One minute, you’re trying to live a healthy life. The next minute, you’re devouring a chocolate cupcake with buttercream frosting. What the heck happened? You got blindsided by a craving. In a study at Tufts University, 91% of people said they’ve experienced strong cravings, but when you eat the foods that satisfy those cravings, it triggers the release of feel-good brain chemicals and your brain urges you to do the exact same thing next time a craving strikes. So, here’s how to derail your desire for unhealthy foods and help prevent unwanted weight gain. These tips come from Prevention magazine.
- Distract yourself with music. Studies show that people have a profound emotional reaction to music. So, create an upbeat playlist to listen to whenever cravings strike. You’ll be distracted and get an emotional boost. So, you won’t need the emotional boost from food.
- Wait it out. Dr. Cynthia Bulik, a specialist in eating disorders, says that people cave in to cravings because they think the urge will just keep getting worse. Cravings are like waves – they build, crest and disappear. If you can successfully “surf the urge,” you have a good chance of avoiding a snack food-fest.
- Get more sleep! Researchers at the University of Chicago found that even a few sleepless nights can reduce levels of the “I’m full” chemical leptin and boost levels of ghrelin – the appetite trigger. That sleep-deprived chemical change causes cravings for cookies, chips and bread to nearly double.
- Picture yourself healthy. Dr. Bob Maurer, author of One Small Step Can Change Your Life, created the “Stop!” technique. Basically, every time a food craving pops into your head, think “Stop!” Then, picture yourself healthy, lean and fit. After a while, your brain will dismiss the food image, and the cravings will subside. Dr. Maurer said that one of his clients used the “Stop!” method five times a day and within two weeks, she stopped turning to sweets every night after dinner.