You are going about your day feeling like your diet is on track, you’ve had your healthy lunch and the next minute you’re longing for something to satisfy your sweet tooth. Or for some, it may not even be something sweet; hot chips, a packet of chips, a soft drink. Before you know it, you have made your little trip to the closest vending machine and your finish off a chocolate bar.
What just happened? You thought you had your diet under control and then the next minute you have succumbed to your cravings. These urges are fuelled by feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine, released when you eat these type of foods, which creates a rush of euphoria that your brain seeks over and over. How do you kick these cravings in the butt? Follow our expert tips.
- Prevention is key
What’s the best solution to overcoming the feeling of cravings? Prevention. Before we start diving into the psychological ways we can overcome cravings, let’s get back to basics and make sure we are fuelling our body with the right foods. Adding quality fat and protein to our main meals are the easiest way to keep you full, avoid snacking and even eliminate cravings.
A recent study in the journal Appetite explored that playing the game Tetris reduces the strength, frequency, and vividness of naturally occurring cravings. The study found that participants who played Tetris had significantly lower cravings. Bored during your lunch break? Distract yourself by reading a book, playing a game on your phone or calling your friend and you might just find that you will avoid that after lunch cravings.
- Give yourself a cheat meal
If you are trying to eat healthy it is important to give yourself a cheat meal, not a cheat day. Having a cheat meal is a great way to keep your metabolism moving and also can you help overcome the cravings. We often crave things when we know we can’t have them, by telling yourself that you will get to enjoy a cheat meal on Friday night it will take the pressure off and give you something to look forward too.
- Are you a creature of habit?
Without even realising it your cravings may be a result of your routine. Eating a packet of chips while watching TV at night can create a powerful association between food and your brain. Your brain becomes accustomed to these habits, therefore as soon as you sit on the lounge your brain triggers a habit of reaching for a snack. When this happens try and stop and imagine a healthy version of yourself, whether that be lean and fit or active with the kids. After a while, your craving will subside.