- 4 Ways to Get Your Mind Off Food Cravings
- 10 Ways To Stop Food Cravings
- 10 tips to stop food cravings
- What you can do to stop cravings in 5 minutes or less
- 2. Play a game on your phone
- 3. Drink some coffee
- 4. Brush your teeth
- What you can do to stop cravings all day long
- 6. Do a light workout
- 7. Avoid getting too hungry
- What you can do to stop cravings long term
- 9. Mindful eating
- 10. Think long term
- “Crazy Cravings” — how our users got rid of them
- Three Reasons Not to (Completely) Ignore Your Cravings
- Fight Food Cravings Without Going Crazy
- Rule Your World
- Go to Bed
- Use a Scent Memory
- Tell Yourself “Later”
- Ride It Out
- Eat Enough
- Have Protein at Every Meal
- Skip Sugary Coffee
- Make Clever Swaps
- 7 Tips to Prevent Food Cravings
- 2) Short bouts of Exercise
- 3) Improve your Emotional Well Being and Reduce Stress
- 4) Increase your Protein Intake
- 5) Get a Good Night’s Sleep
- 6) Swap to Healthy Snacks and Avoid Hunger
- 7) Practice Mindful Eating
- 6 Things To Do When You Can’t Stop Thinking About Food (And How To Stop Food Fixation For Good!)
4 Ways to Get Your Mind Off Food Cravings
Food cravings can strike at any time and can be especially potent when you’re on a diet and trying to lose weight. Whether it’s a pizza commercial on the television or it’s a coworker sitting across from you in the break room eating a giant cookie, it’s easy to become focused on how much you want to indulge in your favorite treat. But despite many potential food temptations, there are some tricks you can use to help you forget how much you want that unhealthy indulgence.
1. Drink Something
Lowering calorie intake is the first step many dieters take to lose weight and sometimes it’s easy to unintentionally lower fluid intake as well. Since a good portion of your daily hydration comes from the food you eat, consuming less food can make you doubly hungry since thirst can feel just as intense as hunger. Extreme thirst can mask itself as a craving or hunger.
It is often difficult to tell the difference between true hunger and thirst, but intense cravings can often be dealt with by drinking a glass of juice or an electrolyte filled sports drink. The liquid will not only fill your stomach and lessen your food craving, but it will also quench your thirst, which will reduce the overall potency of your craving.
2. Find Something Sweet (or Salty)
If you’re sitting in your living room enjoying your favorite television show, and a craving for a salty, greasy bag of potato chips suddenly invades your mind, defeat that craving by choosing another food that will offer you a less caloric, yet salty experience. Instead of tearing through half a bag of regular potato chips, keep a baked variety on hand. Pretzels and nuts are also fine substitutes for salty cravings.
If your craving is for something sweet, it’s easy to find sweet, low-calorie options to fight that urge to eat a piece of cake or a box of cookies. For example, instead of indulging in a piece of apple pie, try eating a sliced apple. Fresh fruit is a terrific and healthy substitution whenever a craving for something sweet hits.
3. Treat Yourself Occasionally
While keeping your diet healthy and filled with nutritious foods is important, it is okay to indulge in your favorite foods in moderation, even while trying to lose weight. Denying yourself completely the opportunity to eat your favorite food will make it extremely difficult to avoid breaking your diet.
It is okay to eat a slice of pizza every once in a while and it’s fine to have a few of your favorite cookies on occasion. You can keep your cravings in check by treating yourself in moderation.
4. Take a Walk
Sometimes it can be as easy as changing your locale to make you forget completely about those cookies hidden on the top shelf of the cupboard or that leftover cake in the refrigerator. While going to the gym is certainly an option to take your mind off a craving, something as simple as a walk around the block can also clear your mind and refresh your muscles.
In “The Beck Diet Solution: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Person,” Dr. Judith S. Beck offer a psychological plan — not a food plan — to get you to lose weight, keep the weight off and eat right. Here’s an excerpt:
How Thin People Think
Have you ever wondered why you can’t lose weight or keep off the weight you’ve lost? You certainly know many people who don’t struggle with eating the way you do. Are you different? You probably are, but not necessarily for the reasons you think. Consider the following questions:
• Do you sometimes eat even when you’re not really hungry? In other words, can you easily tell the difference between being hungry and just wanting to eat?
• Are you sometimes concerned that you might not have an opportunity to eat? Do you ever have such thoughts as, What if I get hungry later?
• Do you sometimes eat past the point of mild fullness?
• Do you fool yourself about your eating? In other words, do you sometimes tell yourself that it “won’t matter” if you eat a small piece of something you’re not supposed to eat?
• Do you comfort yourself with food?
• If the scale goes up, do you sometimes abandon your diet altogether?
• Do you sometimes eat because it doesn’t feel fair that you can’t eat just like everyone else?
• Do you stop dieting as soon as you’ve lost weight?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you possess characteristics that can make dieting difficult.
You Confuse Hunger with the Desire to Eat
Naturally thin people are more easily able to differentiate between when they’re truly hungry because their stomachs are empty and when their stomachs aren’t empty but they have a desire to eat.
Thin people say to themselves, I know I’d like to eat … But I just ate a little while ago … I’m not going to have it. You, on the other hand, may label any desire to eat as hunger. You probably get the idea that you ought to eat whenever your stomach feels empty and you feel an urge to eat.
The Beck Diet Solution
To think like a thin person, you must learn to tell the difference between hunger and the desire to eat so that you can make better decisions about when it’s appropriate to eat and when it’s not. You’ll do so by paying attention to how your stomach feels before and after meals. You’ll also do such experiments as purposefully making yourself hungry so that you learn to recognize what true hunger feels like.
You Have a Low Tolerance for Hunger and Cravings
Most thin people feel hungry and occasionally notice cravings, but they don’t dwell on these feelings. Generally, they don’t think that much about food at all. They figure they’ll always be able to find something when they’re hungry or be able to withstand the hunger if it’s not convenient to eat. Usually, they have no problem holding off until their next snack or meal.
When you’re hungry or have a craving, though, you might dwell on these feelings. You probably worry about when you’re going to have an opportunity to eat again. Maybe you even become preoccupied with thoughts of food. You’re likely to overestimate how strong your hunger and cravings will
get and how long they’ll last. It’s likely you’ll try to get rid of them right away by eating. In fact, some people who struggle to lose weight experience hunger and cravings as emergencies: I must eat now!
The Beck Diet Solution
In this program, you’ll discover for yourself that hunger and cravings are not emergencies, and you’ll learn how to tolerate them. As you’re reading this, perhaps you’re thinking, I know I don’t have to eat when I’m hungry or having a craving … I want to eat.
