Food Cravings And Sugar Addiction: The Science Of Food Addiction And How To Lose Weight Naturally
What’s the number one reason that most people fall off their diet plan?
Lack of planning?
Lack of knowledge?
Lack of motivation?
The number one reason why most people fail to see the results from their fat loss program is simply due to food cravings.
You’ve likely experienced this before yourself. You’re going along on your diet plan and things are going great. You’re eating the meals you have scheduled, you’re making sure to get your workouts in, and you’re seeing the scale move downward each and every week.
Then it hits.
All day long, you dream about pizza. And as it seems, everyone around you is eating pizza too. You see pizza commercials on TV. You hear radio advertisements about pizza. And when you check the mail?
Yes, it seems the universe must be plotting against you because every single pizza house in town has decided to send you an advertisement for their latest offerings.
Pizza is on your brain 24/7.
How do you cope?
If you’re like most, you will eventually give in and eat the #$^# pizza. Perhaps not right away. You may withstand those cravings for a week or two, but sooner or later, you will give in.
Have you found yourself in this position? And after you’ve given in, do you often feel like a failure? Do you feel hopeless that you’ll ever realize success on your diet plan?
Ever wonder why these cravings come up like they do?
Check out the video below to learn a little more about cravings.
Okay, so now you know a little more about cravings, let’s get to the details you want to know.
How can you combat those cravings and realize success?
In order to combat cravings, first you need to realize there are two reasons that cravings can come on.
The Two Reasons You May Experience Food Cravings
By learning why your cravings are occurring in the first place, you’ll be in a position to better assess how to overcome them.
Physiological Food Cravings
Physiological cravings are those that come on due to factors OTHER than a sheer desire for a specific type of food.
Often with physiological cravings, the craving itself isn’t extremely specific. It’s not that you just want pasta or only want chocolate. There are a good number of foods that you would love to eat.
Pizza, chicken wings, pancakes, cookies – any of those would fit the bill fine. When your food cravings are not specific like this it could indicate that your body simply wants fuel. All of these items have one thing in common: calorie density.
If you eat any of them, your body will be met with an influx of calories, which is what it is looking for at this moment. This is one strong factor driving sugar addiction.
In other cases, your cravings may be more specific and could indicate that you could be lacking a certain nutrient in your diet. For instance, if you’re on a zero-fat diet (or as close to it as possible!), you may find that your cravings lean towards foods that are higher in fat.
Your body is trying to get this nutrient in as best as it can.
Psychological cravings come about due to something taking place in your body. It’s your body’s way of reaching out and telling you it needs something – something that you aren’t providing.
Psychological Food Cravings
The second way that cravings can come on is for psychological reasons. For many people, these are the cravings they typically experience. You want that bag of cookies because, well, you love cookies.
Or, you want that slice of pizza because all your friends are eating it and it looks so good.
These craving are tied in with emotions – boredom, loneliness, anxiety, stress, happiness, memories, or otherwise.
They can occur whether or not you are on a diet plan. With physiological cravings, these tend to be more restricted to occurring in dieting individuals only. With psychological cravings, anyone can experience them.
Unfortunately, psychological cravings are also a lot harder to break as often they are habits that are rooted way back to when you were a child or young adult and have strong emotional rooting.
All hope is not lost, however. Once you can pinpoint why your cravings are happening, you can then formulate an appropriate game plan to get past them and lose weight naturally.
Let’s get you stacked with ideas. Below you will find 30 tips and techniques for managing your food cravings. Keep in mind that some of these may not apply to you depending on the reasons why your craving is happening.
Figure that out first and then it should be obvious what strategies you would be best served by.
30 Strategies To Bust Through Food Cravings Fast
- Sip some water!
Dehydration is one of the leading causes of cravings. Often you may want to eat when really you just need a drink. Try sipping some water, waiting 10 minutes, and then see if the craving doesn’t pass.
