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Food cravings are the dieter’s worst enemy.

These are intense or uncontrollable desires for specific foods, stronger than normal hunger.

Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off.
Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off.

The types of foods that people crave are highly variable, but these are often processed junk foods that are high in sugar.

Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off.

Here are 11 simple ways to prevent or stop unhealthy food and sugar cravings.

1. Drink Water

Thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings.

If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. You may find that the craving fades away because your body was actually just thirsty.

Furthermore, drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits. In middle-aged and older people, drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and help with weight loss (1, 2, 3).

Bottom Line: Drinking water before meals may reduce cravings and appetite, as well as help with weight loss.

2. Eat More Protein

Eating more protein may reduce your appetite and keep you from overeating.

It also reduces cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied for longer (4).

One study of overweight teenage girls showed that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced cravings significantly (5).

Another study in overweight men showed that increasing protein intake to 25 percent of calories reduced cravings by 60 percent. Additionally, the desire to snack at night was reduced by 50 percent (6).

Bottom Line: Increasing protein intake may reduce cravings by up to 60 percent and cut the desire to snack at night by 50 percent.

3. Distance Yourself From the Craving

When you feel a craving, try to distance yourself from it.

For example, you can take a brisk walk or a shower to shift your mind onto something else. A change in thought and environment may help stop the craving.

Some studies have also shown that chewing gum can help reduce appetite and cravings (7, 8).

Bottom Line: Try to distance yourself from the craving by chewing gum, going on a walk or taking a shower.

4. Plan Your Meals

If possible, try to plan your meals for the day or upcoming week.

By already knowing what you’re going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty.

If you don’t have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.

Bottom Line: Planning your meals for the day or upcoming week eliminates spontaneity and uncertainty, both of which can cause cravings.

5. Avoid Getting Extremely Hungry

Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings.

To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and have healthy snacks close at hand.

By being prepared and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.

Bottom Line: Hunger is a big reason for cravings. Avoid extreme hunger by always having a healthy snack ready.

6. Fight Stress

Stress may induce food cravings and influence eating behaviors, especially for women (9, 10, 11).

Women under stress have been shown to eat significantly more calories and experience more cravings than non-stressed women (12).

Furthermore, stress raises your blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area (13, 14).

Try to minimize stress in your environment by planning ahead, meditating and generally slowing down.

Bottom Line: Being under stress may induce cravings, eating and weight gain, especially in women.

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