You’ve probably read about hunger strikes, so you know people can go for days without eating. If you’ve ever fasted for a religious observance or a medical procedure, you know firsthand that hunger waxes and wanes.
Yet at the moment you feel hungry or experience a craving, you might not be thinking rationally. You might feel that you have to do something about it immediately to satisfy your urge to eat. Perhaps this inaccurate thinking stems, in part, from our hunter-and-gatherer ancestors, who survived only if they developed the ability to focus their attention intently on eating when food was around so that they could gain weight to survive leaner times when food was scarce. Today, food is plentiful all the time, but our modern brains have not yet caught up to this modern reality.
I’m going to teach you how to effectively respond to the voice in your head that tries to convince you, I have to eat right now! You’ll learn many techniques to refocus your attention so that hunger and craving lose their persuasive power. You’ll learn to tell yourself, I’m just feeling hungry, or I’m just having a craving … I don’t have to pay attention to it … I can shift my focus to something else … I don’t have to eat impulsively to get rid of this feeling … In a few minutes, I’m going to be really glad that I didn’t eat.
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You Like the Feeling of Being Full
Thin people usually like to eat to the point where they’re reasonably full.
It doesn’t feel right if they’ve eaten so much they feel a little uncomfortable taking a brisk walk after a meal. Even if there is delicious food left, they don’t want to keep eating. They feel no compulsion to empty their plates.
You, however, might feel uncomfortable if you stop eating at that same point. There are three possible reasons you feel this way:
• One, you may be concerned that you’ll get hungry again before the next meal.
• Two, you may feel deprived if you don’t eat as much as you want.
• Three, you may have grown accustomed to eating much greater quantities than is healthy. Indeed, you may label the degree of fullness you feel after an overly largemeal as “normal” when you’ve actually eaten to the point of overfullness.
I noticed this phenomenon recently when I had dinner at the house of a colleague. There were 10 of us in all. Although I’m usually oblivious to what people eat, on this particular night I decided to pay attention. This is what I observed: Two of us (both women) ate sparingly. Three of the men (all of normal weight) ate more than we did, but not a great deal more. The other five (all of whom are overweight) ate much more than the rest of us.
We light eaters skipped the hors d’oeuvres and several of the side dishes altogether and ate some of the entrée, vegetables, and rice. The moderate eaters had some hors d’oeuvres and finished most of what was on their plates. The big eaters ate lots of hors d’oeuvres and side dishes and finished just about everything on their plates. They couldn’t possibly have still been hungry, yet all of them had seconds. They also ate much larger portions of dessert.
Why did they eat well beyond the point of fullness? Probably because they all had such thoughts as:
• This tastes so good. I don’t want to stop.
• It’s a special occasion, so it’s okay to splurge.
• I want to show my hostess that I appreciate her efforts.
• I can’t resist such wonderful food.
They probably also overate because they wanted to feel overly full at the end of the meal.
The Beck Diet Solution
This program teaches you how to change your mindset so that you actually feel good about feeling reasonably full at the end of meals. It takes practice, but you’ll get to the point where instead of feeling deprived when you get up from the table, you’ll automatically say, I’m so glad I didn’t overeat.
You Fool Yourself About How Much You Eat
Thin people generally have a pretty good gauge of how much they eat. They don’t overeat very often, and when they do, they naturally eat less at their next meal or two to compensate for it.
People who struggle with dieting, however, often delude themselves about how much they eat. In fact, at times you might deliberately try not to notice what you’re eating because you know you would feel bad if you really paid attention. For example, you might eat a pint of ice cream standing at the freezer or finish an entire bag of chips while watching TV. It’s as if part of you believes, If I’m not fully conscious of what I’m doing, it’s okay to keep eating.
You might tell yourself that what you’re eating doesn’t really matter—that is, the calories don’t count if you’re only eating the crumbs in the bottom of a bag of cookies, the icing that’s left on the cake cutter, or a broken piece of pretzel. Maybe you justify eating too much because you’re eating out, celebrating, or vacationing. Or you might make the excuse that you should eat something because it’s free or someone is urging you to ea
You can also fool yourself in other ways. You might use eating something that you shouldn’t have as an excuse to eat even more. Perhaps you’ve said to yourself, Since I strayed from this diet, I may as well blow the whole day. So you eat and eat, promising yourself you’ll start again tomorrow.
The Beck Diet Solution
As you read this, you can probably see how this kind of thinking doesn’t make good sense. Yet, in the moment, your sabotaging thoughts override your rational mind. Recognizing and responding in a helpful way to these sabotaging thoughts is a key component of this program. You’ll be practicing this skill daily.
You Comfort Yourself with Food
When thin people are emotionally upset, they don’t turn to food for distraction or solace. It just doesn’t cross their minds. If anything, they tend to lose their desire to eat.
On the other hand, when you’re distressed or bored, you might immediately want to grab food. Eating can distract you from your negative feelings and soothe you. In fact, there are certain foods—chocolate, for example—that contain substances that release “feel good” chemicals in your brain.
The problem, of course, is that you feel better only momentarily. What happens as soon as you’re finished eating? You still have to deal with the problem that made you upset. And, on top of that, you feel bad that you strayed from your diet. You become self-critical, undermine your confidence, and feel even worse than you did at the start.
The Beck Diet Solution
Instead of trying to comfort yourself with food, the Beck Diet Solution
teaches you to calm down in other ways: by using distraction and relaxation techniques, by countering your sabotaging thoughts, and by solving the problems that were associated with your negative emotions in the first place.
You Feel Helpless and Hopeless When You Gain Weight
When thin people gain weight, they don’t usually see it as a catastrophe. They figure that they’ll simply watch what they eat for the next few days or increase their exercise. They have confidence that the scale will go back down.
You’re probably different, though. What goes through your mind when you see on the scale a higher number than you’d expected? You probably have such thoughts as, I can’t believe it! This is terrible! I’ll never lose weight!
Thin people have faith in their ability to make good decisions about what, when, and how much they’re going to eat—and to follow through with these decisions. Even when they eat more than usual, such as at a party, they’re confident that they’ll return to a more controlled way of eating afterwards.
You, however, may have constant sabotaging and demoralizing thoughts that undermine your confidence. When you overeat, you might believe that you’ll never be able to control your eating.
The Beck Diet Solution
This program teaches you many techniques to prevent overeating. But, equally important, it also teaches you how to learn from your eating mistakes and to recommit yourself to your diet right away. When you do so, your confidence grows. You’ll know that you can immediately recover from slips and control your eating and weight.
