craving killers: 5 simple ways to combat cravings
Happy Friday Fit Fam!
I hope you have all had an incredible week working toward your goals!
I've been getting quite a few questions on Instagram about how to stop cravings in their tracks, so I've compiled a list of methods that I use personally that have helped me along my fitness journey. So if you're someone who needs a bit of help when it comes to overindulging or sticking to clean foods, then sit back, relax, grab some (air popped) popcorn, and enjoy the post!
We've all been there. We've decided that we're going to eat completely clean and get our fitness on track. You sit down with your plate of grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and green beans and then it hits you: a warm, chocolate chip cookie would taste really good right now. You know that the cookie doesn't align with your goals, but you can't shake the growing feeling that you HAVE to have a cookie. You imagine how it would smell, how it would taste, and there just so happens to be a plate of cookies on your kitchen counter! So you cave. You eat the cookie, maybe you eat 2 or 3 cookies, and now you feel like you've fallen off track (see my post here about how to get back on track if you've fallen off!)
Wouldn't it be nice if you never had that initial desire to eat the cookie in the first place? This whole fitness thing would be so much easier if we didn't feel drawn to foods that we know won't help us. Well, the good news is, I have experienced this exact scenario so many times when I was first starting out in fitness. Lowkey...it was almost every day lol (and it was usually Domino's Pizza😛). But as I've continued down my fitness journey, I have discovered some super effective methods that made it much easier to stay on track with nutrition and that have stopped my cravings right in their tracks. So without further ado, I present to you...
5 simple ways to combat cravings
Method #1: Pop in a Piece of *sugarfree* Gum
When to Use: Most of the fruity flavored gums can act as a great substitute for a sweet treat! If you're really craving something sweet, before you indulge, try chewing a piece of bubblegum (or any other flavored gum of your choice!). If you're someone who is constantly surrounded by tempting treats in your workplace or at events, it's helpful to keep a pack of gum near you at all times so that it's easily accessible.
Why It Works: The gum will provide your taste buds with the sweet taste your brain is craving without sacrificing your clean eating. Since gum contains little to no sugar, it won't have the same effect on your body as say, a cupcake. So now that you've satisfied this sweet craving, it will make it much easier to say no to the cupcake and continue with your clean eats!
What I Do: I seriously think that gum is SO UNDERRATED!! I cannot tell you how many times a piece of gum has stopped me from eating some ice cream or candy! I'm guilty of chewing like 5 pieces of gum in a single sitting, but hey, if it stops me from eating the ice cream sundae, I'm all for it. I usually keep Trident Bubblegum (or tic tacs!) on me, especially when I know I'm going somewhere and I don't want to indulge. This is my number one quick fix for sweet cravings!
Method #2: Drink Some Water
When to Use: So this method is a lot less exciting than the gum, but it can actually be super effective for when you are idle or bored! If you find yourself sitting around the house (or office) contemplating if you should eat that last slice of cake or pizza, try drinking a full glass of water before you decide to go for it.
Why It Works: Most of the time when we thing we are hungry or craving something, we are actually just thirsty, bored, or a combination of both. Drinking a glass of water can instantly stop a craving in its tracks if the source was from thirst, so why not give it a try before you decide to satisfy the craving? Water can also make you feel fuller, so if your craving stems from a general hunger feeling, water can be effective in subsiding that as well.
What I Do: Low-key I hate water lol, but this method does work! I use this usually when I'm sitting in my dorm room doing work and start craving Domino's Pizza. I'll drink a big glass of water, let that sit for a bit, and then reassess how I'm feeling. If the craving subsides, then I'm good! If it's still lingering, I'll grab a healthier alternative that I have near in my room to take away any residual hunger that could be causing the craving.
Method #3: Plan a Cheat Meal
When to Use: This method is one of my favorites! I think you should use this method ALL THE TIME throughout your fitness journey. I recommend planning a cheat meal once a week.
Why It Works: Cheat meals are a beautiful thing! Having a cheat meal once a week can be so helpful when fighting off cravings, because you know there is a set time in the week when you will be able to satisfy your craving. Think about it: it is much easier to say no to a food in the present when you know for certain you can have it later in the week. If your cheat meal is designated for Saturday, but you're really craving a cookie on Thursday, it can help tremendously to know that you can eat the cookie on Saturday as a part of your cheat meal.
