You can’t get your mind off that cookie in your kitchen. You try not to think about it, but your mouth waters and knowing you’re trying not to think about it only makes you want it that much more.
We’ve all been there. Yes, even we who are registered dietitians have to employ several strategies to fight off cravings.
Here are a few things that we have done that have worked for both of us and for our clients.
1. Distract Yourself. Take a warm bath or go for a walk. Give your partner a massage. Have a cup of tea. Whatever works, just know that a craving typically takes about 10 minutes to subside and the bath (and even giving—or getting—a massage) or having a cup of hot tea will soothe your nerves and take the edge off if your craving stems from stress (ours often does!). Exercising will kick your body’s feel good endorphins into high gear so you’ll be better able to fight a craving. Plus, it never hurts to burn a few extra calories. By the time you’re done you can re-evaluate the situation and hopefully say no to whatever you were craving.
2. Try Sour or Spicy Foods. A sweet tooth craving can often be killed by sour or spicy foods. So if you’re craving that brownie, go for a large glass of lemon water first. Other good options include spicy, low-calorie seaweed snacks or steamed vegetables with hot pepper flakes. We love that this trick is so unexpected but really works.
3. Have Fruit on Hand. If you’re craving something sweet, go for a piece of fruit. For about 100 calories a serving, fruit will help to fill you with fiber and quench a sweet tooth while giving you the added bonus of vitamins and antioxidants. The trick is to be sure to have your favorite fruits on hand so as soon as the craving hits you can distract your taste buds. For us, we often dive into strawberries, but most fruits would do the trick for us.
4. Keep Portions Small. If you’re the type of person that can conquer your sweet tooth with a small portion, then good for you! Go for that food and enjoy your small portion. Our best friend’s Mom used to have one M&M when she got a sweet craving—and it worked for her!
Many people have one M&M and then they want the entire bag. So know your limits. If you know this strategy doesn’t work for you, then don’t try it.
5. If You Don’t Succeed, Try Again: Often we have to learn how our bodies respond to different strategies. It may take a little bit of trial and error, but the more you learn about what does and doesn’t work for you, the better you’ll be able to fight off cravings.
What do you do to fight a craving? What hasn’t worked for you?