When it comes to food cravings, everyone gets them, and most people struggle with how to get through them.
A recent study published in Addictive Behaviours found that those who had cravings for food, coffee, alcohol, sleep, or unhealthy choices were able to reduce cravings by nearly 20% when they played a 3-minute game.
Jackie Andrade, a psychology professor at Plymouth University, states, “Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery. It is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time.” Here are 6 other helpful tips to try.
1. Go for a walk.
A study from the University of Exeter found that a 15-minute brisk walk could reduce chocolate cravings, which are the most commonly reported. The reduction in cravings should start during the walk, and last for at least 10 minutes afterward. Often this is enough to help you avoid giving in. Walking, and other forms of exercise, can alter your brain chemicals and help to regulate your cravings.
2. Think about the consequences.
Another study addressed four different thinking strategies that might help reduce cravings. The strategies were: thinking about something else, realizing that you don’t have to act on every thought, thinking about the long-term consequence of your choices, and thinking about the immediate reward and pleasure offered by indulging yourself. Results showed that those who thought about the long-term consequences of the indulgence had the best improvement when it came to reducing cravings.
3. Visualize yourself eating.
If you must give in to your cravings, take a moment to first imagine the act of eating what you are craving. When you imagine yourself eating what it is that you are craving, you can start your brain toward the point of satisfaction. Research has found that this can help reduce the amount that you indulge, since your brain will already be on its way to being satisfied.
4. Try to relax.
Many times, cravings will occur during times of stress. If you can train yourself to relax, you can reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol that floods your system when you become stressed, and often avoid giving in to the cravings that you have. Try meditating for a few moments when you are having a craving. Increased mindfulness can help reduce stress and help you resist the urge to binge.
5. Clench your fists.
When you tighten your muscles, you can increase your willpower. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research showed that those who tightened their fists, biceps, or calf muscles, or stretched out their fingers while deciding what to eat tended to select healthier choices than those who did not use these strategies. Research has shown that tightening your muscles can increase your self-control and help you avoid making unhealthy choices for a moment—might be just enough to get you through the craving!
6. Give up the guilt.
When you cut out your personal pleasure foods completely, you could end up sabotaging your own healthy eating plan. Research published in Appetite has shown that women who were forbidden to eat their favourite snack for an entire day tended to eat more of the same snack on the next day, compared with women who were not restricted. If you allow yourself a small treat occasionally, you will be more likely to be able to resist binging on the snack when you have a craving.
These 7 small tips might just help you when cravings hit. Stick to your healthy lifestyle, and make yourself more likely to make healthy choices and avoid giving in to your cravings by being mindful and using strategies that can help!