Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need food. A craving is a strong desire for a specific food. Cravings can come on due to emotions and/or environmental triggers. How do you tell the difference between hunger and a craving? A craving comes from the mind, while hunger comes from the body.
Physical indicators can help you realize you are hungry and not just having a craving.
- Stomach “grumbling”/ hunger pangs
- A feeling of emptiness in your stomach
- Low energy
- Feeling “hangry” aka irritable and crank due to hunger
- Light-headedness or shakiness
Is there a way to prevent cravings? Some of the tips below may help you prevent cravings.
- Eat on a schedule + Don’t skip meals
This helps prevent swings in your appetite, so you don’t get overly hungry. It also may reduce the likelihood you’ll overeat, especially in the evening, which is when most people over indulge.
- Plan balanced meals and snacks
- Eat on a small plate that includes foods of mostly nonstarchy vegetables, a portion of protein and a portion of starch. For snacks, you can do the same or aim for protein filled snacks like Greek yogurt or carrots with hummus.
- Out of Sight out of Mind
- Leaving ice cream that you love in the freezer can tempt you. A candy stash in your office desk drawer can tempt you. Scrolling through your social media and seeing images of foods which are not part of your healthy eating plan can tempt you. Cravings are made in the mind. Don’t put those tempting foods in your mind. Out of sight out of mind. Instead fill those scenarios with healthy options, to keep the healthy foods in mind.
- Stay hydrated
- It may be thirst you’re experiencing, rather than hunger. Good old water will satisfy the urge. Or choose some flavored waters to jazz it up.
Inadequate sleep can trigger cravings. So try to get to bed early. If your experiencing night time cravings, it’s the quickest way to shut it down. Sip some herbal chamomile tea or just get to bed instead!
- If you eat when you are bored, then it’s time to find a new hobby other than eating. Try a workout class like yoga or listen to a new podcast or audiobook.
- Enlist support
- Is there a way to manage cravings?
- Frequent support groups for help from others dealing with similar challenges. Seek a therapist for dealing with emotional or stress eating.
When you are hungry and about to sit down for a meal or snack, be mindful.
- Eat slowly and taste each bite
- Think about the aroma, texture, flavor, etc. of your food
- Eat without distraction (No watching TV; just eating)
- Once you begin to feel full, stop eating.
- What you’re really craving… is reaching your goals!!! Write them down and read them to yourself when the unhealthy craving hits.