Making your subconscious habits conscious to identify in what situations you start to have cravings could be the most important step you take. Writing down the situations when you feel the cravings, or simply doing this as part of your food journal can help stop the food cravings from happening, or directly allow you to address them. The sight, or the smell of food, location, time of day, your emotional state such as if you are stressed, or lack of sleep are just some of the situations that can spark a food craving.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #2 | Rehearse
Once you identify the situations where you crave foods, anticipate these situations like an elite athlete before a competition. For example, you may say to yourself, “If I smell fresh chocolate chip muffins on my way to work, I’ll keep walking”. This rehearsal process conditions the mind to make the body react favorably before you can enter into a deep inner monologue, which invariably doesn’t work out well. The cravings process works in a linear, step-by-step fashion with (1) a cue, (2) activation, (3) arousal, and (4) release. Rehearsing stops the food cravings at the cue step before going deeper into the process.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #3 | Think Negative
Pair unhealthy foods and those foods you crave with a stream of unappealing images. It’s the exact opposite of what advertising agencies do. For example, next time you have a craving for coke, picture in your mind the thought of a large bag of sugar. Then imagine opening up the bag and scooping 10 teaspoons worth of sugar into your mouth. That’s how much sugar is in a can of coke, because there is 1 teaspoon per 4 grams of sugar, and a can of coke has 39 grams of sugar.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #4 | Chew Gum
Cravings can rear their ugly head when you are experiencing a stressful situation, or even lack of sleep. Grabbing a piece of gum can help stave off that craving for pastries, chocolate, or whatever the vice. The thought of taking out the gum, then putting the gum back in after snacking is not that appealing for most people.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #5 | Drink Water
Water is not only very important for maximal fat loss and improved health, but it can also help prevent cravings. Oftentimes, our bodies can have trouble differentiating between dehydration and hunger. When all you need is a glass of water, your body can trick you into thinking you will be satisfied with some more food. When you feel a craving, drink a glass of water and wait a few minutes. The cravings may subside.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #6 | Tighten Your Belt a Notch
This can help remind you of the lower bell flab you are trying to lose and help motivate you to avoid unhealthy food. It’s a simple psychological trick that creates a physical association that you can tie to the negative impact of succumbing to your cravings.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #7 | Purge Your Cupboards
While this tip is listed as #7, it could be #1, or #2 on the list. Purge your apartment, your desk at work, and any other place that you may have foods devoid of nutritional value. Empty calories belong in the garbage, not in your stomach! The power of “out of sight, out of mind” cannot be underestimated. There’s no reason to create any more cues, because our minds are getting assaulted with savory images of food all day long.
Some More Tips to Stop Cravings
Brushing your teeth is a tactic to help avoid late night snacking, which is mainly something that’s habitual. Many times when we eat late at night, it’s by force of habit, not because we are really hungry. Another tactic is to avoid the kitchen after a certain time at night, say 8pm. Many of us go in the kitchen like mindless zombies looking for stuff to munch on, so this “no kitchen re-entry” rule can be very helpful. Brushing your teeth and making this commitment can help prevent you from digging into that stash of oreo cookies right before bed (but hopefully you’ve already thrown out that stash of oreos).