We’ve all done it, snacked mindlessly in front of the TV, or, in the heat of a busy day, shoveled down lunch, hardly tasting it. We also know when we’re eating just for comfort, or because of boredom or stress.
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There’s something you can do to prevent these habits, along with the weight gain that often follows. You can practice “mindful eating.” It’s not a diet, but rather a practice that can help you slow down, be more aware of what you’re eating and pay attention to whether or not you are actually hungry.
“Mindful eating grew out of the concept of mindfulness, which is being aware using all of the senses of the present moment,” says registered dietitian Maxine Smith.
She says similar non-diet approaches have been popular for about 10-15 years, with a revival of mindful eating as an alternative to restrictive diets.
To define mindful eating, Ms. Smith points to the principles laid down by the international nonprofit Center for Mindful Eating:
- Pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings. Allow yourself to become aware of the positive and nurturing opportunities available through selecting and preparing food by respecting your own inner wisdom.
- Use all your senses in choosing to eat food that is both satisfying to you and nourishing to your body.
- Don’t judge yourself or your food. Acknowledge responses to food (likes, dislikes or neutral) without judgment.
- Be aware of physical hunger. Decipher between being hungry and satisfied to guide your decisions to begin and end eating.
Here’s how Ms. Smith says we can put those principles into action to get off the dieting roller coaster and develop a healthy relationship with food:
Start with a mindful bite
Rather than rushing into another meal, Smith advises taking a moment to relax before taking the first bite.
“Step away from your previous activity like work, take some deep breaths, and clear your mind,” she says. “Take a small bite, being aware of all of the sensations of your food — how it looks on the plate, the smell, the mouthfeel, and how your body responds to the food.”
Don’t multitask with your eating
Eating at your desk, in the car or while you’re standing and making the kids dinner are all prime environments for mindless eating.
“Turn off the TV, get rid of distractions,” Ms. Smith says. “When you’re getting started, set a timer for 20 minutes with a small portion of food and make sure it lasts that long.”
Shed ‘bad’ and ‘good’ mentality
“This approach gives you a sense of freedom, whereas you may have felt restricted, with a constant feeling that you’re being ‘good’ or ‘bad,’” says Ms. Smith.
“It’s building healthier relationships with food and is a more sustaining way to regulate your body weight.”
Get rid of the desk candy dish
A 2006 study by Cornell University food psychologist Brian Wansink observed the candy consumption of 40 adult secretaries over four weeks to measure how the visibility and proximity of the candy influenced their intake.
They ate an average of 2.2 more candies a day when they were visible — in clear bowls instead of opaque — and 1.8 more when they were on their desks instead of two meters away.
“Adjust your environment to make it more conducive to mindful eating,” Ms. Smith says.
Brain health treatment guide
10 Ways To Stop Food Cravings
We probably all know the desire to give in to our sweet tooth — we need sweets and we need them NOW! We might also have cravings for pizza or some other type of greasy, salty food.
Nasty cravings seem to appear when we least expect them and usually when we are unequipped to resist them.
Are cravings caused by nutrient deficiencies?
Although some conditions such as sodium deficiency and pica can cause cravings, there is no conclusive evidence that cravings are caused by nutrient deficiencies. Certain known facts about cravings like the influence of sleep and nutrition habits (and perhaps even gender differences) make it more likely that cravings are caused by external factors and not a lack of specific nutrients.(1, 2, 3, 4)
Here is an emergency plan so you can be prepared next time the cravings kick in…
10 tips to stop food cravings
These tips to help you reduce cravings are ordered based on how fast you can act on them. So while you may be tempted to reach for the fastest ones, we encourage you to give all of them a try over the next few weeks for best results.
What you can do to stop cravings in 5 minutes or less
The easiest thing you can do to curb your cravings is to have a large glass of water and wait for a couple of minutes. Even if the craving doesn’t completely go away, the fullness of your stomach will make it less intense.
2. Play a game on your phone
Who knew that playing a game on your phone can help reduce cravings? Whether you had a glass of water or not, it’s important to take your mind off the cravings for a couple of minutes. A study found that playing Tetris on your smartphone for just 3 minutes can weaken different types of cravings, including food cravings.(5) It’s too easy not to try, right?
3. Drink some coffee
Coffee might have a stronger influence on your appetite and food intake than water. Although more research needs to be done, it seems that coffee can suppress acute energy intake.(6) What does that mean? Right after drinking a cup of coffee people will eat less than they would have without it. So even if you end up giving in to a craving, you have a higher chance of keeping the size of your treat moderate and not going overboard. Another study found that decaffeinated coffee might help suppress the appetite even more!(7)
4. Brush your teeth
This trick will work in two ways. First of all, it might trick your brain into thinking that the meal is over. But even if you’re brain is not easily tricked, the cool mint toothpaste flavor left in your mouth will make it hard to eat anything afterwards. At least it won’t taste nearly as good…
Craving something sweet?
Cravings can range from sweet to savory and fatty. But sugar cravings are usually the ones that are the hardest to deal with — that’s why we have extra tips (and food alternatives) to curb your sugar cravings!
What you can do to stop cravings all day long
Protein is your ally against crazy cravings, here’s why:
- Increasing protein intake can reduce cravings (8)
- Eating more protein can help fight the desire to eat at night (9)
- Protein keeps you full longer (10)
6. Do a light workout
Before you start rocking 100 burpees, think about this: an intense workout might make you feel even hungrier, but a low intensity activity, such as a brisk walk or short bodyweight home workout can have the opposite effect. One study found that it might actually make you eat only half the amount of chocolate that you would have eaten otherwise.(11) If you’re feeling playful, next time your cravings kick in try walking backwards.
7. Avoid getting too hungry
The hungrier you get, the higher the chance that you can’t fight off that intense craving. It’s as simple as that. So don’t look for solutions when it’s almost too late. Plan your meals ahead and make sure to have a healthy snack by your side if you are prone to craving attacks.
What you can do to stop cravings long term
Insufficient sleep can affect your appetite and increase cravings. (12) Unfortunately, the importance of sleep is often neglected when it comes to fitness and weight loss.
The problem is that we easily get used to sleeping less and fail to notice the real effect it has on us. We get cranky, are constantly hungry and unhappy, and start to blame it on work, stress, or lack of time. But more often than not, the real reason is the lack of sleep. If you have trouble sleeping, these 11 tips can help you sleep better!
