Wondering how to stop craving food?
Do you find yourself constantly craving food? Are you unable to stick to a healthy diet because of your cravings? If so, don’t worry – you are not alone.
Cravings are incredibly common and can be incredibly difficult to resist.
However, there are things that you can do to help curb your cravings and improve your overall health.
In this blog post, we will discuss 16 tips and tricks for stopping food cravings. We will also provide some helpful advice on how to deal with cravings when they strike.
Let’s get started!
Basic types and causes of food cravings
There are two types of food cravings:
- gradual, non-selective cravings
- quick, selective cravings
The first type of craving, gradual non-selective cravings, is caused by hunger. Pretty simple!
These are the hunger pangs most people feel a few times a day signaling it’s time to eat. This type of hunger is more simple and easier to understand.
In our list of 19 tips to stop craving food, the first 6 tips are for this type of craving.
If you’ve ever been working hard and then went to an exercise class, you probably felt hungry afterwards. This is a gradual, non-selective food craving! You were hungry and wanted to eat because your body was telling you that it needed nutrients.
Because this type of craving for food is so familiar, we tend to forget about it.
The second type of craving, quick selective cravings, is more complex and confusing because they are emotionally based. These cravings are caused by a variety of things, including:
- Hormones: An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, could lead to food cravings.
- Appetite centers in the brain: The areas of the brain responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward play a role in food cravings.
- Emotional triggers: Various emotional triggers can cause food cravings. For example, stress or boredom might lead to craving comfort foods.
Here’s an example of a selective food craving: You are at work and hear a radio advertisement for a Kit Kat Bar. You’re slightly stressed, hungry, and tired. Suddenly, all you can think of is a candy bar and it feels compulsive or urgent you must get it now.
How can I curb my cravings for food?
Here is how to read our list of 16 tips to stop craving food:
- Apply tips 1-5 first! They are simple, quick fixes you can apply immediately for the gradual, non-specific type of food craving.
- Then if you are still experiencing cravings, start experimenting with tips 6-13. These are “basic” tips for the emotional food craving type.
- Then, tips 14-16 are more advanced and nuanced. Think of these “tips” more like skills, or ideas to explore in therapy if you’re still having cravings after trying out tips 1-13.
1 – Drink enough water
Did you know that dehydration can cause food cravings?
It’s true! When we are dehydrated, our bodies often send signals to the brain telling us to get more water somehow!
But then the problem is sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether you’re hungry or thirsty!
So we often think we’re hungry when in reality we might be dehydrated and thirsty. The next time you have a craving, drink a glass of water and see how you feel afterwards.
A good rule of thumb is to drink eight glasses of water per day. However, this may vary depending on your activity level and other factors.
If you find it difficult to drink eight glasses of water per day, try carrying a water bottle with you or keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge.
You can also infuse your water with fruit or herbs to make it more flavorful.
Drinking lemon infused water first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day and help reduce cravings later on.
2 – Eat enough protein
Protein is an essential nutrient that helps to keep us feeling full and satisfied after eating.
It takes longer for the body to break down protein, which means we feel full for longer.
This can help to reduce food cravings because we are not constantly looking for our next meal.
One study showed eating 25% more protein leads to a significant decrease in cravings.
In addition, protein helps to regulate the hormones that control hunger.
Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that play a role in appetite. Leptin is a hormone that suppresses appetite, while ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite.
When we eat protein-rich meals, our levels of leptin increase while our levels of ghrelin decrease.
This hormonal balance can help to reduce food cravings.
Now that you know how important protein is for reducing food cravings, be sure you practice increasing protein intake at your next meal or snack!
3 – Eat plenty of healthy fats
Healthy fats are an essential part of a well-rounded diet.
They help to keep us feeling full and satisfied after eating, which can help to reduce cravings.
In addition, healthy fats help to regulate the hormones that control hunger.
Just like protein, healthy fats can help to increase levels of leptin while decreasing levels of ghrelin.
This hormonal balance can help reduce food cravings and make it easier to stick to your healthy eating goals.
Now that you know how important healthy fats are to fight cravings and actual hunger, be sure to include them in your diet!
4 – Plan your meals / Don’t get too hungry
One of the best ways to reduce food cravings is to plan your meals.
When you have a plan for what you are going to eat, you are less likely to make unhealthy choices or indulge in cravings.
Meal planning can also help you save time and money.
Now what’s the point of planning meals? So you don’t get too hungry!
If you let yourself get too hungry, you are more likely to make unhealthy choices or indulge in cravings.
I cannot tell you how many episodes of binge eating are because people go too hard in their weight loss attempts, starve themselves, and just end up bingeing – with more weight gain at the end of the day!
To avoid getting too hungry, it is important to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day.
A good goal to shoot for is 3 meals and 1-2 snacks.
This will help to keep your blood sugar levels stable and reduce the likelihood of cravings.
If you find yourself getting too hungry between meals, try eating a healthy snack such as fruits or vegetables, nuts or seeds, yogurt, or whole grain toast.
5 – Don’t skip meals
Did we mention eating regular meals and snacks? This means don’t skip meals!
Skipping meals can make you more likely to indulge in cravings.
When you skip meals, your blood sugar levels drop and you become more prone to making unhealthy choices.
That sweet tooth of yours for comfort food will come out with fewer calories.
