By: Dr. Dennis Nguyen, DPT
Have you found yourself at home or at work constantly snacking? Do you notice that you always seem to crave food throughout the day? Oftentimes, we try to satisfy our cravings, which can lead to health problems in the future. Excessive or overeating daily is an unhealthy habit and can cause a host of issues such as high cholesterol, heart disease, or type 2 diabetes. If you constantly find yourself craving food and never feeling satisfied, then here are some tips to help you curb your food cravings.
Eat nutrient-dense meals
Not all foods are made the same. Some foods lack nutrient density and do not keep you feeling full for long. Foods that are full of sugar can spike insulin levels, lead to a crash, and feelings of fatigue later. This will trick your body into thinking it needs more energy from food, and you will begin to feel hungry sooner. Instead, try eating meals that are packed with protein. Protein has been shown to reduce cravings and contributes to feeling full and satisfied for a longer period. Foods dense in protein include meats, fish, eggs, and even dairy. Try to include more protein dense foods in your meals in order to decrease your cravings later.
Drink more water
If you feel a craving coming on, try drinking water. Your stomach will feel full from the liquid intake and your craving will go away. Furthermore, staying hydrated is important for overall health. So increasing your water intake throughout the day will lead to a healthier lifestyle anyways.
Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating is a form of meditation, not a diet. Mindful eating allows you to be more aware of your body’s senses. It keeps you aware and present of your surroundings. Mindful eating has been shown to decrease cravings because after mindfully eating a meal, your body is more aware of how full it is. This will keep you satiated for longer and you will find yourself not thinking about your next meal or snack. To practice mindful eating, you must remove yourself from distractions. Turn off the television and keep your phone away. Slow down the pace of your eating. Chew slowly and acknowledge all the tastes and smells you are experiencing. Try to be aware of the food as it enters your stomach. This will make you more aware of when you are full and content, which will help you to not overeat as well. You will be more conscious of feeling satiated and satisfied and that will keep your cravings away. Mindful eating helps you recognize the difference between actual physical hunger and food cravings.
Recognize your patterns
Oftentimes when we snack between meals, it is not because we are feeling hungry, but rather because of other factors. Do you find yourself eating certain foods while watching your favorite shows? Or perhaps you always grab some candy when you pass by the vending machine at work. Become aware of any triggers that lead to you wanting to eat and do your best to avoid them. Often, boredom leads to food cravings, so by taking up a new hobby this can help curb constant snacking. Going out for a walk can help as well. Try to distance yourself from your cravings. Do not leave tasty snacks around the house that will tempt you to snack. Try not to “reward” yourself with food after a long day. Increased stress can lead to overeating. If you feel yourself more stressed out, practice healthy coping strategies such as meditation or exercise to reduce stress. This can help curb your food cravings. By paying attention to what leads to cravings, this will help you understand what you need to do to avoid them.
Brush your teeth
Lastly, you can try brushing your teeth when you feel a craving coming on. Once you feel your mouth is fresh and clean, you will most likely not want to brush it again after snacking. If you do not have a toothbrush handy, such as when you are at work, then you can use mouth wash instead. This will give you the same fresh feeling and hopefully lead to decreased cravings.