9. Mindful eating
Mindful eating is related to the general practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness in general is about practicing awareness and being present in the moment without judgement. This can also be done in relation to food and eating. (13)
An experiment from the Indiana State University tested the effect of mini-meditations prior to eating or when urge to binge occurs. It involved focusing one’s awareness on behavior, beliefs, and emotions associated with food intake. The results suggested a positive effect, as the binges decreased in frequency and severity for the meditation group. (14)
Even though binge eating and cravings are not the same thing, they may show up together. And other more recent studies have been exploring the potential meditation has to change these behaviors. (15)
10. Think long term
It would be unrealistic to expect that a craving can be stopped by thinking about it rationally, but taking a step back and visualizing the long-term consequences helps some people manage their cravings better.
Some of the consequences may include:
- reduced energy levels
- mood swings and more negativity
- health risks of obesity and diabetes
Did you know?
A study has shown that “comfort food” such as junk food doesn’t necessarily provide a better “comfort feeling” than eating other types of food. This “myth of comfort food” is now being researched in other experiments. Try satisfying your craving with a healthier version of the same food. (16)
“Crazy Cravings” — how our users got rid of them
Take a look at the tips and tricks already used by our Instagram users:
Three Reasons Not to (Completely) Ignore Your Cravings
Every now and then you have to give into your food cravings. When you’re on a diet or a healthy eating plan, cravings tend to be demonized when really they’re not such a bad thing to enjoy from time to time. The key to not allowing cravings to become a problem is to stay in control–don’t go into a bakery on an empty stomach and don’t order a huge basket of french fries when you can order a small side. In the long run, you’ll be happier and healthier by not ignoring your food cravings. Here are some reasons why.
1. Indulging In Cravings Keeps You Sane and Happy
Our favorite foods, no matter how bad for us, make us feel good when we eat them. Eating foods like chocolate, ice cream, wine and cheese, or a big juicy cheeseburger elicits feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. There is no reason to completely eliminate these foods from your diet or to deny yourself these foods every once in awhile. It’s hard to refrain from eating these things because they taste so good. For someone who is giving up these foods to try and be healthier, the challenge of doing so can feel overwhelming at times. If you don’t give in when you really want something, your thoughts will be consumed by the the food. People feel grumpy and unhappy when they deny themselves something they want for too long. You’ll be happier if you just allow yourself to eat the cheeseburger once every couple of weeks.
2. Indulging In Cravings Keeps You Motivated
Who wants to live a life without their favorite food? Living in a constant state of denial is no way to carry on. Indulging in your favorite foods from time to time reaffirms your efforts. You work out and eat healthy most of the time so that you can really enjoy that special treat guilt free on the occasions that allow it. Allowing yourself to give into a craving will keep you motivated and will prevent you from giving up altogether instead.
3. Indulging In Cravings May Be Your Body’s Way of Communicating
Sometimes a craving may be your body’s way of telling you that you need more of a particular food or nutrient. A craving for a steak, for example, may mean that you’re low on iron or protein. Craving a strawberry-kiwi smoothie may mean you need some more vitamin C. Cravings aren’t just limited to foods you may classify as junk, as you’ve probably had cravings for nutrient-rich foods before. Know your body and think about what nutrients you may need. The craving may be about more than wanting a tasty treat–it may be trying to help you fill a void in your diet.
Cravings should not be completely ignored. A good rule is to wait 15 minutes after you initially have a craving to see if it still lingers. If it does, allow yourself a moderate portion of the food you desire or plan to consume the food later in the week.
Craving a sinful snack, like a handful of potato chips or one of those
yummy cookies leftover from your Super Bowl party? Instead of
wrestling with your willpower and weighing the calories against your
weight-loss goal, just tell yourself you can have it! Later.
According to new research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the best way to stop yourself from indulging in a junk-food craving is not to attempt total resistance, but instead to postpone your indulgence. This way, you’re neither giving in nor attempting total denial. And chances are, you won’t end up eating those chips later after all.
So how does this work? When people are faced with a temptation (e.g., chocolate cake) they experience a tug-of-war between eating it (pleasure) and not eating it (restraint and deprivation), study researcher Nicole Mead, a psychologist at the Catolica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics in Portugal, told HealthySELF. Sound familiar? “This is because eating is the natural human tendency, whereas restraint is unnatural for humans and therefore effortful,” Mead says.
In fact, restraint often leads to overconsumption in the future, because it increases your desire and reduces your willpower, according to Mead. “In contrast, postponement gives in to the natural tendency of wanting and having the pleasure, just not at the moment,” she says. “It tricks the mind and body into thinking it will have the pleasure, which enables people to keep the temptation at arm’s length at the time of peak desire for the temptation, allowing the mind and body to cool off!”
But won’t you just end up eating the treat, well, later? Unlikely, says Mead. “When people don’t indulge in the temptation, the temptation seems less and less desirable in the future, enabling people to continue postponing the pleasure.”
To come to this conclusion, researchers gave student volunteers bowls of M&Ms. Some were told to eat as many as they wanted, others were told not to eat any and a third group was told they could eat some later. The researchers then told the students the experiment was over, and offered the M&Ms once again. Guess who ate the most? The group who was initially deprived. And the least? The group who had been told to wait and have some … later.
Keep in mind, though, if you set a specific time or day to indulge in your temptation, your mind and body become programmed to actually eat it at that time. “When 3 p.m. comes around, say, an alarm bell will go off reminding you to eat,” says Mead. But if you postpone to a vague time (later!), that goal of eating is not reactivated.
“By moving even the thought of consumption to the future, the goal of eating and indulging are no longer relevant for the mind and body, so they simply do not care and the craving naturally dissipates,” Mead says.
In fact, Mead theorizes that employing this strategy can actually build your willpower and help curb your cravings in the first place. “When the desire for the pleasure is not reinforced by consumption of the pleasure, the body learns that the temptation is not all that pleasurable and exciting,” she says. So go ahead, have some M&Ms! Just not right now.
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Fight Food Cravings Without Going Crazy
You know the feeling: a sudden, powerful desire to throw a coat over your pajamas and drive to the nearest market because you absolutely need that one chocolate cookie. Food cravings are practically universal-research shows virtually all women ages 18 to 35 have had a craving in the past year. But, as anyone who has tried to just eat one cookie knows, these urges can wreak havoc on your efforts to lose-or even maintain-weight. (Your sudden need for snacking could be your body trying to tell you something. Find out What Your Food Cravings Mean.)
Good news: An ongoing study at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University found that while 94 percent of dieting participants report cravings, they are still able to shed pounds by managing the impulse. It’s good to know what triggers a food obsession (stress, a memory, the need for comfort, boredom), but how well you deal with the discomfort may matter more, says Laura Slayton, R.D., a nutrition practicing in New York City, and author of The Little Book of Thin.
