8 Tips to Mindfully Manage and Kick Your Food Cravings

Woman Having Food Cravings

Modern cuisine has radically altered the dietary habits of the human race and made it harder to enjoy a healthy diet. We are surrounded by foods and snacks that have pleasant tastes but are ultimately bad for our health. Everything from fast food to processed snacks available at grocery stores and rest stops is cheap and tasty. 

These foods are also highly addictive due to the flavors and additives the manufacturers use to give them their taste. While this has been effective for the companies who sell the food, it has proven somewhat detrimental to the country's health. This is especially frustrating since the addictive flavors found in these foods can make it difficult to resist unhealthy snacking habits.

It has happened all too often that we find ourselves craving a snack that we know is not good for us. Sometimes, this could be a piece of candy, a cookie, chips, or possibly an entire burger. When these cravings hit, it can be extremely difficult to resist because we crave the flavor more than genuine sustenance. 

Because of this, we compromise our health to enjoy the flavors as these foods provide little or no nutritional value. Despite knowing how unhealthy our snack choice is, resistance remains challenging because there is a confirmed connection between food and the parts of our brain that release pleasure hormones. This begs the question of how we can manage these cravings and eventually rid ourselves of them completely.

#1: Drink Water

As strange as it sounds, drinking more water can help manage cravings in unexpected ways. Despite having no nutritional value, we tend to lean towards unhealthy snacks to fill our odd cravings. Because these foods are not nutritional, using these snacks to fill our occasional bouts of hunger will not satisfy our hunger, and we will end up being just as hungry later. However, it might surprise you that our hunger is not always hunger. 

Human biology is complicated, and it is possible for our brains to register thirst as hunger. Misattributing hunger to thirst is a common issue and one we must overcome with proper diligence. One of the best ways to mitigate food cravings is to drink water.

Woman Drinking Water

When you crave a snack, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes to see if the craving fades. This is because your body might be triggering the same physical sensations to alert you of thirst that it uses for hunger. It is important to ensure you use water to address this craving, as juice or soda will only exacerbate the issue due to the sugar and sodium content.

#2: Focus on Protein

The feelings of hunger we experience throughout the day are usually the result of a poor diet since we are not getting the nutrients we need to sustain ourselves. We need a balanced diet to remain energized and healthy, usually combining several food groups to ensure we get everything we need. A significant amount of protein is one of the main nutrients required for a balanced diet.

Protein is most commonly associated with red meat like steak, which is a filling meal, but there are other sources. Protein can come from other sources, such as meats like poultry, legumes like peanuts, and even certain vegetables. Protein is one of the most energizing food groups we consume, but it also serves another purpose. Protein is an extremely filling nutrient that satiates our hunger for most of the day. Starting the day with a high-protein breakfast can minimize the urge to snack between meals.

Sources of Protein

A study conducted on overweight teenage girls corroborated the benefits of protein and craving reduction. The girls in the test group were given high-protein breakfasts that reduced their overall cravings throughout the day. Additionally, another study on overweight men found that a daily calorie intake that was 25% protein reduced cravings by 60%. Therefore, protein has become a proven resource for reducing the urge to snack on junk food.

#3: Psychology Matters

Believe it or not, psychology plays a huge role in craving control. Insofar as snacking is concerned, the psychology lies in the temptation the snack's presence generates. It has been scientifically proven that we are more likely to eat food when it is in our sight despite our initial desire to abstain. Additionally, we are more likely to eat nearby snacks and meals when distracted since it provides an outlet when our minds are checked out. 

Essentially, the presence of food makes it harder to avoid eating it because we know in the back of our minds that it is available. While this is not the best state of mind, it is the default for modern humans and is exacerbated by the lack of physical outlets our civilized society provides.

Woman Avoiding an Unhealthy Meal

Overcoming this psychological phenomenon requires us to put distance between ourselves and the food tempting us at the moment. This could mean going for a walk or drive when a craving hits so we are not tempted to go to the kitchen. Ideally, this stroll would be done without cash or credit cards, so there is no temptation to stop at a store and pick up the object of temptation. Alternatively, you might want to take this opportunity to throw the snack out so the temptation is eliminated.

#4: Find Stress Outlets

It is almost impossible to go through life without experiencing stress. Stress can manifest due to interpersonal, professional, or psychological events that wear away at our patience. Working to correct these issues can generate more stress than it fixes, depending on the root of our stress. 

When stress becomes an issue, it is important to exercise proper stress relief through means that will not make our stress worse. There is a link between stress and excessive eating that has been dubbed "stress eating." While the name is a little on the nose, it is appropriate since people have been known to eat their feelings away. This is because the flavors in certain foods can trigger dopamine responses in our brains that help us feel good when stressed out.

