Ask The Trainer

How do I control cravings?

February 14, 2015

Q: One of the most difficult parts of getting in shape is controlling my cravings for unhealthy foods. It seems as if my stomach has a mind of its own when it comes to eating ice cream, cookies and other sweets that I should be staying away from. Even though I try my best, I just can’t seem to say no and end up eating foods that derail my progress. Is there anything I can do to stop my body from craving these foods that cause me to gain weight?

A: Contrary to what most people think, you can control your cravings, but you must do certain things to make your body feel satisfied. Cravings and binge eating are caused by unstable blood sugar levels that are the result of poor lifestyle choices, such as infrequent eating, sugary meals, dehydration and eating processed foods. To get better control of your body's chemicals, you must make some lifestyle changes. Here are five proven techniques that will get you moving in the right direction.

Eat plenty of vegetables

Everyone knows vegetables are healthy, but what most people don’t realize is that eating several servings of vegetables a day with meals can actually help control cravings. You see, vegetables are high in fiber and low in calories, which means they will fill you up quickly leaving little room for bad foods, helping you feel satisfied and curbing your hunger.

Drink lots of water

Did you know that many people overeat because they confuse hunger with thirst? That’s right, most Americans would rather fill their stomachs with extra calories instead of getting their fill of good old-fashioned H2O. Drinking water throughout the day instead of waiting until you're thirsty will help you feel full and less likely to pick at snack foods in between meals. Be sure to drink eight to 10 glasses of water a day and remember, water needs will be greater on hot days or when you exercise more than normal.

Eat frequent small meals

The body responds much better if we graze instead of gorge. Meals should be spaced approximately two to three-and-a-half hours apart for best results. Just as our bodies have digested the food, we feed them again. This technique will not only boost your metabolism, but also reduces cravings because it sends the signal that your body is constantly supplied with the proper nutrition and energy needed to fuel you through the day, and there will be no need to binge eat.

Cut back on cocktails

When was the last time you went out drinking and didn’t get the munchies? Probably never, because drinking alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive but will also cloud your judgment when making food choices. Drinking several times a week will surely cause an increase in appetite and will cause you to eat foods you would otherwise replace with more healthy choices.

Eat better carbohydrates

Foods such as white bread, bagels, potato chips and doughnuts are grains that have been stripped of their valuable fiber and injected with simple sugars, causing them to spike insulin levels, leaving you hungry and more likely to crave more fattening foods. To reduce cravings, replace these sugary fat bombs with better choices, such as 100 percent wheat bread, sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole-grain pastas. These quality carbohydrates will provide a stable energy source and will help you lose weight as well as reduce hunger.

Don’t let your body's hormones control what you eat. Instead, learn certain techniques that allow you to make better choices. Try the above suggestions and you’ll be surprised at how easily you will regain control of your cravings.

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