The biggest mistake you can make? Trying to go it alone: Studies shows that having any kind of game plan makes you better able to resist. Instead of just digging in your heels against unhealthy urges in the name of weight loss, try one of these tricks to fight cravings without going crazy.
Rule Your World
Food prompts are everywhere, and these cues spark cravings, whether you realize it consciously or not, says Evan Forman, Ph.D., professor at Drexel University and an expert on food cravings at the Lab for Innovations in Health-Related Behavioral Change. It’s that uninterrupted hum that exists under the radar and keeps your brain perpetually reminded of the pleasure of food. We live in an eating-centric world, as Forman points out, so control your corner of it: Avoid having food you crave in the house, don’t window-shop for food and recipes online, find a route for your commute that doesn’t bring you past delicious places, stop “just looking” at what’s stocked in the vending machine today…. Simple enough, but effective.
Go to Bed
As anyone who’s raided the fridge while watching late-night TV knows, you’re at prime risk for furious snacking at night, according to a study published in The Journal of Obesity. “It’s the work of your circadian system, which amps up cravings come sundown, telling you to keep eating in order to store energy until the next meal,” explains Steven Shea, Ph.D., from Oregon Health and Sciences University and senior author on the study. “Your food urges peak at 8 p.m. and stay high until midnight. Basically, the later you stay up, the more food you’re likely to eat.” Not getting enough sleep also triggers the release of hormones that are linked to hunger, which can spark more cravings the next day. (If you’re legitimately hungry, try eating these Foods That Help You Sleep.)
Use a Scent Memory
“Imagining a scent, like freshly cut grass or gasoline, takes over the place in your brain occupied by a craving,” says Forman. “Focus on the smell for a few minutes and it can dissipate the strength of your urge.”
Tell Yourself “Later”
It’s not a “no,” so it won’t shift your body and brain into defiant mode. But postponing your indulgence can diffuse the intensity of the moment, and research shows that you’re not likely to end up treating yourself after the situation has passed. One caveat: Don’t attach a time to “later,” or you may hold yourself to it.
Ride It Out
Acknowledge in the moment that you want a cupcake, or chips, or whatever your kryptonite may be, and just be Zen with it. Don’t try to push the feeling away, or ignore it, or punish yourself for it-just coexist with the feeling. “It’s a technique called urge surfing,” explains Forman. “It’s like being in the ocean: If you fight the waves, you’ll struggle, panic, and eventually go under. But if you just surf them, you stay calm and in control. It takes practice, but pretty soon you’ll learn that not fighting the craving, while also not giving in, is a perfectly okay state.”
Not surprisingly, women who try to ignore their hunger have stronger cravings. (Learn The New Rules of Hunger here.) A study out of Oregon Research Institute found that the more people cut calories, the more activity there was in the parts of the brain associated with reward and urges in response to all foods-especially highly caloric treats, like milkshakes. “Timing your meals and distributing your calories throughout the day so you’re not deprived for long stretches is key,” says Slayton. “Have a good breakfast, then eat what I call ‘dunch,’ which is dinner for lunch. No skimpy salads. That way, you go into the afternoon and early evening-prime craving time-fortified.”
Have Protein at Every Meal
When exposed to food cues, people low on protein had stronger cravings, found a study at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. “Scans showed that the areas of the brain responsible for reward had increased activity when protein-deprived people were shown pictures of, and smelled, savory foods, even when they ate as many calories as the control group,” explains Sanne Griffioen-Roose, lead author on the study. “They reached for more meat, cheese, and savory snacks.” The researchers limited the subjects’ protein intake for two weeks, but if your routine includes juicing, fasting, or a low-fat, veg-based diet, you might be in a similarly low state. Focus on breakfast and lunch; women often wait until dinner, at the end of the day when they need it least, to fill up on protein.
Skip Sugary Coffee
The foods women go bonkers for the most are sweet ones, according to recent research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. That’s because when you eat sugar and carbs, your brain releases hormones like serotonin and endorphins, which make you calm and relaxed-for a little while. But then your insulin levels spike, causing you to crash. That makes you hanker for more sugar…and so starts the candy roller coaster. When you start the morning with sweetened coffee, you’re setting yourself up for a sugar-and-carb-frenzied day.
Make Clever Swaps
Routines are a huge factor in what you crave and when, says Slayton. “If you eat dessert every night, you’ll start to yearn for it midway through dinner. But habits are malleable.” Your body might not like being told it can’t have its treat, but it doesn’t mind a swap. Instead of cookies for dessert, have some Sweetriot cacao nibs, which are intense in flavor and have just a few calories. No, they won’t give you the exact same pleasure, but you’ll get enough gratification to hold you over until the craving fades. Other swaps Slayton recommends: If you’re dying for salt, try Brussel Bytes, which are the new kale chip, or Alexia baked sweet potato fries. “The trick is to not think of it as a lowly substitute,” says Slayton, “but instead be excited about all the delicious options you do have.” (Here are 8 Clean-Eating Recipes to Satisfy Any Craving.)
- By Isabel Burton
So, you have stuck to your diet and exercise plans for a good few days. You are feeling GOOD. You are relaxing in the evening when suddenly you are overtaken by the most terrible food cravings.
Before you know it, you have eaten half a tub of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream and a whole chocolate bar!
Now you feel terrible, all the effort you put into healthy eating feels like a waste and your motivation plummets.
If this sounds like you then you have come to the right place for some top tips on how to overcome those pesky food cravings.
Dear Diamond, we all know who is really a girl’s best friend. Yours truly, Chocolate Cup Cake.
Where do Food Cravings Come From?
Well, there is a lot of debate, from nutritional experts and medics alike, regarding food cravings.
Some research suggests that certain types of foods are actually as addictive as hardcore drugs. Thus, some food cravings may come from a genuine food addiction.
Whatever the cause, it is certainly true that food cravings are totally different from hunger. Our brains respond to certain foods by releasing feel-good chemicals in the brain.
This process stimulates our reward centres in the brain and thus a pattern of craving follows.
The four main culprits that will have you obsessing and drooling and breaking your diet are:-
- Refined Carbohydrates
- Refined Sugar
- Salty foods
If you are really struggling with motivation, weight loss or any other issues try the AMAZING Talking Moose App. Moose simply pops up (at time intervals set by you) and gives you suggestions (based on hypnosis and NLP techniques) that work for you without you even knowing.
7 Tips to Prevent Food Cravings
1) Drink Fresh Water
There are a lot of articles around today stating that hunger and thirst are often confused in the brain. How scientifically true this is, is debatable.
