5 Ways to stop cravings for unhealthy foods
It's a familiar situation for many: You ate a nutritious breakfast, packed a salad and ate a healthy lunch. You're eating better, cutting out the junk and everything is going well ... until late in the afternoon.
Around 3 p.m. is when the cravings always hit. When your body starts to crave carbs and sugar, and those snacks in the break room are irresistible. You start to convince yourself that one candy bar isn't really going to hurt anything.
Almost everyone has experienced these hunger pangs. The trick is, knowing how to handle them. These five tips will show you some of the best ways to manage and beat these cravings.
1. Are you hungry or thirsty? When hunger first hits, take a step back to ask yourself if you need food or just a few ounces of water. People often mistake thirst for hunger, and the solution here might be that you need to stay hydrated throughout the day. Keep a water bottle at your desk and refill it often.
2. Get the right kind of protein. Experts frequently recommend increasing your protein intake in order to stay full, but not just any protein will do; you need to be sure you're getting the right kind of protein. For instance, casein protein found in cottage cheese, such as Muuna cottage cheese, allows your body to digest more slowly and keeps you full longer. With flavors like strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, peach, mango, black cherry, raspberry, vanilla and plain, satisfying your hunger has never tasted better.
3. Add some spice to your life. Research has shown that spices such as red pepper can help curb hunger. Other spices such as turmeric, curry powder, ginger and chili powder may have a similar effect. So be generous with your spices. You'll have an additional kick to your meal and skip the late-afternoon hunger pangs.
4. The foods you crave won't satisfy. It's tempting to think a frosted scone or piece of toast is your ticket to a full stomach. In fact, foods made up of refined carbohydrates and a lot of sugar metabolize quickly, leaving you hungry and craving more food. Instead, reach for foods that are high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
5. It's all in your mind. A lot of times our mind plays tricks on us. Those late-afternoon hunger cravings might not be the work of an empty stomach, but rather, a brain that's been programmed to tell you to grab a sugary snack at a certain time. The feeling will pass and eventually you'll break out of the habit.
If your hunger pangs persist, be sure to have high-protein snacks on hand such as jerky, veggies and cottage cheese dip, hard boiled eggs, or nuts.