Feel like you just can’t get another glass of water down? No problem. Add a slice of lemon or some fresh berries. It’ll add light flavor to help make it more palatable.
- Focus on meal timing.
As a golden rule, never go longer than 3-4 hours without food. If you do, you’re setting yourself up for food cravings.
When blood glucose levels plummet, as they often will when you go for too long without eating, you’ll hit a crash and be driven to consume more simple sugars.
Eat regular meals spaced out over the course of the day.
- Check your macro ratios.
If you’re constantly hungry, your macro ratios might be off. Are you eating too many carbs? Not enough fats? Is your diet balanced?
Strive for a good amount of all three nutrients – proteins, carbs, and fats. No single nutrient should make up less than 25% of your total calorie intake.
- Load up on dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber is a great craving buster, especially for those experiencing physiological cravings. Fiber helps stabilize blood glucose levels, helping prevent you from hitting that low that may cause you to crave sweets.
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are top sources of fiber in your diet.
- Use a thoughts journal.
Craving a food and know you aren’t hungry? Take some time to write down whatever emotions you are feeling.
Whether you are eating due to sadness, anxiety, stress, happiness, or loneliness, get those feelings down. Not only will this distract you long enough the craving will pass, but it’ll help make you more of these emotions that are causing you to eat.
If you see them occurring time and time again, that could indicate it might be time to get some help to overcome them.
- Turn off the TV.
All those food commercials you see on TV are doing nothing to fend off nighttime food cravings. Try another activity that does not involve the TV. Read, play a game, or get some activity happening in your bedroom.
All of these activities will take you mind away from food, rather than towards it.
- Go out for a brisk walk.
Sometimes getting your heart rate up does the trick to put those cravings behind you. Head outside for a 10 minute brisk walk next time you feel a craving coming on.
Chances are great once you get back, you’ll have forgotten all about the craving. And even if you haven’t, at least you’ll have burned 50-100 calories in the process.
- Add more fat to your diet plan.
Dietary fat is a satiety nutrient that will go a long way towards ensuring that you are not experiencing hunger and crashing blood glucose levels.
If you’re struggling, check that your intake is at least 25% of your total calorie intake or higher. Add healthy fats to your plan like avocados, salmon, nuts and nut butter, and coconut or olive oil.
All of those will help keep your blood glucose levels in check while keeping food cravings minimized.
- Pop some peppermint gum.
Having fresh breath is a great way to diminish food cravings. Plus, the chewing action may trick your brain into thinking that you’re eating.
- Perform intense strength training.
Getting your endorphins going is another great way to diminish food cravings. Intense strength training will also boost insulin sensitivity, which means you’ll experience less of a blood glucose spike when you do consume carbohydrate rich foods.
There are few things as powerful as an intense workout both in terms of boosting fat burning and combating cravings.
- Be sure that you have protein with each meal you consume.
Protein is the master nutrient for decreasing food cravings. You should ideally aim to consume at least 10 grams of protein with each and every snack or meal you eat.
This could be as simple as adding some Greek yogurt to the piece of fruit you’re eating or mixing a quality whey protein powder into that bowl of oatmeal in the morning.
- Add more flavor with herbs and spices.
Food boredom is another factor that can quickly lead you to experiencing food cravings. The simple technique to combat it?
Improve the taste of the meals you serve with plenty of fresh herbs and spices. A little will go a long way. Plus, many fresh herbs offer their own unique health benefits, so it’s a can’t-lose situation.
Try fresh dill on your fish, rosemary on your baked sweet potatoes, or some thyme next time you’re preparing chicken.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with some fruit.
Speaking of fruit, don’t discount the power it has to combat food cravings. If you have a sweet tooth that won’t let up, fruit is a great way to satisfy this.
Whether you choose an apple, some strawberries, or a banana, try this 100 calorie treat rather than going in for the 300-400 chocolate bar, slice of cake, or bag of candy you may otherwise have.
- Brush your teeth.
