Cravings. We all face them in different ways. Some have a standing date with the refrigerator every night at 2 a.m., others grab a quick, unhealthy snack on the go when they think no one is watching.
Food compulsions are serious issues for many people, and they often have nothing to do with hunger or an actual desire to eat. Indulging in cravings is often not even a particularly enjoyable activity, either—especially since the act is often accompanied by a feeling of loneliness or social isolation.
Here’s the good news: Food cravers are not alone. Millions, perhaps even billions, of people across the world suffer from the ill effects of cravings every day. And we rarely crave good-for-us foods like vegetables or fruit. We crave sweet foods and salty foods and even salty-sweet foods. Not all cravings are self-destructive, but if they have become part of your regular routine, you may have a problem.
So, how can you manage your cravings without going over the edge? It’s all about having a plan.
Change Your Focus
From office work to working out, it’s important to keep your mind focused on the tasks at hand—not the next time you can escape to the vending machines.
Create a schedule to keep yourself busy. It’s okay to take 15-minute breaks every now and then, too. In fact, those breaks are encouraged. They help boost your productivity, because you’re not stuck sitting at your desk for hours on end, staring longingly at the clock, praying for your lunch break to get here faster.
What will you do when those cravings hit? Take a walk. Toss some exercise into your daily routine. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes each week for moderate exercise. But bear in mind that exercise alone won’t reduce or get rid of your cravings. You also need to adjust your eating habits.
Eat Every Three Hours
Yes, you read that right. Starving yourself is harmful to your body for many reasons. Your body burns muscle and stores fat when forced into starvation mode. Keep your metabolism in check—eat every three hours.
Introduced by Jorge Cruise, the Three-Hour Diet allows you to eat up to five times a day. You should have breakfast shortly after you wake up, and enjoy small portions of food every three hours following breakfast. You should also avoid eating anything for three hours before bedtime. When you eat and snack throughout the day, you are less likely to crave a late night snack.
Developing a meal plan can help you stick to your diet. Take some time each Sunday to map out and go grocery shopping for what you’ll need to fulfill that week’s menu.
Consider Healthier Alternatives
With the three hour diet, you don’t have to give up what you love. You can still have the occasional chocolate bar and small bowl of ice cream. But you should also consider some healthier alternatives to satisfy your craving for sweets.
Instead of reaching for the Skittles when you’re traveling through the grocery store, check to see what fruit is on sale and whip up some fruit salad at home. Your body will appreciate the natural sugars and vitamins from the fruit much more than the artificial ingredients in junk food. Who says you have to suffer from Skittles-pox just to taste the rainbow?
Dealing with your cravings isn’t always easy, but learning how to manage them properly amidst your daily routine will help you overcome those need-to-feed fixes. At Cause and Effects Fitness, we offer individualized nutrition coaching. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you with your nutritional needs.