We all know that December is the month of endless pig-out sessions because of all the parties, reunions, and get-togethers happening around. But just because it’s the holiday season doesn’t mean that you should let yourself go and give in to everything that your tummy desires. If you do, all those months of eating right and living a healthy lifestyle will just go down the drain–and you’ll be back to square one. Cravings can be such irresistible beasts but you have the power to fight back. Here are some ways to control those tempting urges:
1. Wait it out.
Whenever a craving hits, pause for a second and slowly count to 10 instead of simply giving in to the urge. More often than not, the urge will just pass you by and you won't have to satiate it. You can also practice "urge-surfing," a tried-and-tested way of dealing with food craving thoughts. Instead of suppressing or acting on a craving, you simply acknowledge it and let yourself be okay with feeling or thinking it. Research shows that accepting your urges (but not acting on them) enables you to resist them later on.
2. Visualize a fit, healthy and sexy you.
If you find yourself day dreaming of food, shift your thoughts to images of a healthy you instead. Imagine yourself sporting your favorite crop top or sexiest dress during a barkada reunion (and getting compliments for it), instead of fantasizing about the latest dessert place in town. After a while, your cravings will subside because your brain is focused on something else and has already forgotten the thought of food.
3. Indulge–but in portions or small quantities.
Once in a while, it’s okay to give in to your cravings–but set some limits. Instead of munching on a big pack of chips or digging into a big tub ice cream, give yourself just a small serving. This way, you can satisfy your cravings but avoid overindulging.
4. Stick to an eating schedule.
If you find yourself snacking mindlessly throughout the day, resolve to eat only at allotted meal and snack times. A set eating schedule can help curb your cravings by keeping your appetite in check and signaling to your body when it's the time to eat. It also ensures that you don't go on long hours without food, which can cause binge eating and indiscriminate snacking.
5. Combine treats with something healthy.
Sometimes the key to controlling cravings is striking a balance. Instead of stuffing your plate with just treats, pick a healthy food item to go with it. Eat your chips with freshly-made tomato salsa; fulfill a chocolate craving by partnering it with fruits or nuts, and so on. You can also balance out an indulgent treat by eating something nutritious and filling later on. This way, you've satisfied the urge but also looked out for your health.
6. Go cold turkey.
Although this method requires a ton of self-discipline, many people swear that going cold turkey really works. This simply means that you cut out all the unhealthy treats from your life–stat. The initial 48 hours are usually the hardest because you'll feel some intense withdrawal symptoms. But afterwards, you'll find that you'll have less desire for the craving and you don't really miss it that much.
7. Learn how to deal with stress.
Do you find yourself reaching out for sugary treats or binge eating fast food when there’s a huge deadline at work? Stress is notorious for inducing food cravings so pay attention to what your body feels whenever you’re under pressure. If comfort-eating is your default coping mechanism, find a healthier alternative like meditation, working out, or talking to a trusted friend. All of these can help relieve stress but without the added downside of adding pounds to your hips.
8. Eat protein-rich foods.
According to Roberta Anding, MD, RS, spokesperson of the American Dietetic Association, "Protein helps to control blood sugar patterns and can help prevent food cravings." So make sure to include lean proteins in your meals like eggs, fish, low-fat cheese, or skinless chicken to curb your food urges. Plus, proteins help you feel fuller for longer so you won’t be reaching for those chips anytime soon.
9. Drink a glass of water.
Sometimes, what we think are food cravings can just be thirst. So wash off those urges by simply drinking a glass of water. Not only will it refresh you, but it will also make you feel a bit fuller and curb your desire to eat. Dehydration can also make you crave salty foods, so make sure that you drink enough water throughout the day to keep you hydrated.
10. Limit your access to treats.
Research shows that removing unhealthy food or making them harder to access decreases consumption. So to avoid temptation, remove sweets, junk food and other go-to treats from your pantry or kitchen cabinet. If you don’t want to throw them away yet, put them in hard-to-reach areas that are out of sight. If you don't see it, you won't eat it.
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