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  1. Top 5 Ways to Fight Food Cravings and make Healthy Choices


    Girl at FridgeFood cravings are just part of human nature. Research has shown that food cravings are both psychological and biological; our complex human brains are very much involved with food cravings. Often a craving is your body's way of telling you it's missing or needing a particular nutrient. For example cravings for fatty foods is your body's way of telling you it needs calcium. But the more insidious food cravings -- those overwhelming temptations that seem to come from nowhere, wherein resistance is futile -- that's what we're talking about here. Understanding how to combat those food cravings in favor of healthier choices, and realizing that you won't always be able to, is the key to a healthy and happy life.

    Use these five tricks alone and/or in combination to fight food cravings and make healthy choices.

    #1: Identify

    Knowing what it is that sets you off (chocolate donuts, greasy fries, cold ice cream?) is the first step to making better choices. Understanding which particular foods trigger a binge impulse is necessary to control your behavior. There may be some items that you like to eat such as chocolate chip cookies, and just one cookie satisfies, then it's fine to have them around. But if there is no way you can have only a few M&Ms, it's either the giant gallon bag (they sell them at Costco!) or bust, then you will have to avoid those foods all together. It's not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of being smart.

    #2: Substitute

    No matter if it's sweet or salty, crunchy or smooth, or all of the above, you can often find a healthy surrogate for your craving. For example, if you must have something sweet, pass over the candy and instead go for raisins, dried figs or banana chips (steer clear of the ones that are drenched in added sugar). If salt is what your body is calling out for, pickles are a great choice. You get crunchy and salty, and next to no calories all in one bite. You need cool and creamy? Low-fat Greek yogurt is the way to go. It's much lower in sugar, fat and calories than other low-fat yogurts and you can always throw in some blueberries for added flavor. Once you find a healthy substitute that works, stock up; you want to make sure you have what you need because you never know when a craving may strike.

    #3: Delay

    We've all had those feelings come over us where we feel like if we don't get [insert craving of choice] in the next five seconds we may chew off our own arm. While these feelings are real and intense they are usually fleeting. If you can train yourself to wait, even for 5-10 minutes, the craving will pass. So next time you feel a craving coming on, take a walk, pick up the phone and call a friend, brush your teeth, take a shower, anything you can do for 10 minutes or so to distract yourself. Chances are after a while the desire will fade and your resolve will strengthen. If that doesn't work, try tip number four: drink water.

    #4 Drink

    Did you know that feelings of thirst and hunger are very easily confused? It is often because the thirst mechanism in our bodies is weak and we confuse the feeling for hunger. So the next time you're hit with a food craving, before you give in to it, drink a giant glass of water. Then wait about fifteen minutes. Chances are the water will give your body what it needs and the craving will go away. If it doesn't, you'll need to move on to tip number five: given in (a little).

    #5 Eat!

    So you've tried the first four steps with no success (you wouldn't be reading this if you had). Well, here's the good news, you can indulge in your craving. But the caveat here is, enjoy your craving in moderation, choose quality over quantity. If you really want chocolate and nothing else will do, eat some high quality dark chocolate. Take small bites and savor it. And don't feel guilty.

    The most important thing to remember is, cravings are normal. Of course it's better to fill your days consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains and the like, but the reality is, some days a McDonald's hamburger is the only thing you want to eat. The key to a healthy and happy life is making good choices most of the time and knowing that one bad choice doesn't ruin anything. It just gives you an opportunity to make a better choice next time.

    Author: Sue Ridgeway

    Weight Loss Tips
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