What I Do: Cheat meals are my best friend. I have one cheat meal on Saturday. Every Saturday. And it's during this time that I eat everything that I've been craving throughout the week. Hot cheetos, pizza, candy. You name it, I'm eating it in a meal! Knowing throughout the week that I have this meal coming makes it SO EASY to say no to junk food! Because why do I need it on Thursday when I can literally just eat it on Saturday? AND I don't have to feel bad about it because it's a designated day that's part of my fitness plan!
I've also found that having a cheat meal once a week tends to reset my eating habits. Once I get into a routine of clean eating throughout the week followed by a cheat meal, my body starts getting used to (and starts really enjoying!) all of the clean foods I'm feeding it. So when the cheat meal that I've been craving finally rolls around, I indulge super heavy and it's great, except afterwards I feel awful. And that's a reset button for me to start eating well again! After my cheat meal, I'm literally like: ugh I can never eat a bag of cheetos again! I feel so baaad. And then I restart my healthy eating. Of course that wears off and I start having some cravings again, but those come just in time for my cheat meal! It's a beautiful cycle!
Method #4: Make Your Healthy Meals Taste GOOD
When to Use: I also recommend using this method ALL THE TIME. This method helps with all types of cravings: sweet, salty, savory, etc. Good tasting healthy food goes a long way!
Why It Works: Eating bland meals is no fun for anyone. And if healthy eating is seen as bland and tasteless, then of course the yummy junk food will have more appeal. If you can use clean ingredients, and make you healthy meals taste (and look) delicious, then the very healthy meals you're eating can serve directly as craving killers! Season your food! Spices have no calories and can make a world of difference when it comes to the flavors you taste. If your daily, healthy meals are good, you are more likely to be satisfied and less likely to crave other unhealthy foods.
What I Do: I absolutely live by this method! I always plate my food super nice so that it looks more appealing and I season EVERYTHING. There is no need to be eating bland food!! Healthy food can and does taste delicious! I also love creating healthy alternatives of my favorite "not-so-healthy" foods. For example, I absolutely love tacos from Taco Bell!! We all know their tacos are suspect, so instead of indulging in Taco Bell whenever I'm craving tacos, I'll make my own at home. Sometimes I'll make a taco salad so that I'm not frying a tortilla in oil and I'll add a bunch of veggies so that it's a well rounded meal. I do this with pizzas, sandwiches, cookies. Honestly, anything that's unhealthy, I've re-made into a healthier version! You can check out some of these recipes under my food tab here.
Method #5: Don't Keep Foods You Crave in Your Home
When to Use: This is also a universal method that can be used to combat your strongest cravings.
Why It Works: This is pretty simple: if you're laying in bed at 10pm craving cookies, but you have no cookies in your home, then you're probably not going to be able to feed your craving with cookies. Having foods you know you crave in your house only reinforces your craving cycle. It is much harder to give into a craving when you have to exert some effort! If every time you craved a cookie you had to drive 10 minutes to the store, you'd likely not give into that craving. Keep some healthy alternatives around the house (for sweets: I have sugar-free chocolate + gum) that can help satisfy you in these moments.
What I Do: This method has worked well for me personally, but I think the hardest part is when you're actually IN the store deciding whether or not you should buy something you know you love. There have been many times when I've been staring at a bag of Hot Cheetos, knowing that if I have them around I will crave them and eat them, but it's still hard for me to not put them in my cart. A simple fix for this: don't shop when you're hungry. This goes back to what was discussed in method 2 about cravings being more prevalent when you're just hungry in general! Shop on a full stomach so that you can think clearly and avoid foods you know will not help you reach your goals. When I don't have my favorite foods that I crave in my home, I don't eat them! It's really that simple!
Alrighty! There you have it! 5 ways to help you crush your cravings so you can stay on track with your fitness goals! Let me know if you have any questions about this post by sending me a DM on Instagram. I'll also be doing some polls on my Instagram story every now and then to ask you all what you'd like my next blog post to be! So look out for that!
Have an incredible weekend Fit Fam! Rest and recover so you can SMASH your goals next week!💪🏽