Question

Controlling Appetite

How can I manage my food cravings?

A Answers (17)

  • AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Kill Your Cravings
    You do not have to sacrifice your diet to satisfy your cravings. Learn more on this topic in this video by Dr. Oz.


    Helpful? 4 people found this helpful.
  • AMichael Roizen, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    We know weight loss isn't as simple as "eat less and exercise more." You need ways to get over the humps, around the cravings, and through the temptation to binge. Here’s how to give temptation the slip:
    • Practice mindful meditation. Spend just 7 minutes a day focusing on recognizing, accepting, and experiencing your cravings rather than trying to ignore or suppress them. Dieters who do have far fewer food cravings, and resist them better.
    • Get on your feet. Especially if you're craving chocolate. A quick walk will curb even major chocoholic cravings in just 15 minutes. It works by stimulating feel-good brain chemicals and feeding your spirit.
    • Hit the mute button and do sit-ups when commercials come on. You'll switch off cravings, too. Adults (and kids) eat more snack foods after watching TV shows loaded with food ads.
    • Try yoga. Aside from making you stronger, suppler, and calmer, yoga helps you tune in to your appetite and recognize whether you're actually hungry or just bored.
    • Have that little cookie you can't stop thinking about. Sometimes, trying to stifle a craving makes it grow so intense that, when you finally cave, you eat the whole bag. Yep, having one little cookie now may save you from having 30 later. Don't beat yourself up. Relish it. Take a small bite, savor the taste, have another bite. Thoroughly enjoy it. Then move on.
    Helpful? 2 people found this helpful.
  • AHeidi Skolnik, Sports Medicine, answered
    Heidi Skolnik - How can I manage food cravings when starting a healthier diet?
    Do you have a sweet tooth? How about a sweet-salty-crunchy one? In this video, sports nutritionist and Dr. Oz Show guest Heidi Skolnik explains how to manage your food cravings and drop those extra pounds, once and for all.
  • AJudith Beck, Psychology, answered
    1. Label it. This is just a craving, it doesn’t mean I have to give in. Just because I want to eat this right now doesn’t mean I should.
    2. Firmly make the decision to NOT give in. 
    3. Distract myself. The moment my attention is on something else is the moment the craving starts to go away. If I’m highly distracted, there is no way I’ll be able to focus on the craving.
  • ADaphne Oz, Health Education, answered
    How can I manage my food cravings?

    A great way to manage a food craving is to actually have a little bit of it, so that you satisfy what you are longing for. Watch health educator and author Daphne Oz explain how giving in to a food craving is ok, as long as you don't overdo it.

    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AKirsi Paalanen, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered

    Here are the top tips I give my clients to reduce their cravings:

    1.  Eat the right carbs. A sugar craving is simply your body asking for energy. When sugar is digested in the body it becomes glucose. Glucose is what fuels our body and cells and essential for maintaining your energy levels.  Eating the right type of carbs helps your body maintain a steady flow of energy into the body and wards off blood sugar highs and lows. All carbs contain sugar but depending on their chemical structures – simple or complex – they are processed differently. Most simple carbs are highly processed, contain refined sugars and have little or no nutrients which you will find in many processed foods. Instead go for natural foods like fruit which do contain naturally occurring simple sugars but are high in fiber so it helps slow down digestion, limiting the amount of sugar that flows into the cells. Try whole grains too, like brown rice, quinoa, barley or even millet. Sweet vegetables can be really effective as well to ward off sugar cravings. Try carrots, sweet potatoes and beets.

    2.  Find balance. Eating a balanced diet coupled with a balanced lifestyle is key to being healthy, maintaining your ideal weight and reducing cravings. Our bodies sometimes trigger a craving in us when we are off balance. For example eating a diet too rich in sugar may cause a craving for meat. Foods that maintain balance and help curb your cravings are whole grains, beans, vegetables and dark leafy greens.

