After a stressful week, you’re looking forward to the weekend. You’re looking forward to hanging out with your friends and dining out. I mean, you deserve it after the long week. However, do you find yourself enjoying the meal because you’re hungry, or do you eat because you’re craving it?
Now, let’s imagine a different scenario. You come home after a stressful meeting, but you stop by your favorite burger place and get a big meal – all with fries and soda. By the time you reach home, you finished it off but still crave something more. Mind you, by this point you might not be hungry but still craving something more.
Eating because you’re hungry is one thing, but eating because you’re craving might be your worst enemy. Cravings are when you get this uncontrollable desire to eat unhealthy food aka junk food. These urges are stronger than hunger and are often borne out of stress and anxiety.
Today, we’re exploring why we crave unhealthy food when stressed and how to stop unhealthy eating habits.
Why Is Junk Food So Addictive?
Unhealthy foods aka junk foods are supposed to be addictive, to put it frankly. I mean, there is a reason why a plate of chips is more addictive (and tastier) than a bowl of salad. Junk food is processed food that is designed to attract your senses and increase your cravings.
These unhealthy foods contain artificial flavors, emulsifiers, fat, and most of all sugar, which can increase your appetite and not in a fun way. Combine the aforementioned ingredients, and you’ve got a plate of deliciousness that your taste buds can’t refuse.
Of course, with taste comes calories and little to no nutrients. Junk food is easy to consume because one; they are easy on your taste buds, and two; they provide instant gratification, increasing your dopamine.
An increase in dopamine is said to release stress, lift your mood, and make you feel happy. And dopamine can be addictive too.
While it can seem challenging to stop food cravings, here are some easy ways you can stop your unhealthy cravings and change your eating habits.
How To Stop Food Cravings?
1.Keep Junk Food Out Of Sight
“Out of sight, out of mind.” This formula may seem to work here! Next time, notice how quickly you finish a bag of potato chips when it’s in front of you. To stop food cravings, you need to keep tempting foods away.
In a study, it was found that people consumed fewer unhealthy foods when they were 20 feet away at arm’s length. So, to keep your food cravings away, keep junk food away.
2.Watch What You’re Buying
Another interesting way to stop unhealthy eating habits is to watch what you’re consuming. Eating proper meals, with proper nutrients can help lift your mood and promote the production of serotonin, so make sure you know what you’re consuming.
When buying food, check the ingredients, try to stick to the fruits and vegetables aisle, and pay attention to the products and label you buy. Avoid processed foods.
3.Drink Plenty Of Water
Before sitting down for a meal, drink plenty of water. It is believed that drinking water can make you feel full and will help avoid any cravings that you may have. Drinking water can also help you avoid mistaking dehydration for hunger.
So, every time you feel food cravings, drink a glass of water and see how fast your cravings flee. Keep this practice before every heavy meal you eat.
4.Eat More Proteins
Eating more proteins in your meals can make you feel fuller and avoid overeating. When you’re full for long hours, you won’t be reaching for those extra bags of M&Ms in your desk drawer. Here’s what all you can add to your protein meal;
Nuts and seeds
And of course, veggies
5.Substitute Cravings With A Walk
Food cravings when not hungry can be your worst enemy and while some people may understand this, some feel satisfying their food cravings as a part of their day. As soon as they enter the afternoon slump, they just need to grab one cup of coffee or a bag of chips to feel energized.
If you can relate to this, then try to curb your food cravings with a walk or any gentle afternoon physical activity. If you feel like you need to grab a muffin as a post-lunch snack, just take a 10-minute walk and see how fast that craving ends.
6.Practice Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a practice that allows you to slow down and appreciate the food you’re consuming as an experience rather than a routine. Try to be present with your food and notice the sensations and the texture as you consume your meal.
You can try this exercise;
Eat a raisin and notice its texture, size, and smell of it as you eat it. Notice how it feels in your mouth.
Slowly chew it and notice the sweetness as it explodes in your mouth.
Swallow and notice how your mouth feels or how you feel after eating it.
7.Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time
If you can, try to plan your meals ahead of time. When you know what you’ll be eating the next day or the week, you won’t feel the need to order takeout. This way you cancel out the uncertainty factor.
If you know what you’ll be eating next, you won’t feel as tempted to give in to your cravings as before.
8.Avoid Going Hungry
Another way you can stop unhealthy eating habits is to avoid going hungry. When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to experience food cravings. But when you eat your meals on time and avoid hunger, you won’t feel the need to satisfy cravings.
A good way to do this is to keep healthy snacks around you and eat them every two hours. If you are not going hungry for long hours, then you’ll feel less need to satisfy your food cravings.
9.Get Proper Sleep
One of the things we don’t realize is that our sleep can greatly affect our eating habits. One of the reasons we experience food cravings is sleep deprivation. If you’re not getting enough sleep, then you’ll have a poor appetite and stronger food cravings.
To stop food cravings instantly, it’s a good idea to get proper sleep and avoid any disruptions to your appetite hormones.
10.Don’t Go Grocery Shopping On An Empty Stomach
This is something I think we can all agree with. If you go food shopping on an empty stomach, you’re more likely to buy tempting products and unhealthy foods such as candies, chips, and other processed foods.
To stop unhealthy eating habits, another thing you need to do is stop going to the supermarket on an empty stomach. If you have to grocery shop, then do so after you’ve had a proper meal. This will prevent impulsive shopping too.
Stress can likely trigger your food craving and urges. We often find ourselves seeking comfort in our comfort food, but making food a coping mechanism can be unhealthy for your mind and body.
Changing your lifestyle to eat healthily and live healthily takes patience, time, effort, and balance. If you’re struggling to manage your lifestyle, try to take it one day at a time. Don’t rush into things. Focus on smaller goals and go from there.
With the right steps and guidance, you can stop unhealthy cravings and eating junk food. I hope this article helps you learn some of the ways you can stop food cravings. If you still need assistance, you can connect with a dietician or nutritionist to learn more about food cravings, and it affects your health and well-being.
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The post 10 Easy Ways To Stop Food Cravings When Not Hungry appeared first on Calm Sage – Your Guide to Mental and Emotional Well-being.