The holidays are right around the corner, inevitably leading to fun family gatherings with delicious treats, meals and leftovers.
Cravings can hit at the wrong moment and cause you to eat something that may completely disrupt your healthy food routine. With quantities and accessibility of holiday goodies potentially on the rise in your kitchen over the coming weeks, today we’ll look at 10 ways you may be able to circumvent cravings and head toward the new year staying mindful of your wellness goals.
1) Increase your protein consumption.
Adding more protein can help to reduce appetite as well as prevent overeating. Eat a protein rich breakfast to reduce cravings. Eating a healthy breakfast that is rich in protein increases satiety and reduces hunger throughout the day. If your cravings strike midday, add a protein shake or protein dense snack like jerky or nuts.
2) Chew some sugar free bubble gum.
Chewing gum reduces snack cravings and decreases consumption of sweets. A recent study of men and women demonstrated that chewing sugar-free gum reduced the likelihood of eating sweet snacks compared to those who did not chew gum.
3) Spice things up a little.
Spicy food helps to negate salty food cravings. Spicy foods may cause you to eat less salt and have lower blood pressure. Spicy foods enhance your ability to taste salt, which causes you to consume less. Spicy foods, like hot peppers, promote thermogenesis which is a great way to rev up your metabolism. Thermogenesis is the process by which the body turns calories into heat to be used for energy by the body.
4) Try supplementing your diet with foods rich in probiotics.
Overall, it is well established that probiotics are great for digestive health, but did you know they may also partially control our cravings? Eating foods with probiotics can help sway food choices. The microbiota that live in our gut may actually be able to affect both our cravings and moods to get us to eat what “they” want. Prebiotics, probiotics, antibiotics, and dietary changes can manipulate the microbiome in our gut.
5) Drink more water.
The feeling of thirst is often confused with hunger. According to a study at the University of Florida, 75 percent of Americans do not drink the recommended amount of water. When you feel a craving emerging, try drinking a glass of water.
6) Remove temptation.
Try to imagine the long term consequences of giving into your cravings consistently. Will you get to your desired goal weight? How will you look in those amazing new jeans? Will your favorite dress still manage to fit? Try eliminating the foods that tempt you. Create a barrier or distance between yourself and your temptation. Not having your temptation readily available reduces the likelihood of yielding to unhealthy cravings.
7) Manage your stress levels.
Stress can oftentimes be a trigger for cravings. Not all stress is negative, but prolonged periods of stress can lead to serious health conditions and increase the obesity related hormones like cortisol. It has also been well established in scientific literature that increased consumption of sugary and salty foods is linked to prolonged periods of stress.
8) Plan your meals.
Planning and preparing your meals ahead of time limits variability and keeps you accountable. Lack of certain nutrients in our diet can cause cravings, so thoughtfully planning your meals to include specific vitamins and nutrients may help decrease your desire to make bad food choices.
9) Get some shut eye.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend sleeping for seven – nine hours per night. Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night may help maintain normal levels of hunger and satiety hormones.
10) Drink green tea.
Sure, cravings can be unavoidable at times, but having ways to circumvent them helps to give you an added advantage. Which tips do you plan to implement to help combat your holiday cravings?
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. “Chewing Gum Reduces Snack Cravings and Decreases Consumption of Sweet Snacks.” 20 April 2009.
Hypertension. “Enjoyment of Spicy Flavor Enhances Central Salty-Taste Perception and Reduces Salt Intake and Blood Pressure.” 31 October 2017.
Journal of Clinical Investigation. “The gut connectome: making sense of what you eat.” 2 March 2015.
Lauren Horton, PhD.
Dr. Lauren Horton is passionate about moving patient care forward through research. As a Division Research Director, she is at the forefront of groundbreaking studies and innovation. Her dedication to advancing knowledge and solving complex problems has led to her pivotal role in shaping the future of patient care in the healthcare industry.
Dr. Horton leverages her deep insights and knack for communicating complex ideas in an accessible way to educate and engage a global audience. In her spare time, she is an avid advocate for health and wellness, dedicated to making a positive impact on the world. She believes that knowledge is a powerful tool for change and strives to empower others with the information and inspiration needed to effect meaningful transformation.
Dr. Horton loves to help improve the quality of life of those around her. She has helped men and women from all over the country discover how small steps each day can lead to huge strides towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Horton holds a BS in biology from Rust College, a MS in health economics and outcomes research from Xavier University and a PhD in biomedical science from Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.