To avoid skipping meals, plan ahead and pack a healthy snack or meal with you if you know you will be away from home.
6 – Get enough sleep
We all know how important sleep is for our overall health, but did you know that it can also help reduce food cravings?
When we are tired, our bodies crave sugar and simple carbohydrates to give us a quick burst of energy.
Unfortunately, this type of energy is short-lived and will only leave you feeling more tired afterwards.
Getting enough sleep is essential for curbing cravings because it helps to regulate the hormones that control hunger.
As noted above, leptin suppresses appetite, while ghrelin stimulates appetite. When we are sleep-deprived, our levels of leptin decrease while our levels of ghrelin increase.
This hormonal imbalance can lead to increased food cravings.
So how much sleep do you need to reduce food cravings? Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep per night.
7 – Watch the stress levels
Stress can also trigger cravings.
When we are stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol.
Cortisol can increase feelings of hunger and make us crave unhealthy foods.
One 2013 study records the significant relationship between stress and food cravings.
To reduce stress and its associated cravings, try to get regular exercise, spend time with friends and family, or take a yoga class.
You can also try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. Of course to stop cravings you can’t just meditate them away, but learning to control your mind is important!
Oh, have you ever tried to meditate on insufficient sleep? It’s tough. So be sure to sleep like we mentioned above!!
8 – Brush your teeth
This may sound like a weird tip, but it can actually be quite effective!
Brushing teeth after meals or when you have cravings can help to reduce cravings.
The minty flavor of toothpaste can help to curb sweet cravings.
Plus, the act of brushing teeth or chewing gum can help to signal to your brain that you are done eating.
Try this next time you have a craving and see if it helps!
9 – Drink flavored water
Don’t have your toothbrush readily available?
No problem, just reach for a bottle of flavored water!
Flavored water can help to reduce cravings by giving you a refreshing and flavorful alternative to sugary drinks.
Plus, it can help to keep you hydrated throughout the day.
There are many different flavors of flavored water available, so find one that you enjoy and drink up!
10 – Chew gum / distract
Don’t have flavored water or your toothbrush? Well perhaps even more convenient is chewing gum!
Chewing gum can help to reduce cravings by keeping your mouth busy and distracting you from thoughts of food.
It can also help to freshen your breath and keep your teeth clean.
So next time you have a craving, try chewing a piece of gum and see if it helps!
While there is sugar in gum, if you’re worried about this sugar content, think about how much better than few calories of sugar from gum are in comparison to the many calories from a sugar binge!
Try listening to music while you chew gum!
11 – Play game on phone
If you find yourself with a craving and nothing else to do, try playing a game on your phone!
This can help to distract you from thoughts of food and help to pass the time.
There are many different types of games available, so find one that you enjoy and give it a try!
Sugar cravings are so often related to boredom, if you have other fun interests then this can help reduce food intake – simply because you have more ways to handle the inevitable downtime in life!
My favorite is chess!
12 – Call a friend
Another great way to reduce cravings is to call a friend.
Talking on the phone can help to take your mind off of food and provide some much-needed social interaction.
So next time you have a craving, pick up the phone and give a friend a call!
And yes! We do know this is a silly sounding tip. But hey, you never know, give it a try!
13 – Light exercise
Finally, another great way to reduce cravings is to do some light exercise.
Exercise can help to take your mind off of food and also help to boost your mood. Of course it can also help you lose weight too!
So next time you have a craving, go for a walk or do some other form of light exercise!
All make sense?
Try tips 1-13 and let me know in the comments how it goes with your food cravings!
But please know sometimes you need more advanced training, tools and coaching.
That’s where tips 14-16 come in handy!
14 – Try a food craving journal
If you still find yourself struggling to curb cravings, try keeping a journal.
In your journal, write down what you are craving and how long the craving lasts.
Write down before you eat! This is #1 way how to stop craving food!
Pausing and journaling before your first bite will make you think before chewing mindlessly.
You’ll be more likely to make a healthier choice when you’re aware of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel.
In other words by journaling before you eat you’ll automatically practice mindful eating, which will help to stop food cravings.
15 – Get to know your Inner Child
If you’re having a hard time saying no to cravings, it may be helpful to get to know your Inner Child.
Your Inner Child is the part of you that loves sweets and junk food.
Try talking to your Inner Child and see what she or he has to say.
You may be surprised at how understanding and helpful your Inner Child can be!
While you may not understand how to talk to your inner child, please know you definitely talk with your inner child in a practical way!
16 – Get to know your psychological “parts”
Did you know you have more than one inner child?
There’s probably a rebel, a productive part, a “manager” and even a “firefighter”.
You have multiple “parts” or personalities within your psyche.
Each of these parts can be understood and as you get to know your system of parts, then you can release them.
As the subconscious parts of your psyche get explored and seen with awareness, often the trigger foods lose their power as well.
You naturally eat healthier with less compulsion to have junk foods.
It’s crazy how eating habits are related to mental wellbeing!
So, how to stop craving food? The first 13 tips and tricks we’ve listed above should help to curb your cravings.
However, if you find that you’re still struggling, it may be helpful to try the last few tips and seek out more advanced training or tools.
Our team at Eating Enlightenment is here to help! We offer a variety of services including coaching, counseling, and more. Contact us today to learn more about how to stop craving food!