A Woman Exercising

If you want to avoid becoming a stress eater, you will need to develop a healthy stress management regimen. One of the best ways to manage stress is to develop a regular exercise routine to help us work off some of what we eat and trigger a more significant dopamine release. Stress eating provides temporary pleasure, usually replaced by guilt and more stress when we register that we have eaten despite our efforts to avoid snacking. Finding a healthier outlet for stress is critical to prevent this issue.

#5: Meal Replacements

Sometimes we snack on unhealthy foods because we do not have time to make a full meal that will keep us nourished throughout the day. This issue is extremely common in modern society since we are constantly working and in situations where we have less time to sit around. Unfortunately, most available snacks in office settings or vending machines are unhealthy and include potato chips or cookies rather than more nutritious snacks like carrots or celery. 

Even when those snacks are available, their nutrients are usually insufficient to compensate for missing a meal. Sometimes, we need to substitute traditional meals with specialized replacements.

Having a Meal Replacement Shake

There are meal replacement shakes on the market designed to provide the necessary proteins and nutrients in a convenient and decently-tasting beverage. The shakes on the market vary; the trick is finding a flavor or manufacturer we like, but these shakes can help. Preparing a meal replacement shake is extremely easy and will keep us feeling full until the next meal. As a result, drinking these replacement shakes minimizes our desire to snack on the food offered by more convenient sources.

#6: Do Not Shop On An Empty Stomach

We have all gone grocery shopping at weird times, usually because we need something that has only recently been depleted in our homes. Balancing work and shopping can be difficult unless you are willing to wait until the weekend to do your shopping. Unfortunately, we usually do some of our shopping during the work week, which requires immediate responses. 

While this is not inherently problematic, it is important to ensure we are well-fed before going to the local grocery or convenience store. When we shop while hungry, we are more likely to make impulse purchases of snack foods we try to avoid.

Shopping For Food

This phenomenon ties into the previously mentioned psychology of eating what is in our line of sight. When we are hungry and go shopping, that psychological impulse is amplified because virtually every food that could tempt us is easily accessible in a shopping aisle. For example, if you have recently sworn off Pop-Tarts and go shopping on an empty stomach, you might subconsciously purchase a box because your empty stomach is augmenting your cravings.

#7: Develop Mindful Eating Habits

One of the best ways to mitigate impulsive snacking is to work towards mindful eating habits. With time and effort, we can train ourselves to track what we eat and when. This gives us the power to be more aware of when we are about to eat something we know we should avoid. Once you develop mindful eating habits, you will have an easier time determining when you are genuinely hungry or when you crave a snack. Mindful eating is mostly about limiting and eliminating distractions while we eat and focusing on what we are eating at any given moment.

Mindful Eating Habits

Unfortunately, we live in a society where distractions are far more prevalent than they once were. As a society, we have become accustomed to eating meals while watching television or scrolling through our smartphones. This can backfire since we develop an association with those distractions and eating, meaning we condition ourselves to want food when we watch certain shows or browse certain websites. 

Mindful eating habits have been scientifically proven to reduce errant snacking. A 6-week study on binge eaters determined that mindful eating habits reduced their episodes from 4 times a week to 1.5 times. It also reduced the severity of those episodes.

#8: Create a Meal Plan

Despite our otherwise chaotic existence, we thrive in a structured environment where everything is planned properly. This can include a work schedule, a fitness routine, or any other plan that helps us prepare for a future occurrence. This same principle applies to formulating a meal plan for the week.

Creating a Meal Plan

Taking the time to figure out what you will eat Monday through Sunday of next week can provide the structure you need to avoid snacking. This is because a meal plan eliminates the question of what you will have for dinner after you have finished lunch. You can even make scheduled snack periods with a specific food for that snack. A schedule can help clear up any loose ends with your snacking habits.

Keep it All Natural!

Spontaneous cravings can be detrimental to your weight loss or management efforts. While it is hard to give up certain snacks, you will find your health improves when you can cut the excess food out of your life. Unfortunately, managing cravings is difficult in a country where snacks are constantly advertised and rubbed in your face. The easy access to junk food is part of why America is among the countries with the highest obesity rates. Nevertheless, it is possible to control your cravings instead of letting them control you. All you need is the right tools to manage your cravings and eliminate perceived hunger.

A Healthy Smoothie

We at Bella All Natural might not be able to help you create a meal plan, but we can offer a valuable tool for your efforts. Our range of Slim Shakes, available in strawberry, chocolate, or vanilla, are specialized meal replacement shakes designed to replace your breakfast or evening snack. Using our shakes as an alternative to your usual snack could be what you need to help shed those extra pounds. Each flavor uses natural ingredients, which means there are no addictive additives to entice you into drinking more than is recommended. Proper health is a journey; no matter where that journey takes you, remember always to keep it All Natural!


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