How To Deal With Hunger Cravings While Dieting

Hunger cravings are the biggest killer to diet willpower, craving sweet, salty, or fatty foods is a natural impulse or is it? It is totally normal to have weak moments in a diet when you begin to really crave salty, sweet, crunchy, or fatty foods. Yet these are often the very foods that undermine your efforts to lose weight. After all, when is the last time you complained about craving cauliflower?

Man looking hungry

What Causes Hunger Cravings?

Food cravings can have little to do with hunger and in fact are more linked to addiction as cravings have both biological and psychological components. The most common foods we crave are sugar, carbohydrates, chocolate, salt and, for some, cheese. If your hunger pangs do not go away when you consume food and drink, seek medical attention immediately. The pain may be caused by some gastrointestinal disorder that is in the early stages, and such disorders can be isolated and treated if caught early.

Here are some examples of causes of hunger cravings:

Too Much Leptin 

The leptin hormone is produced in our fat tissue acting as a monitor to stimulate appetite and to let you know when you are full. The problem occurs when the leptin hormone is not working properly and it stimulates appetite unnecessarily which can occur when someone has too much body fat or when you eat high sugar foods. Whatever the reason, constant surges of leptin can lead to leptin resistance, which creates a feedback loop and further dulls your ability to perceive your real appetite. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to keep a normal balance of leptin in your body and, therefore, reduce your chances of being swept away by cravings.

Endorphins & Food Addiction

Endorphins make you feel happy and relaxed. They are released when eating sugary foods, and even salt increases the production of endorphins. So when we eat these foods and experience this feeling, we want more—similar to the way drug users get addicted to narcotics. Another recent study looking at the addictive qualities of foods found that highly processed foods that are filled with fat and sugar can cause addictive eating because of their rapid rate of absorption. So the more you can avoid packaged and processed foods, the more control you’ll have over your food choices.

Emotional Triggers

Sadness, boredom, stress, poor self-esteem, negative body image are just a few of the emotional triggers for hunger cravings. But since food cravings are often fleeting and disappear within an hour, choosing to eat a healthier food or opting for a mood-boosting activity can satisfy you till the craving passes. Eating is your primary emotional coping mechanism—when your first impulse is to open the refrigerator whenever you’re stressed, upset, angry, lonely, exhausted, or bored—you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the real feeling or problem is never addressed. Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good in the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. And you often feel worse than you did before because of the unnecessary calories you’ve just consumed.

Ways To Stop Hunger Cravings

Follow these strategies to stop cravings in their tracks:

Make Sure That You’re Getting Enough Sleep

Loss of sleep increases hunger during the day, which leads to cravings. The right amount of sleep could stop cravings.

Eat A Healthy Breakfast

They breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason, it kicks starts your metabolism and gives you energy for the day. A breakfast featuring fiber and protein is more likely to control this cycle. Cravings are inevitable, especially when you diet. When you limit your intake of foods, you feel you want them even more. The extent of your cravings depends on how severe the changes to your eating habits.

Drink Lots Of Water Throughout Your Day

Water is an effective appetite suppressant. When your body tries telling you its hungry for a certain food, drink an 8-ounce glass of water and wait 10 minutes. Your hunger and craving should go away. Eight glasses of water a day are recommended. As noted, it can be easy to confuse hunger pangs with thirst.

Snack Strategically

Try to eat five to six small meals every three to four hours. If you do this you will keep your blood sugar levels more stable which controls your cravings for high sugar foods. Snacks that have 100 calories or less to stay in your daily calorie goal limit. We suggest fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds and low-fat dairy products to reduce hunger pangs.

Cut Out Processed Foods From Your Diet

Processed foods contain excess sugar, sodium and fat, which increase your dependence on unhealthy foods. Reducing your consumption of processed and frozen foods and increasing your intake of natural fruit sugars can reduce your cravings while dieting.

Exercise For At Least 30 Minutes Each Day

Exercise is proven to release endorphins into your bloodstream which will stop your cravings. Your mood can influence your desire to eat, and endorphins have a positive effect on your mood.

Manage Your Favorite Foods

Learning to control or manage your craving rather than think of food as forbidden. This leads to an automatic craving. The key is to allow yourself a treat once a week or every other week and to enjoy it in moderation.

Add Spice Into Your Diet

Adding spice such as ginger, turmeric, curry, chili powder, and cayenne actually signal your brain to tell you that you are full therefore stopping you from eating too much food. These plant extracts also increase metabolism.

Identify Your Food Cravings

If you know when you get the worst food cravings, why not plan your eating schedule to where you are eating most of your food during that time? May be try focus on your work or another activity during these specific moments during the day. The hunger usually goes away after a couple of hours.

Keep A Food Journal

By keeping a food journal you can potentially keep a good track of what you are eating and when you are hungry during the day. It could keep you from indulging if the thought of writing down the calorie and fat content of a steak is more painful than going without it. A food journal will also help you identify the times of day when your cravings are the strongest.

Identify Your Craving Triggers

Emotional eating is a real phenomenon. If you pay attention, you may find that your cravings are worse when you are stressed or depressed. Managing those situations will help stop cravings.

Tips For Coping With Hunger Cravings

Once you have identified when your hunger cravings bother you the most you can begin to plan a healthy alternative around them.

For example, if you tend to crave sweet treats in the afternoon, having a light yogurt and some fruit available could prevent a mad rush to the vending machine for a chocolate bar.

If you find that you tend to snack or binge eat in the evenings, try filling up with plenty of water prior.

Conclusion

Hunger cravings (food cravings) are perfectly normal and everybody gets them. However, it is important to maintain control over your own body and mind, being aware of your hunger triggers and practicing a healthy diet are essential. Remember, an intense craving for any food is often mistaken as hunger when in reality it may mean you’re dehydrated. By following the steps in this article you can be on your way to a hunger craving free life style!