11 Ways You Can Beat Cravings for Sugar and Unhealthy Foods

Nothing antagonizes the dieter more than food cravings.

When you crave food, you experience an uncontrollable and very intense desire for some kinds of food. These desires are often stronger than hunger.

People crave various kinds of food, but in many cases, the cravings are often for junk foods with a high amount of added sugar.

Food cravings contribute to unintentional weight gain. This article will discuss 11 simple ways to beat cravings for sugar and other unhealthy foods.

Drink enough water

Many people often confuse thirst for food cravings or hunger.

If you develop an intense desire for a specific food, simply drink a large glass of water and stay calm for some minutes. You’ll notice the craving fading away. Only then will you discover that you were only just thirsty.

Also, drinking water has many health benefits. Drinking water before eating increases satiety and helps with weight loss in middle-aged and older people (123).

Increase your protein intake

Eating a protein-rich meal will reduce your appetite and prevent overeating.

Protein foods also reduce cravings and keep you satisfied for a longer time (4).

A study involving overweight teenagers found that consuming a protein-rich meal drastically reduced food craving (5).

A study involving overweight men also found that taking in a lot of protein (25% of calories) caused a 60% reduction in food cravings. Also, they had a low desire to snack at night…almost reducing by 50% (6).

Distance yourself from craving

Whenever the urge to crave comes up, try to distance yourself from it.

For instance, you can take a shower or a brisk walk. Changing your environment or your thoughts can help to stop the craving.

Nutritional research has shown that simple acts as chewing gum can reduce cravings and appetite (78).

Create a meal plan

You can create a healthy meal plan for yourself with the help of a dietitian.

By creating a meal plan, you already know your meals ahead of time, thus eliminating the uncertainty and spontaneity factor.

If you don’t have to worry about your next meal, then the likelihood of cravings is drastically reduced.

Try not to get extremely hungry

Hunger is one of the major reasons for cravings.

To stop your chances of getting extremely hungry, eat regularly, and have healthy snacks at home.

Give no chances for stress

Stress induces cravings and influences eating habits. This is most particular about women (91011).

Studies have shown that when women are stressed, they tend to eat more calories (12).

Also, stress raises the level of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol is a hormone that contributes to weight gain, especially in the abdomen area (1314).

You should reduce stress by planning, engaging in meditation, and taking things slow.

Spinach extract works fine. Take it!

Spinach extract is a supplement made from the leaves of spinach.

It delays the digestion of fat, which in turn triggers an increase in hormone levels thus reducing hunger and appetite.

Research has shown that taking between 3.7-5g of spinach extract along with a meal can drastically reduce cravings and appetite for a couple of hours (15161718).

A study involving overweight women found that 5g of spinach extract taken each day caused an 87% – 95% reduction in the cravings for high-sugar foods and chocolate (18).

Sleep well

Your hormones have a great influence on your appetite. These hormones fluctuate throughout the day, and as they fluctuate, so does your appetite.

Sleep deprivation affects hormonal fluctuations and may cause strong cravings and poor regulation of appetite (1920).

This is supported by many studies, showing that people who don’t sleep well have a higher tendency to become obese, compared to those who sleep well (21).

As such, sleeping well may be a very good way to prevent cravings.

Eat the right meals

Hunger and deficiency of important nutrients contribute to certain cravings.

As such, you should try to eat a balanced meal at mealtimes. This will furnish your body with the right nutrients and prevent you from going hungry even after eating.

If you crave a snack between meals, ensure it is a healthy one. Your snack should consist of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

Don’t go shopping hungry

No place triggers cravings for unhealthy foods more than groceries. Never go there on an empty stomach.

The grocery is filled with pretty much any food you can imagine, and these foods are usually unhealthy.

To prevent cravings at the grocery, go shopping only after you’ve eaten. Don’t go to the supermarket hungry.

Try mindful eating

Mindful eating is an act of mindfulness, or meditation when eating.

When you eat mindfully, you develop a sense of awareness about your emotions, eating habits, physical sensations, and cravings (2223).

By eating mindfully, you will be able to distinguish between physical hunger and cravings. You have better control over your response. There’s no room for impulsiveness or thoughtless actions (24).

When you eat mindfully, you are present while eating. You eat slowly and chew the food well before swallowing. You also avoid your smartphone, TV, and other distractions.

A 6-week study involving binge eaters showed that mindful eating caused a reduction in binge eating episodes (25).

Conclusion

Cravings for sugary and unhealthy foods are very common. At least 50% of people experience cravings regularly (26).

Cravings contribute to food addiction, binge eating, and weight gain (27). When you are aware of your cravings and what triggers them, you’ll find it easy to avoid them. Healthy eating and weight loss also become easier.