However, according to one piece of medical research, often food and drink are interchangeable. That is there is fluid in a lot of food and energy in a lot of drinks.
Regardless, the number one thing that you can do, when a food craving hits, is to grab yourself a glass of fresh, cool water.
Benefits of Drinking Water to Avoid Food Cravings
- Going to the fridge and pouring yourself a glass of water can be a distraction from that sugared snack you are thinking of
- A glass of water, flavoured with a slice of fresh lemon may well squash those cravings for food
- Studies show that staying well hydrated throughout the day reduces food cravings and hunger. Aim for around 6 glasses of water per day
- Regularly drinking a glass of water will help ease the temptation to go for that sugared soda or calorie-loaded drink.
- Research studies show that drinking 500 MLS of water increases the metabolic rate by 30% in 10 minutes. The reason for this, in part, is that the body needs to warm the water to the body temperature – so drink it ice cold guys.
I agree that water is great for all sorts of things. Need to lose weight? Drink water. Want to improve your complexion? Drink water. Tired of your man? Drown him.
2) Short bouts of Exercise
Often food cravings are related to certain activities, such as watching TV or relaxing on an evening.
So, similar to dealing with other intense cravings, getting up and doing a little exercise can really help distract from and decrease the craving.
You can go for a brisk walk around the block, or jump up and do one of those boring tasks that are always on the back burner. For example, vigorously clean the windows, or tidy and clean your kitchen cupboards.
Afterwards, have a big glass of ice-cold water and Voila! the craving has passed and you have achieved something into the bargain.
It does not have to be prolonged, extreme exercise. Indeed research shows that a short 10-minute bout of fast walking reduces food cravings. Furthermore, another research study shows that 12 weeks of aerobic exercise decreases cravings for high-fat foods, fast food fats and carbohydrates.
So, grab your jogging bottoms and get active. Adding even one hour of walking per week to your schedule will significantly improve your health.
Jess, did it just say ‘exercise’? Yes Moose, Why? Oh! I was interested for a minute, I thought it said ‘extra fries’.
3) Improve your Emotional Well Being and Reduce Stress
There is no doubt that stress is a major player in many areas of health. However, one medical study shows that stress increases both food cravings and Body Mass Index (BMI)
So, working on reducing stress levels can help you with food cravings and thus, weight loss. In addition, other areas of your general health may improve too.
Some Tips to Decrease Stress
- Meditation – learn how to meditate at home or join a group or take a course. Set aside time to practice. Clinically proven to lower stress
- Exercise – see above for our exercise tips
- Yoga or Tai Chi – both clinically proven stress relievers
- Healthy Diet – read on for more diet tips
- Sleep at least 8 hours per night. Set up a regular bedtime and wake-up time and stick to it
- Alcohol and cigarettes – cut down or cut out alcohol and nicotine
- Reduce your caffeine intake. Swap that cappuccino for a lovely cup of green tea
- Treat yourself to a lovely relaxing massage
- Maintain a healthy work/life balance and take time out for yourself
What? A stress ball is not to throw at the people that stress you out? Really?
4) Increase your Protein Intake
Well, quite basically, medical studies show that increasing your protein intake reduces food cravings and increases feelings of fullness.
According to the above study, a diet that consists of 25% protein really does reduce hunger and food cravings.
A high-protein diet also led to a reduction in late-night snacking. Furthermore, obsessively thinking about food also reduces with a high protein diet.
HP intake led to greater fullness throughout the day along with reductions in late‐night desire to eat and preoccupation with thoughts of food compared to a normal protein diet.
Also, a lot of research suggests that a higher protein diet may increase your metabolic rate and lead to an increase in weight loss.
So grab that high-protein shake and stop those food cravings.
What are your future plans, Moose? Lunch No, I meant more long term. Oh! … Dinner
5) Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Getting a good nights sleep is essential for optimal bodily functions, but especially weight loss.
Officially, sleep deprivation begins when you have less than 7 hours of sleep per night. In addition, studies show that sleep deprivation increases food cravings.
The optimum amount of sleep for weight loss, according to the Sleep Foundation, appears to be around 7 to 9 hours per night.
According to studies, when you have less than 7 hours of sleep per night, the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin are affected.
Now, ghrelin tells the body that it is hungry and leptin plays a role in telling the brain when we have had enough food.
Sleep deprivation causes an increase in ghrelin and a decrease in leptin which may well lead to food cravings and an increase in hunger.
So, set a bedtime and waking routine and snuggle down for a good night’s sleep.
6) Swap to Healthy Snacks and Avoid Hunger
Allowing yourself to get extremely hungry can actually increase food cravings. If the body is deprived of essential nutrients it will send signals to the brain that you need these.
So, if you are running very low in calories (energy) it makes sense that this can be translated by the body as a need for high-energy foods such as sugar or carbs.
The key is to plan and eat regular, well-balanced healthy meals so that you don’t get too hungry. Also, swap those high sugar or high carb snacks for more healthy snacks with a bit of crunch.
Because food cravings are often linked with a specific texture or taste, eating healthy snacks such as celery sticks or carrots with hummus may well stop those urges.
I hate it when healthy me does the food shopping because now fat me needs a snack!
7) Practice Mindful Eating
Yes, this is all well and good but what exactly is mindful eating? Well, it is adopting a meditative way of thinking in relation to food.
Research suggests that using this approach has a positive impact on reducing food cravings.
So, like a lot of habitual behaviors, you return home from work and settle on the couch to watch some TV. This TV watching triggers an urge for you to eat chocolate because that is what you usually do.
This thought, in turn, will produce cravings for chocolate, possibly with mouth-watering and images of the chocolate and taste. Before you know it, you have eaten a whole bar and are feeling regretful.
Mindfulness, however, focuses on being more aware of your mental patterns and recognising that the thought (of chocolate) is merely a temporary mental process. You can recognise the thought and then simply let it pass. This is known as ‘decentering’
The second part of mindful eating is similar, in that you must become very aware of the sensations and flavors in the very act of eating, rather than mindlessly chomping away.
There is a lot more on mindful eating that is too in-depth to cover here but changing your mental attitude to food, food choices, shopping and eating can lead to a significant reduction in food cravings.
Mindfulness isn’t that difficult. We just need to get into the habit and remember to do it. Yes, you just have to live in the moment with no judgement.
- Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss
- Food Addiction: The Controversy and the Claims
- Why am I not Losing Weight? 6 Proven Reasons
- Weight Loss Tips: 5 of the Best
- What are SMART Goals? and how they can Aid Weight Loss
- How to Lose Weight Fast
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6 Things To Do When You Can’t Stop Thinking About Food (And How To Stop Food Fixation For Good!)
