Everyone, regardless of how disciplined they are with their diet, will from time to time fall victim to cravings for one food item or another. For people trying to lose weight, these cravings are even more of a challenge to deal with than for someone simply maintaining their weight. Regardless of whether or not you are trying to lose weight however, cravings can be the one thing that makes you break your normal dietary habits and overdo the calories you usually try to do without.
Most people know that getting some kind of exercise and eating healthy, low-fat foods is the key to maintaining good health, but with the hectic and hurried schedules so many people have these days, sometimes eating right and getting exercise can be easier said than done. The best way to insure against dietary disaster when you do get those cravings throughout the day is to plan ahead and use a little strategy.
For one thing, try to plan 5 to 6 small meals with one to be eaten around every 3 hours of the day and make it a point not to miss any of them. It takes an average of 2 hours for the human body to digest a meal, so by the time you start to feel a craving coming on, it is almost time for your next meal anyway.
Make it a point to drink plenty of water. Quite often, feelings of hunger between meals are really your body trying to signal thirst. By keeping a bottle of water with you all day and making it a point to take constant sips throughout the day, you will keep hydrated, feel better, and eliminate one common cause for cravings to happen.
When you are at home, always try to keep some fresh fruit on hand. If you are hit with a craving, fruit is a better choice than cake or chips. Also, make a fat-free dip and cut up some fresh veggies like carrots and celery and keep them in the fridge. This will give you another quick and healthy snack that you can just grab and eat during a craving.
Never go to a party, a meeting, or any event where there will be food available on an empty stomach. This will set you right up to over eat when you get there. Always eat a small meal or at least eat a good, healthy snack before you go as this will help to stop cravings from hitting you while there.
If there are certain snack foods that you really enjoy, don’t try to completely cut them out. You will only overindulge in them when you can’t control the urge to have them later. Plan these snacks into your day, and just make them snacks that you have once in a while and in moderate amounts when you do.
Remember that just because certain food items are fat-free does not mean they are calorie free. When turning to fat free snacks, be careful of how many calories they contain and adjust your portions accordingly. It is very easy to assume fat-free is ‘safe’ and go way overboard on them.
The next time you are hit with cravings, remember these little guidelines and you will be able to deal with them without ruining your efforts to maintain healthy eating habits.
Stay Healthy & Strong,
Steven Wong – CPT, Pn1
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