Most people who diet have to fight the battle of food cravings, those sudden urges to eat everything in the house — or restaurant, or movie theater. There are ways to fight these cravings and move past them without wrecking your diet, but you may need to try out a few methods to find the ones that work best for you. Cravings often occur when a diet is too restrictive, so make sure that you're getting the right balance of nutrients in your food. Finding ways to distract yourself, such as through exercise or meditation, can also help you handle the desire for unhealthy foods.
Many people put themselves on diets that are too restrictive, which means cravings can signify actual calorie deprivation or real hunger. Consult a good nutritionist about the right combination of diet and exercise that will help you lose weight without feeling hungry constantly. You are also likely to suffer from cravings more if you don't eat regularly. Any good diet should stress the importance of three protein and complex carbohydrate rich meals a day or, alternately, the same foods prepared in smaller amounts for six small meals.
Food cravings can also be a result of dehydration. Virtually every known diet, and all medical professionals, recommend adequate fluid intake. You should aim to drink at least eight 8 ounce (0.24 liters) glasses of water a day. When you feel that food craving hit, hit back by drinking a large glass of water first.
You can address some cravings by eating, but stay way from the things with high calorie content or low nutritional value. Instead, munch on carrots or other vegetables, apple slices, strawberries, 1 ounce (28.35 grams) of nuts, preferably dry roasted and unsalted, or white meat skinless chicken. Stock the refrigerator with snacks that pack a nutritional punch, but won't significantly increase your calorie load for the day. While you're stocking up on healthy things, get rid of those temptation foods that are just begging to be eaten; it is much easier to beat a craving when you know you don't have immediate access to high calorie, low nutrition value foods.
There are plenty of other tips for sticking to a diet and beating food cravings. Consider a cup of unsweetened but heavily aromatic tea; ginger, mint, and the many fruit teas are excellent choices. The urge to eat may arise out of less stimulation to the senses, so another suggestion is to take a bath or try some aromatherapy with your favorite calming or invigorating scents.
Respond to a craving with light exercise. Take the time to do a few yoga poses, or walk straight out the front door and keep walking for ten minutes. Run in place, vacuum the floor, or clean out a closet.
Try to shift your focus from wanting food to something completely different. Pick up your knitting needles or engage yourself in any hobby that will help keep you from thinking about a craving. Avoid watching television, since studies show that looking at pictures of food can make you feel hungry.
Some people find meditation or prayer extremely helpful in beating food cravings. Don't underestimate the power of prayer for calming the mind. Recovering addicts all over the world say the famous Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) "Serenity Prayer," whenever they feel cravings to drink or use. This can help when you're hit with an unbelievable food craving too, since you are eliciting the help of a higher power in your battle to become healthier.
Many of us feel deprived on diets, and that deprivation can make us crave food more than we normally would. It is important to build in treats to indulge in from time to time. If you really love chocolate cake, let yourself have one piece once a week, and take the time to savor and enjoy it. People who love chips and salsa should have them once in a while. Allowing the occasional treat can reduce emotional feelings of deprivation, and help lessen urges.
When a food craving hits, don't beat yourself up about it, and if you do cave in, don't let that be an excuse for ending your diet. We all slip, make mistakes, and want things that we probably shouldn't have. Negativity and giving up won't help you in the end. Committing to healthy eating and exercise most of the time is a great way to live, so even if you slip, get "back on the horse" and recommit.