I bet you have things in your life that really matter to you. Things like pursuing your passions, learning new things, seeing the world, spending time with those you love. So do I. Everybody wants to live their best life now, right?
So here’s a question for you. Are you putting a majority your focus, time and energy toward actually building the life you say you want?
Ten years ago I would’ve loved to have said YES to that. But it would’ve been a lie.
Back then I spent 90% of my energy on something far less fulfilling.
Instead of focusing on my passions, I lived in an ongoing mental drama of food-focused thoughts.
And I don’t mean blissful fantasies like enjoying bonbons and champagne by the pool, either. It was pretty much the opposite of that.
I obsessed 24/7 about what I ate yesterday, what I was going to eat today, and how much weight it would make me gain. I plotted. I planned. And lost hours, days, and weeks to guilt-ridden, food-obsessed thinking.
Worst of all, my mental and emotional batteries were drained. I had no energy left for the things I truly wanted in life. All because I couldn’t stop fixating on my next meal.
Now I’m thrilled to say that food doesn’t cross my mind much–unless, of course, I’m hungry! Food is my ally in creating the life that I love, not something that I obsess about in every waking moment.
How did I stop the food-focused self-talk and take back my mental energy for better things?
Here’s a hint–controlling your thoughts is not the answer. There is a better way.
Ready to stop the fanatical food self-talk and give that mental energy to something better? Let’s make sure that having food on the brain doesn’t get in the way of living your best life ever again!
Step One: Know your brain (and how it works). I bet that at some point, you’ve heard advice about how to stop food obsessed thoughts. I’m willing to bet that most of it boiled down to “just stop thinking about food.”
Easy to say. Nearly impossible to do.
What if I told you right now to NOT think about bread? What if I insisted that you think about anything BUT bread for the rest of the day? What do you think would happen next?
Bread would consume all of your thoughts, whether you wanted to think about it or not.
That’s one of the quirks about your brain. It doesn’t understand the negative very well. When you say “don’t think about bread,” all it picks up is the “bread” part. And it just keeps thinking about it…and thinking about it.
That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that you can turn the tables on your brain. Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, shift to what you DO want!
For example, instead of telling yourself what you can’t eat, look at it another way. Ask yourself what you could have right now that would energize, support, and satisfy you the most.
It takes a little practice. But the more you shift your focus from NO to YES, the easier it becomes. So make it a habit to start accentuating the positive in your life, one thought at a time.
Step Two: STOP Stressing about what you’re eating.
It’s tough to stop thinking about food when you’re plotting, planning, and calculating the macronutrient values of everything you eat. I get it.
Funny thing, but this is just what diets make you do.
By their nature, diets encourage you to focus on food. Pretty soon, all you’re thinking about is whether something you want to eat is OK according to whatever diet guru you’re following.
No matter how healthy a diet seems, diets are about restriction. Whether it’s cutting carbs, going keto, or starting paleo, they’re still diets. They restrict something.
And restrictive diets lead to unrestricted food thoughts. That’s why the dropping the diet is so powerful!
So for your own better mental health, stop following someone else’s eating plan. This alone will bring your mental food-stress level down to almost zero.
Step Three: Keep your body happy (and nourished). We’ve talked about this before here on the blog (and on the YouTube channel), but it bears repeating.
Your body needs nourishment. When you support your body with adequate fuel, it’ll support you back. This leads to all kinds of beautiful things!
For one thing, your brain won’t be stuck into survival mode, flying into mental food overdrive and prompting you to eat.
Even better, over time your brain will learn to trust that you’ll properly feed your body. It’ll know that it doesn’t have to send out SOS hunger pangs to ensure its survival.
This will calm those fearful food thoughts down big-time!
Step Four: Mix it up at the table! Once you drop the food rules, replace them with food freedom. By that, I mean giving yourself the option to choose from a variety of foods to support and energize your body.
That means adding back in the carbs, the fruit, or whatever you cut for the latest fad diet!
You see, your body has a wisdom of its own. If it’s missing something it needs, it’ll do what it takes to get it. That includes triggering frenzied thoughts about the foods that hold the nutrients that it needs.
Those scarcity pangs can make you feel like a food-crazed monster with uncontrolled cravings, and they can be a little scary at times. But they might just mean that you simply need more nutrition coverage in your diet!
But if you eat a wide array of foods in the first place, you’ll start preempting those wild cravings. That will significantly cut down on anxiety-ridden food thoughts and reduce your food stress.
Step Five: Choose foods that light you up and warm your belly. There’s eating to survive. Then there’s eating to feel supported, energized, and satisfied. I’m talking about that warm-bellied feeling that you get when it’s a “Goldilocks” kind of meal.
That is, just right.
We’re talking about leaving the table feeling full in the best way possible!
Don’t believe it when Cosmopolitan magazine calls five almonds and an apple a “meal.” Sure, it’s a nice little snack. But I defy anyone to prove to me that this is a satisfying meal.
If you try to trick yourself into believing that a cube of cheese is a healthy lunch, just know that your body won’t buy it for long. Eventually, it’ll strike back and turn up the volume on cravings.
Which, of course, leaves your brain focused on one thing–food.
So be sure that when you leave the table, make sure it’s a full meal that makes you feel grateful and satisfied.
Step Six: Consider the non-food causes for food-focused thoughts. Taking care of your body’s needs eliminates a lot of mental food stress. But there is one more factor that I need to share, the thing that solidifies those food thoughts on a repeating loop in your head.
It’s the stress and anxiety that food-focused thoughts create. I mean root causes of the food-focused thoughts that have nothing to do with the food itself.
There are root causes for food-focused thoughts that might be hiding just under the surface. These underlying causes tend to trigger emotions, which in turn create habitual responses.
And here’s the kicker–those habitual responses might be so well ingrained that you don’t even notice them.
What am I talking about here? Let me share an example…
We all have worries in our lives. That’s part of being human. But one of the easier ways to distract ourselves from emotional or mental stress is by grabbing a snack. (We’ve all done it from time to time!)
But if that response happens on the regular, it can morph into a habitual pattern. And that pattern eventually does two things that keep you stuck…
First, it creates automated responses that drive you to think about food.
Second, it sabotages your chances of healing the real issue behind the food-focused thought. It triggers you to rely on food to solve a problem that it simply cannot solve.
That’s kind of a big deal, isn’t it?
Many of us aren’t aware of this side of the coin. Some of us choose to ignore it. But it’s a powerful thing–and it needs to be addressed if you truly wish to drop food-obsessed thoughts for good.
