How to Stop Food Cravings in Five Easy Steps
You are minding your own business, not even particularly hungry, when suddenly the enticing smell of baked cookies and cupcakes wafts your way. Nothing else matters. You must have it. Any thoughts about how to stop a food craving is out the window… That cookie is calling your name and you can think of nothing that would make you happier than to have it, right here, right now. Next thing you know, there are crumbs on your chin, chocolate on your fingers and a guilty feeling deep in the pit of your stomach. What just happened? You have been attacked by a food craving. Nearly 90% of women experience these kind of strong food cravings.
Next thing you know, there are crumbs on your chin, chocolate on your fingers and a guilty feeling deep in the pit of your stomach.
Now, having a cookie or cupcake once in awhile is not something to be concerned about, but when ‘once in a while’ becomes a daily, irresistible occurrence, it is time to learn how to stop food cravings so you can get yourself back in control. It would be nice to think that will power is all you need, but its not so easy. These cravings are driven by the brain chemical dopamine and your brain seeks that rush over and over. If you want to prevent weight gain, you need a game plan to side step food craving triggers. Knowing your personal triggers will help get to the root cause of the problem and can set you up for success.
When you are struck by a craving ask yourself first why you are feeling this way.
– Are you under a lot of stress?
– Have you been skipping meals or under eating in general?
– Are you getting in enough water?
– Are you simply bored?
– Have you been getting the quality sleep you need?
– Are you stuck in a rut?
– Do you really just want a cookie?
By identifying your true feelings, you can work to separate those feelings from the food itself. Planning ahead is the key to being in control. Of course, situations will arise that are difficult to plan for – we are women after all – multi-tasking is what we do. But the truth is, if you step back and look at your weeks, most all of us have at least some patterns we can count on. Women that have the most success with their fitness goals understand their own personal patterns and take charge. You can’t be in control of everything, but you can set yourself up for success.
How to Stop Food Cravings | Julie’s Five Easy Steps:
1. Set a schedule and stick to it.
You would not cancel an important meeting with your boss and you always make sure your kids are to practice on time, so why is it so easy to let your own workouts play second fiddle? Block out your workout time and stick to it. I find it best to look at your week ahead of time and note when you will be working out on your calendar. You already have an idea of when might be best for you.. maybe first thing in the morning before your family is up… maybe in the afternoon as a lunch break… even in the evening once you know that your daily obligations will be complete. Whenever you choose, make your time just as important as you make everyone elses.
2. Water, Stress and Sleep.
Nothing lowers your will power like being sleep deprived, stressed and dehydrated. Don’t believe me? Think about that life changing time period when many women experience unwanted weight gain for the first time – college. Crappy food is plentiful, sleep is a second thought, stress is super high and water… well, water is often just forgotten in lieu of other more dehydrating beverages. Water and sleep are two things that you should not compromise on. Active women need at least 1 gallon of water spread throughout the day to really stay hydrated and 7+ hours of quality sleep per night. Skimp on those and don’t be surprised if you struggle with food cravings.
3. Did I mention stress???
Sure we all have some stress in our lives, but those times that stress is at its highest are when we are most vulnerable to food cravings. You might not be able to control the amount of stress you are under, but you can help your body handle it better. Exercise is a proven stress buster and can help you feel better immediately. Yoga, mediation and stretching keep your mind centered and your body lithe when surrounded by a sea of rough waters. Ideally, you want to fit in an hour yoga class twice a week. No time? No worries. Studies show that just 10 mins of deep breathing and meditation lowers stress levels significantly. Next time you have a food craving either head for the gym or find a dark room, sit down and focus on taking slow, thoughtful breaths. I can almost feel your blood pressure dropping!
Bonus: Looking for a way to be more spiritually connected? Praying during these mini-breaks or simply repeating a positive, self affirming phrase can bring you closer to God giving you twice the stress busting benefits!
4. Stop cravings in their tracks.
Try the “stop technique”: Every time the food you crave pops into your head, think, Stop! Then, picture a healthy image (say, you lean and fit). After a while, your brain will dismiss the food image and the craving will subside. One of my clients did this four or five times a day, and within 2 weeks, she stopped turning to sweets every night after dinner.
Bonus: Shift your focus. Researchers found that distracting your brain really does work. When a food craving hits, divert your attention to something visual not related to food, like typing an email.
5. Know when to give in.
While I want you to know how to stop food cravings, it is important to know that if you constantly deprive yourself of the foods your brain is craving, you will build them up to an irresistible crescendo where you end up binging on them. Instead choose a time when you will allow yourself to have that cookie. But make it on your terms. Not the cookies. Plan for a time when you are well rested, not famished, completely hydrated and feeling good all over. That is the time where you and the cookie can be friends. You will savor the subtle flavors, enjoy the richness, knowing that one or two is enough to satisfy you.
That is the time where you and the cookie can be friends. You will savor the subtle flavors, enjoy the richness, knowing that one or two is enough to satisfy you.
6. (BONUS) Give yourself a healthy treat that doesn’t skimp on taste!
Back in 2002/2003 Rick and I tried just about every protein supplement on the market. We settled in when we found Beverly and what was their flagship protein at the time Ultra Size. We made a decision after finding Beverly International that we would NEVER try to pass off poor tasting health foods for a “treat”. That said, UMP Protein and UMP Protein Bars have been craving killers due to their versatility and ability to kick the unhealthy urges directly in the teeth.
Whether I’m making one of my favorite quick and tasty UMP recipes like brownies (see below), or I’m savoring an UMP Protein Bar with my morning espresso…there ARE substitutes that stack up to the often over-rated sweet treats. Give them a try. They’re certainly going to leave you satisfied and guilt free.
So, how do I stop craving for junk food in the evening?
If you find that it is junk food that you are craving, especially in the evening, you want to first understand what is triggering them such as your emotional state or those evening habits like watching TV. Of course, it is helpful to stay hydrated to prevent mistaking thirst for hunger and eat a balanced dinner with a variety of nutrients to reducing cravings. This is not a time to skimp on the protein!
What I find though is that you tend to eat junk food out of habit or convenience more than anything else. Plan ahead and have evening snacks available that you enjoy. Here are some of my favorites:
Healthy Nighttime Snack Substitutions | How to Stop Food Cravings at Night
|Full Sugar Brownies
|UMP Protein Brownies
|Other Common Junk Foods
- Potato Chips: Replace with Edamame.
- Pretzels: Substitute with Carrot Sticks.
- Ice Cream: Opt for Greek Yogurt instead.
- Full Sugar & Fat Brownie: You have to try my UMP Protein Brownies as a healthier alternative. See the recipe below…
- Other Common Junk Foods: Consider Mixed Nuts for a nutritious snack.
Research shows that these substitutions are great ways to answer the question of how to stop food cravings at night and provide a healthier option while still satisfying your cravings.
How to Stop Food Cravings Recipe: UMP Protein Brownies
Who says you can’t have a delicious dessert style snack AND eat healthy. With this recipe you’ll
be able to indulge in a Brownie Treat.
Save it for a special holiday when everyone else decides to have birthday cake or pumpkin pie.
1 cup oat flour
4 egg whites
2 scoops UMP Vanilla Or Chocolate
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tbsp unsweetened baking cocoa
4 oz unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup all natural peanut butter
4 tbsp non fat Greek yogurt
Add all ingredients in large mixing bowl, and mix.
Spray 8×8 Pyrex dish with Pam.
Place batter in an Pyrex dish and bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out
Makes 8 Bars.