Food cravings can make it difficult to meet your weight-loss goals, so it is important to keep them under control.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to reduce cravings and keep your calorie intake in check.
Here, learn about five strategies that can help you to eliminate cravings for good.
Add Some Variety to Your Diet
If you have been eating the same few foods every day, switching things up could reduce your cravings.
In a 2000 study in Physiology & Behavior, young adult participants were given a plain liquid diet, and they reported more food cravings when on the liquid diet than they did during a baseline period.(1)
In particular, participants craved foods that were different from the liquid diet. Feeling bored with your diet could, therefore, lead you to give in to cravings.
Add more variety to your meals to keep yourself satisfied.
Make Time for Exercise
Adding exercise to your routine could reduce the temptation for sweet snacks.
In a 2015 study in the journal PLoS ONE, overweight subjects either walked briskly for 15 minutes or served in a control group.(2)
Afterward, they completed a stressful psychological test and were required to handle sugary snacks.
Study results showed that walking reduced the participants’ cravings for the snacks.
While cravings did increase after touching the snacks and being exposed to the stressful testing, exercise weakened this effect.
So, if you find yourself craving ice cream after dinner, head outside for a walk around the block instead of giving in to your desire for a sugary treat.
Get Enough Sleep
Skimping on sleep can make you more susceptible to cravings.
In a study in a 2014 publication of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, subjects spent 10 to 12 hours per night in bed for two nights, and then they were restricted to four hours of sleep per night for five nights.(3)
During the period of sleep deprivation, study participants took in significantly more calories and fat, and they increased their consumption of condiments, sweets, and salty snacks.
Be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep every night, so you are not tempted to overeat.
Increase Your Protein Intake
Adding some protein to your diet could help you to manage food cravings.
In 2014, researchers for the European Journal of Nutrition reviewed 20 different studies and found that subjects who were given high-protein meals had significantly higher feelings of fullness than did those who were given meals with normal protein levels.(4)
Include more high-protein foods, such as nuts, chicken, and eggs, in your diet to leave yourself feeling more satiated; you might find that you aren’t even hungry enough to give in to junk food cravings.
Once a craving hits, distracting your brain can help you to forget about it.
In a study set for publication in a January 2016 edition of the journal Appetite, researchers induced cravings among study participants by allowing them to make a food selection from a menu.(5)
One group of participants served as a control, and another group was distracted from their cravings by a game of Tetris.
Study results indicated that the distraction successfully reduced food cravings among participants who were especially sensitive to them.
If a craving for an unhealthy, high-calorie snack strikes, grab a crossword puzzle or a book to take your mind off of it.
Distracting yourself can stop a food craving in its tracks and prevent you from indulging in high-calorie treats.
You can use the other strategies discussed here, such as mixing up your diet and getting more sleep, to make it even easier to resist temptations.
If you incorporate these tricks into your daily routine, you might discover that weight loss isn’t such a challenge after all.
Further reading: Why Am I Craving Pineapple
Researches and references