    3.  Do something you love. Often we feel a need to reach out for our favorite food when we are stressed, anxious, bored or even just sad. Instead of reaching out for the oreo or bag of chips when our emotions get the better of us, do something you enjoy. Talk to a friend, go on a walk or to the gym, dance, sing or whatever makes your heart sing. 

    Helpful? 3 people found this helpful.
  • Eating smaller, clean meals throughout the day helps to keep cravings away.  Include a portion of lean protein (about the size of the palm of your hand) and a portion (about the size of your fist) of a healthy carb every 2 to 3 hours. Set a timer so you don't forget. After 5 to 10 days, your body will become your timer and let you know exactly when it's time to eat again. The wonderful thing too is that your body will be craving nutritious wholesome foods when it's time to eat.  Missing a meal can cause cravings for unhealthier foods. Of course, remember to drink your water too!
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AKate Geagan, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Did you know cravings peak, like a wave? If you can ride it out, the craving will pass. For many of us, if we’ve indulged in the same patterns for years, this behavior has strong emotional ties that reinforce the pattern. (Example: Arrive home. Open ice cream. Sit. Eat.) The stories we tell ourselves matter, too: Many women report peak chocolate cravings around their period, for example, but researchers haven’t found any correlations between hormone levels and cravings.

    The best way to break a craving cycle is to replace it with a fresh new alternative routine that works. (Example: Arrive home. Greet dog enthusiastically. Chew sugarless gum. Walk dog for 10 minutes.) Commit to your new routine for 30 days before you decide if it’s working. By then, it will have truly hardened into a habit, making it seem downright easy. The more you can interrupt your craving pattern and reprogram your mind and body with a new pattern, the greater your odds of success.
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • ARose Reisman, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    When you get a craving, it doesn't work to deprive yourself, which will often result in bingeing. Try to find a healthier substitute for the food you crave. For instance, if you think you need a chocolate bar, try something made with cocoa instead. Cocoa has little saturated fat, few calories and no cholesterol. Chocolate milk is a great choice. If that doesn't do the trick, then have a small amount of the food you're craving. This will lead to better self-control.
  • ALisa Lynn, Fitness, answered
    Sunshine stimulates our brains to produce plenty of serotonin, but during the short days of fall and winter, our brains need extra stimulation to produce enough serotonin. This may be why we crave things like bread, crackers, cereal and sweets, especially chocolate, because they stimulate serotonin production. Here are six ways to boost your serotonin and stop cravings.
    • Place six drops of oxytocin under your tongue within one hour of waking to help combat the stress hormones that are making you crave the wrong foods. You will feel better right away and may even want to exercise. Oxytocin blunts the secretion of the stress hormone cortisol and that will help melt fat around your waist.
    • Exercise every day to boost your endorphins and support serotonin production. Your workouts will help you stay grounded because you will feel better instantly! The best workouts are not slow weightlifting workouts but metabolic-boosting workouts. And you don't have to kill yourself either!
    • Eat your greens. Meeting your body’s nutrient requirements is the secret to your success. Aim for six servings of vegetables per day. They are full of fiber and are unlimited free foods that will help stop cravings and keep you feeling full so you don’t overeat on the wrong things!
    • Drink yourself happy. No—not alcohol. A high-quality whey protein shake with at least 1,000 milligrams of glutamine can boost your brain power and help you feel better fast without stimulants. This is one of the most important life-changing steps that everyone can do every day to not only help you lose weight but to keep it off. The glutamine in the shake can help ease depression. Look for 24 grams of protein, no fat, low sugar and low carbs.
    • Meditate or pray daily. Cultivate a habit of prayer or meditation every day to quiet your mind and reduce stress. If you’re having trouble, grab a good book to read each day. Even five minutes can make a big difference. Almost always, we neglect this crucial step because we are busy or too tired, and it’s the most important step to our health and well-being.
    • Eat chocolate every day. Choose chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. Dark chocolate also boosts the feel-good hormones, and you’re less likely to overeat dark chocolate because it’s not full of sugar like milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and gives us a feeling of doing something good for ourselves.
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AKeri Gans, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    Cravings tend to hit less when you eat regular balanced meals, including breakfast and healthy snacks. Exercise may also help control cravings. Research has shown that regular exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins into the body, which boost your mood and reduce stress.
    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • ARobert DeVito, Administrator, answered

