Have you decided to start a new diet with your New Year’s resolutions? Then, congratulations! Indeed, it’s always interesting to get a fresh start and get healthier eating habits.
However, what can prevent you from having.successful diet are cravings. We all have food cravings that we don’t control very well, and they are often responsible for us gaining weight. But don’t be desperate:every problem has solutions!
If you want to know how to manage cravings on a diet, just read the article below!
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Understanding Cravings: The Biological Signals vs. Emotional Responses
Hunger vs cravings
Generally, many people don’t make the difference between hunger and cravings. How do I know I’m hungry? Or how can I know that I just crave food?
Actually, there’s an easy way to make a distinction between hunger and cravings. You just have to know why you need to eat!
- Hunger is a purely physical sensation. Sometimes, it can be unpleasant, but you can still easily identify it. Indeed, you will many physical manifestations such as gurgling, stomach cramps, loss of concentration, and hypoglycemia. To satisfy your hunger, any food can be satisfying, as long as you reach a sufficient level of satiety.
- On the contrary, cravings are triggered by an emotional stimulus (boredom, anger, sadness, stress) or hormonal conditions (pregnancy, PMS…). Thus, you can only satisfy it with a specific type of food. Cravings generate a quasi-obsessional impulse, and if they’re not satisfied, they can generate great frustration.What are the causes of cravings?
What are the causes of cravings?
Cravings can have several causes:
- insufficient food intake caused by over-restrictive diets or non-replenishing dishes
- nutritional deficiencies in magnesium or iron
- poorly controlled ratio between energy expenditure and food intake
Whatever the cause, you must know how to manage your cravings efficiently. Thus, you will avoid excess weight and limit the impact of nibbling on your health.
My own experience with cravings
When you hear about emotional stimulus triggering the need for specific types of food, I easily recognize myself. Indeed, I’ve been an emotional eater for many years. This habit followed me during my teenage years and throughout my adulthood.
Whenever I was sad, angry, stressed out, or even during a certain period of the month, I would literally look for food. But not just any kind of food. Indeed, I’d always look for sweets (chocolate, candies…) and processed fatty foods (chips, cheese…). And this had a consequence on my weight in the long run.
Indeed, I became overweight when I was always slim. And I started yo-yo dieting where I would eat very restrictive diets, just to throw myself on food at the first opportunity. This became a vicious cycle and I didn’t know how to get out of it.
But one day, I met a coach during a training session on entrepreneurship. Suddenly, the conversation derived on cravings; and I recognized myself in what she said. Then, I asked her why I was in that situation. Do you know what she answered?
My coach answered that I had to explore my childhood to see when I started to eat like that. I did, and I realized she was right! Since I am 5 years old, my family has always given me food to keep me quiet – I was a capricious child. And this was the beginning of my healing process. I was able to address my cravings, and my own situation.
Strategies for Managing Cravings on a Diet
If you have hard times managing your cravings while you’re on a diet, here are some strategies for you. I have tried them myself; and many of them worked on me!
Plan your meals ahead
If you have intense cravings, one of the smartest strategies is to plan your meals ahead. What you can do is to write a shopping list when you buy foods and to stick to it.
Moreover, you can create your own weekly menus that you will have to respect to the T. However, I must admit that this is easier when you cook yourself, or when you work from home. If you have money, you can subscribe to meal delivery services to gain time.
This is a strategy I follow religiously to stop cravings while I’m on my diet. Indeed, sometimes, when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty. Yes, I know that it’s weird. However, drinking water can help you overcome cravings very efficiently. And I’m living proof for that! Don’t hesitate to have a gallon of water next to you during the day!
Eat satiating foods
When you eat satiating foods during your meals, cravings will be a bad memory. Personally, I recommend you eat enough proteins because they are filling foods.
Meats, fish, eggs must be essential pillars of your meals. However, if you’re vegan, don’t hesitate to eat legumes and nuts to regularly to fight cravings.
Besides proteins, you must eat real and whole foods to decrease cravings. Vegetables, fruits, nuits, good fats, and whole grains will complement your meals efficiently.
For example, if you’re on the Paleo Diet like me, you will ditch grains. However, vegetables, protein, fruits, and nuts will fill your stomach. Whatever the diet you follow, eat real foods!
As you may know now, I really enjoy including mindful techniques in my daily routine. And this also applies to my eating habits as well. Honestly, I had some difficulties with it, but if you can eat mindfully, you will certainly overcome your cravings.
What does eating mindfully involve? Actually, it’s not as difficult as it seems. You’ll just have to pay attention to the food you eat by eating in silence, or eating without electronic devices/TV. If you have other mindfulness habits that you apply during your meals, don’t hesitate to share them with me.
