure you’re never hungry or left wanting.
Have you noticed any other actions that make cravings worse or harder to ignore? Share them with me in the comments!