Avoid Pigging Out: How to Conquer Food Cravings

STACK Expert Kait Fortunato offers advice on how to deal with food cravings.

At this time of year, many of my clients are attempting to cleanse, diet or embark on a clean-eating program. Although their intentions are good, I'm afraid they often end up doing more harm than good for their health and wellbeing.

Every diet starts with a negative mindset. You're doing something wrong and need to stop. So you are already setting yourself up for failure. Also, diets can take a toll on your metabolism and your relationship with food. You tend to get in a restrictive mentality, causing you to crave food for physiological and psychological reasons.

Here's why:

Low Blood Sugars

If you're on a fad diet that leaves out entire food groups, there's a good chance you will experience low blood sugars, which make cravings unbearable. If you eliminate carbohydrates, you will likely crave them later in the day. And avoiding protein and fat can leave you unsatisfied and cause your blood sugars to spike.

Lack of Variety

Diets are guilty of forcing you to eat the same things every day, leaving little room for variety or eating the foods you enjoy. This can cause you to crave textures and tastes that you may not have even thought about until you couldn't have them anymore.

Underlying Stress or Emotional Issue

You might think going on a diet will solve your food and weight problems, but to be honest, diets often intensify these issues. Stress or emotional eating can get worse when you are being restrictive and avoiding food, rather than working through food challenges with a support team (e.g., a registered dietitian and therapist).

What Can You Do?

Don't diet! Instead, plan your meals with a balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat, and fit your food cravings into your meals and snacks. If you crave chocolate, chocolate chip whole grain pancakes with eggs would be a perfect breakfast, or a chocolate smoothie and piece of toast. Want potato chips with lunch? Maybe do an open-faced sandwich and have a serving of chips on the side. It's important to think about what you want to eat at each meal and how to make it work. Check out the video player above to learn how to effectively incorporate healthy snacks into your daily meal routine.

Strive for variety and don't eating the same foods every day, so your taste buds can be entertained and satisfied. Don't be afraid of using real butter or real flour if that's what you like. Just be mindful of your portions and taste and savor each bite.

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