But here’s the cool part: if you’re willing to do this deeper work, it’ll give you the edge that will make this transformation last a lifetime!
Now, I bet that you’re wondering one thing–how do I make this happen in the real world? If you’ve had food on the brain for most of your life, this might sound like just a bunch of good ideas, but not something that’ll work for you.
Trust me, I get it.
I’ve been there, felt stuck, and believed that I’d be the star of a food-obsessed reality show for the rest of my life.
But I found a way to stop the madness, take back my power, and put my energy toward my best life instead of my next meal. It was a life-changing miracle discovery, and I want to share it with you.
That’s why I made a special gift for you! It’s a free training that shows you how to take care of your body, break old thought patterns, and take your life back from food fixation for good.
Imagine how it would be to…
Go through your day with food as an ally instead of a trigger
Let go of compulsive thoughts about what you ate yesterday or might eat tomorrow
Focus your time and energy on what you love rather than what’s on your plate
I cover all of this and more in this free training!
Grab it at the link below!
So how do you feel about this? Have you ever been plagued by nagging food thoughts, and are you ready to let them go for good?
Leave me a comment and tell me your biggest food thought challenge, and let me support you in taking your brain power back for good!
We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
According to psychologists, most of the actions we carry out on a day-to-day basis are the result of automatic, unconscious processes, or habits, none more so than the act of eating. But the good news is, you can capitalise on these processes to replace unhealthy tendencies with healthy eating habits. It’ll take a bit of effort at first – research has found that our brains require anything from 21 to 90 days to cement a new habit – but persist and, in a few weeks’ time, you’ll find you’re eating less without even realising it. Start following these fifteen simple steps today and you’ll be well on your way to training your brain to eat less…
Track your progress with a Scale, available at Tesco from £15
1. Stop eating mindlessly and start eating mindfully
Ever munched your way through a gargantuan box of popcorn at the cinema when you weren’t even hungry? Devoured your dinner in front of the telly without really tasting it? Logged onto Facebook over a cup of tea and a biscuit or thirteen?
Well, you’re not alone. “Mindless eating is a modern-day malady,” says Rachel Bartholomew, nutrition consultant and co-author of Mindful Eating. “Our hectic lifestyles mean it’s all too easy to make mindless food choices. We reach for unhealthy snacks for a quick energy boost and we’re constantly distracted while we eat.” Eating like this not only reduces our enjoyment of the food we eat, but can lead to overeating, as we fail to pick up on the signs of physical fullness, or to register what we’ve eaten mentally.
But, by engaging your mind, you can turn this habit around. Mindful eating is about tuning in to what your body really needs.
“When you find yourself reaching for chocolate or some other treat, pause,” advises mindfulness teacher Anna Black. “Acknowledge what is happening without judging. Ask yourself what’s driving you to reach for it – boredom? Or is it in response to something that’s happened? Pausing and noticing your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations helps you focus. You may still eat the chocolate but it becomes a choice rather than an unconscious, automatic reaction, and sometimes bringing that moment of choice into awareness helps us break a chain of automatic behaviour.”
2. Plan your meals in advance
Planning healthy meals before doing your weekly shop helps fortify you against the powers of the junk food BOGOF displays. If you’re going out for dinner, try to look at the menu (and nutritional information, if available) online in advance. You might decide to treat yourself to a healthy starter and ‘mini’ dessert rather than a pizza substantial enough for a family of four. Alternatively, if you expect to indulge in a ‘blowout’ meal or evening out, you can simply plan an extraordinarily virtuous set of meals for the following day.
3. Organise your kitchen
You don’t necessarily need to bin all your snacks – this process is about developing a mindful, balanced approach to eating, not crash dieting. But it is a good idea to put your ‘naughtier’ treats out of sight, to prevent mindless snacking.
4. Eat more protein
Protein takes longer to digest than carbs, meaning it’ll keep you fuller for longer. Research has found that eating a high protein breakfast results in lower calorie consumption for the rest of the day. Think eggs and beans – you can leave the 7am servings of steak to the bodybuilders.
5. Use smaller plates… and bowls… and spoons
Research has found that people serve themselves a third more ice cream when given a larger bowl, and half as much again when they use a larger spoon. Using smaller plates, bowls and spoons can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more than you actually are. And if your ice cream tends to bypass the bowl stage entirely, travelling directly from tub to mouth, start opting for individual portion-controlled pots (and yes, that also goes for crisps, popcorn, biscuits…)
6. And make them blue
Before you rush out on a mini crockery spending spree, take note. Research has found that we naturally consume less when we eat from brightly coloured plates and bowls. It’s thought that this is due to the degree of colour contrast between the food and the crockery. Try bright red or electric blue. On a side note, if you (or a significant other) struggle to eat your greens, a broccoli-coloured plate could help…
7. Serve yourself 20% less
Most people can eat 20% more or less than usual without really noticing. So, if you typically cook yourself a 100g portion of pasta, make it 80g. While you’re at it, try dishing up 20% more veg to fill you up whilst boosting your nutrient intake.
8. Turn it down
Researchers have found that not being able to hear the sound of your own chewing can result in overeating. So, if you’re listening to music or watching TV while you eat, keep the volume down. Better yet, turn it off completely.
9. Eat with the wrong hand
Eating with your non-dominant hand causes you to eat, on average, 30% less, by preventing ‘mindless’ eating. Using chopsticks (unless you happen to be particularly proficient!) may have similar benefits.
10. Make it last
“There’s a time lag of about 20 minutes between eating and the brain receiving the message that the stomach is full,” says Anna. “When we eat too quickly, we don’t create the opportunity to receive the message. If we take our time, we notice when the body says, ‘enough’.” Try setting a timer for 25 minutes – can you make it last?
Track your progress with a Scale, available at Tesco from £15
11. Go for a walk
Light physical exercise after a meal helps your muscles to absorb the glucose you have just consumed and prevents insulin spikes.
12. Cool off
Brown (good) fat burns calories to keep your body warm. Activate it by drinking a glass of iced water or taking a cold shower.
13. Spice it up
A pinch of cayenne pepper can boost your metabolism by up to 25% for up to four hours after eating. Capsaicin (found in cayenne and chilli peppers) has also been found to curb hunger and reduce cravings for sweet, high-fat foods.
14. Switch your snacks
Hungry between meals? Water and chewing gum have been found to act as appetite suppressants.
15. Keep a photo diary
Develop your awareness of how much you are really eating by snapping a shot of each meal, drink and snack on your phone, and reviewing it daily.