    Managing food cravings is a simple but difficult process. In my experience, I have seen that most often when an individual makes an emotional judgment and gives into eating when they are not hungry it is often do to temporarily losing sight of their goal(s) and/or continuation of habits.

    Try these tips for controlling food cravings:

    • Develop a mantra. Something like: "I feed my body and my needs, not my taste buds."
    • Ask yourself questions like: "Why am I going to eat this? Is it because I actually want it and need it or am I reactively responding to an immediate desire?"
    • Keep focused on your goal. Post it in sight at work and at home and refer to it often.
    • Drink a glass of water to slow the decision making process down. Water can make you feel a little fuller AND it will give you something to do while deciding if you are actually going to give in to your cravings.

    To your health,
    Robert

    Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
  • AGrant Cooper, Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, answered
    You can't completely change your diet overnight, and making slower changes will provide more lasting results. If you are truly committed, there is no rush, because your goal is a lifelong change in eating habits. It's also okay to have occasional setbacks. In fact, I would encourage you to listen to your cravings. If they become overwhelming, consider eating a small amount of the food you crave. As your eating pattern improves, when you do give in to your cravings, you will find that you relish the abandoned food more from an emotional and nostalgic association than because of its taste. Think about whether it's really as good as you remember; chances are that it won't be. Gradually leave the fatty, salty, sugary foods behind in favor of a healthier diet.
  • AXimena Jimenez, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

    These are some strategies to manage food cravings:

    • If you notice that you eat when you are bored; find another activity such as carpentry, taking a walk or calling a friend
    • Keep tempting foods out of your fridge and kitchen
    • Plan ahead, keep nutritious foods around the house such as: grapes, apples, popcorn, whole grain crackers and yogurt
    • Chew some gum; a recent studies shows that chewing gum may reduce your food cravings

     

  • ALaura Katleman-Prue, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered
    The only way to stop wanting unhealthy food is to stop eating it. Here's why:
    • When you stop eating the food and decide that it's out of your life forever -- not just for a day or a week or a month -- you stop thinking about it.
    • When you stop thinking about it, you stop desiring it.
    We're used to thinking, "Gosh, if I stop eating this food that I love, I'll feel deprived and want it all the more." This is true if you cut out pleasure foods temporarily, but if you decide that those foods are no longer in your life, you stop thinking about them. And if you stop thinking about them, you stop craving them. If you stop craving them, you stop eating them, and -- wonder of wonders -- you lose weight! It takes thought to create desire. No thought, no desire. It's just that simple.
  • ADiscovery Health answered
    Angela Taylor Q and A: Food Obsessions
    Therapist Angela Taylor tackles a commonly asked question, "How can I stop obsessing about food"?


  • Managing food cravings is a simple but difficult process. In my experience, I have seen that most often when an individual makes an emotional judgment and gives into eating when they are not hungry it is often do to temporarily losing sight of their goal(s) and/or continuation of habits.

    Try these tips for controlling food cravings:

    • Develop a mantra. Something like: "I feed my body and my needs, not my taste buds."
    • Ask yourself questions like: "Why am I going to eat this? Is it because I actually want it and need it or am I reactively responding to an immediate desire?"
    • Keep focused on your goal. Post it in sight at work and at home and refer to it often.
    • Drink a glass of water to slow the decision making process down. Water can make you feel a little fuller AND it will give you something to do while deciding if you are actually going to give in to your cravings.

    Yours in health,
    Robert

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How do we acquire food cravings?