The Role of Psychological Wellness in Diet Success
Good habits are not enough to manage your cravings. Indeed, you must also add the psychological side to have successful dietary habits.
Manage your stress
Did you know that stress could lead you to overeat? Indeed, a study carried out by Harvard University showed that stress raised your cortisol levels, inducing cravings in sugar, fats, or both. Also, stress prevents you from exercising, increases insomnia, and induces people to drink more alcohol.
Thus, if you want to reduce your cravings, you must learn to manage your stress. What worked for me and that I recommend are the following:
- daily meditation
- moderate or intense exercise (walk, swimming, HIIT…)
- be surrounded by supportive people – I’m addressing this last recommendation below
Build a supportive environment around you
I’ve noticed that people who follow successful diets are surrounded by supportive people. Indeed, having the right support besides you will encourage you to be persistent and to embrace healthy eating habits.
This is especially true if the people around you also have healthy eating habits. That’s why you have many successful dieting groups like Weight Watchers. But you don’t need to integrate such a group.
If you don’t have money, try to see if you have faithful friends and/or family members who encourage you to stay motivated on your diet. Personally, my elder sister and my nephew are my best motivators. Just find yours!
Embrace self-compassion and avoid dietary perfectionism
Your diet says you must eat five times and you only eat three times? So what? Don’t hurt yourself, and don’t be sad because you didn’t follow your diet at the perfection.
The problem in our world is that we are always striving for perfection and we’re not allowed to stumble. We’re not entitled to make mistakes. But you must always remember that perfection is not of this world.
So, don’t beat up yourself if you failed to follow your diet one day. If you eat sugar once in your diet, it’s not that bad. Just resolve to follow your diet properly the next day. Be kind to yourself.
Navigating the Real World: Practical Tips for Everyday Situations
When you follow a diet, you may find yourself in some social situations that can be difficult to handle. Here are some practical tips that will help you manage your cravings on specific situations.
Social events and peer pressure
You must be mentally tough when you go to social gatherings with your family or your colleagues. Indeed, you have many temptations there and following your diet won’t be easy. And this is especially true when you see your skinny colleagues eat whatever they want. Believe, I know this type of situations. Been there, done that.
If you attend many social events, I recommend you choose the healthiest food options that are available. Eat protein, vegetables if you find them. Choose healthy desserts with fruits if this option exists. Otherwise, skip dessert and order coffee or tea.
Prepare smart snacks
If you are used to having your cravings, and if you can’t help yourself, then smart snacks will be your best allies. Indeed, you can satisfy your cravings with healthy snacks that won’t make you fat.
Nowadays, you’ll see more and more diet programs that include 3 meals and 2 snacks to tackle this problem. If you don’t know what kind of snacks you must eat, I recommend you read Lean For Life by Louise Parker.
In this book, this celebrity coach recommends you compose your snacks with healthy fats (e.g. almonds), protein (e.g. ham, yoghurt), and carbs (e.g. fruits). She has lots of recipes of healthy snacks in your book, and you can be inspired by them. See, every problem has a solution!
Don’t neglect your beauty sleep
Did you know that proper sleep could regulate your appetite? Now, you understand why many doctors insist on the importance of sleep. You must sleep between 7 to 9 hours every night and believe, you’ll get slimmer!
Indeed, we tend to forget the benefits on sleep on our health, especially in our society where the lack of sleep is highly favored. Actually, I did believe that too; and I didn’t get enough sleep when I was younger.
However, this is not the right attitude to adopt. Let go of the hustle culture and take care of yourself. Your body will thank you!
Stay motivated: track your progress and celebrate your small victories
When you start a diet, you must track your progress to see if you’re on the right path. Check your weight every week, not every day! I know a woman who weighs herself everyday, and I find that it adds stress to your dieting process. Why?
Because you may gain weight for hormonal reasons from one day to another. You may not lose weight like you expect because you didn’t go to the toilets. Or because of other reasons. But if you go on the scale every day, you’ll be distressed and discouraged. So, only weigh yourself one a week.
Another tip that I can share with you is to check how many days you were able to go without cravings. Then, celebrate! Get that manicure or that massage session you like. Visit a museum. Well, do something you like!
Conclusion: how to manage cravings is essential for a successful diet
How you manage cravings in your diet will depend on you. Indeed, you can adopt practical or psychological strategies to manage your cravings. But what I recommend is a combination of both. You’re on the right path to lose that weight successfully!
Well, that’s it for today! What do you think of my tips to manage your cravings on a diet? How do you manage your cravings on a daily basis? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
Take care, lovelies!
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