Everyone, no matter how disciplined they are with their diet, will fall victim to cravings for some food item from time to time. For people trying to lose weight, these cravings are even more challenging to deal with than for someone who is simply maintaining weight. Regardless of whether or not you’re trying to lose weight, however, the cravings can be the only thing causing you to break your normal diet and exceed the calories you usually try without.
Most people know that getting some form of exercise and eating healthy, low-fat foods is key to maintaining good health, but with the hectic and rushed schedules so many people have today is eating right and exercising is sometimes easier said than done. The best way to insure yourself against a nutritional disaster when you get that cravings throughout the day is to plan ahead and use a little strategy.
To start, try to plan 5 to 6 small meals, eating one every 3 hours of the day, and make it a point not to miss any of these meals. The human body takes an average of 2½ hours to digest a meal, so by the time you start to feel a craving it is almost time for your next meal anyway.
Make it a point to drink plenty of water. Often times, the feeling of hunger between meals is actually your body trying to signal thirst. Having a bottle of water with you throughout the day and making it a point to take constant ‘sips’ throughout the day will keep you hydrated, feel better, and eliminate a common cause of cravings.
When you are at home, always try to have some fresh fruit on hand. If you’re feeling peckish, the fruit is a better choice than cake or chips. Also, make a fat-free dip and cut some fresh vegetables like carrots and celery, and keep them in the fridge. This gives you another quick and healthy snack that you can just grab and eat during a craving.
Never go to a party, meeting, or other event where food is available on an empty stomach. This causes you to overeat immediately when you get there. Always eat a small meal or at least eat a good, healthy snack before you go, as this will help prevent the cravings you get there.
If there are certain snacks that you really enjoy, try not to cut them out completely. You’ll only enjoy them too much if you can’t control the urge to have them later. Schedule these snacks into your day, and just make them snacks that you eat occasionally and in moderate amounts when you do.
Keep in mind that just because certain foods are fat-free doesn’t mean they have no calories. When choosing fat-free snacks, pay attention to how many calories they have and adjust your portions accordingly. It’s very easy to assume that fat-free is “safe” and goes way overboard.
The next time you get cravings, remember these little guidelines and you’ll be able to deal with them without ruining your efforts to maintain healthy eating habits.