What Your Cravings are Really Telling You

Beat the craving monsters with these tips.

Cravings are one of the biggest stumbling blocks when you’re committed to losing weight and feeling healthier. Giving in to cravings can lead to frustration that stops you from moving forward.

People experience different types of cravings, and you may not be vulnerable to all of them. The first step in learning how to beat cravings is to become more aware of the ones that trip you up as you work to lose weight. Learn what your cravings are really telling you and discover tips for how to beat cravings so you can maintain the positive change you deserve.

You’re addicted to sugar.
Sugar has some qualities that make cravings irresistible. It floods the body, causing a blood sugar spike, which is quickly followed by a crash. That crash compels the brain to seek out even more sugar to compensate for the dip in blood sugar levels.

You’re stressed.
You may be more likely to cave to cravings if you’re stressed. Why? Because the brain considers eating a “feel good” activity, so it releases “feel good” hormones, like dopamine and serotonin, when you eat.

You’re conditioned to reach for salty or fatty foods.
The typical American diet includes a lot of processed foods loaded with salt and fat—so much that your taste buds may be trained to crave the unhealthy stuff.

You’re not eating enough.
That might sound like an odd piece of advice, but it’s worth considering if you’re working to lose weight. The average woman should not eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day. Under-eating doesn’t give the body the energy it needs to maintain normal functions, kicking the body into starvation mode, which increases cravings.

You’re not sleeping enough.
Sleep plays a critical role in the regulation of hormones related to hunger. If you’re not sleeping enough, you’re more likely to overeat or snack too frequently, particularly on starchy foods.

What Your Cravings are Really Telling You

How to Beat Cravings

1. Stop cravings before they start.
Learn how to beat cravings by eating 4-6 small meals/snacks each day to keep blood sugar levels even. Stock the kitchen with healthy snacks like Caramel Pumpkin Spice Corn or Clean Eating Raspberry Oat Bars.

2. Distract yourself.
Find an activity that will keep your mind off that craving. Here are a few ways to distract yourself:

3. Wait the craving out.
Put a timer on your craving. For example, commit to yourself that you’ll wait 15 minutes before eating the food you’re craving. While you’re waiting, crank out a few Desk Push-Ups or sneak in a relaxing Back Stretch. You might be surprised to find that the craving’s kaput after a few minutes.

4. Retrain your taste buds.
Swap out processed meals for a clean-eating menu filled with minimally-processed or whole foods. Tuck away the salt shaker, too, and instead season meals with herbs and spices that add flavor without excess sodium. Start your plan for how to beat cravings with 5 Skinny Dinners to Satisfy Your Comfort Food Cravings or the 5-Day Clean-Eating Dinner Menu.

5. Get your zzz’s.
Keep hunger hormones in check naturally by investing in good-quality sleep. Relax with 3 Yoga Routines for Better Sleep and learn these 9 Tips to Get Better Sleep.

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Amy Wagner

Amy is a writer specializing in health & wellness, business, and entrepreneurship. She's a long-time martial arts teacher who has earned a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. When Amy's not writing or kicking, she's wrangling sons, reading fiction, or crushing on BBC actors.

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