In line with chewing some peppermint gum, brushing your teeth is another excellent way to combat food cravings. Brush them after each meal or snack you eat and you’ll think twice about going in for seconds – or dessert a short while later.
Even if it’s the middle of the afternoon and a craving strikes, don’t discount the power brushing your teeth can have.
- Focus on high quality sleep at night.
Did you know that sleep can also influence cravings? That’s right. Lack of sleep makes you more prone to consuming sugary and fatty foods, as one study published in the Journal of Nursing Scholarship found.
There appears to be an inverse relationship between sleep and food consumption, indicating that the less you sleep, the more food you tend to eat.
- Practice meditation/deep breathing.
Stress is another factor that can bring on food cravings if you aren’t careful, so taking steps to get your stress level under control is also vital to getting control over food cravings.
As far as stress release goes, it doesn’t get better than meditation. Practicing meditation on a regular basis can also increase your overall levels of self-control, so that too may help you minimize how many food cravings you experience and give into, as was found in a study published in the Eating Behaviors journal. Researchers noted that when subjects practiced meditation, they showed a decrease in binge-like eating behaviors and this also assisted those who were eating for emotional reasons.
If you aren’t into meditation, deep breathing can provide similar benefits.
- Book up your schedule.
Boredom is another factor driving food cravings. You’re home alone with not much to do. Your mind drifts to the chocolate brownies you know are in the fridge.
You try and take your mind off them but it returns, again and again.
It’s time to get out and do something. The longer you sit inside, the more likely you are to think about food.
Start booking up your schedule. Take up a hobby. Go out with friends. Get involved in some extra-curricular activity.
Do something that will keep you busy.
- Take a quality probiotic.
Did you know that lack of good bacteria in your gut can also contribute to food cravings? It sure can.
Most people currently do not have enough healthy bacteria in their system. These bacteria have been depleted thanks to an over-reliance on antibiotics, coupled with high stress lifestyles and over-consumption of processed healthy foods.
Without these good bacteria, your body will want to feed on sugar.
An interesting study published in the BioEssays journal noted that microbes in the gastrointestinal tract exert pressure to manipulate host eating behavior to increase their fitness, often at the expense of the host. They do this by generating cravings for foods that they specialize on or foods that suppress their competitors.
So essentially, the bad bacteria living inside your body may cause you to experience food cravings that will help them continue to grow.
This is unfortunate because if you do go off giving into those sugar cravings, you are only ‘feeding the beast’, so to speak.
This is why, more than ever, it’s vital to take in a high quality probiotic. In doing so, you’ll help increase the good bacteria, which counteract the bad.
- Picture your dream body.
Sometimes all you need is a little inspiration to help you combat those emotional cravings. Stop and think about your dream body. Or better yet, put up a picture of it on your fridge.
Then each time you go to eat a food you know you shouldn’t, you can look at this and be reminded why you are working so hard.
For those who are very visually motivated, this trick can work exceptionally well to get food cravings under control.
- Add more calories back to your diet plan.
One big physiological reason why you may be experiencing food cravings is if you are not eating enough total calories.
Have a look at your intake. Are you eating at least 10 calories per pound of body weight? If not, that could be the reason you are struggling.
If you consume too few calories, it won’t matter what you do, you’ll experience hunger – and cravings.
Add a few calories back to your plan and that should take care of things.
- Supplement with digestive enzymes.
If you don’t have the proper levels of digestive enzymes in your body, you’ll struggle to break down the foods you’re eating as well as you could.
This can then lead to nutritional deficiencies and you guessed it – more cravings.
Taking a high quality digestive enzyme before each and every meal can help you side-step this problem before it gets to you.
- Change your routine.
Sometimes cravings are born out of routine. If for every night for the last six months you’ve retired to the couch to eat a small bowl of ice cream, there is a very high probability that tonight, you’ll do the exact same.
If you try and retire to the couch without your ice cream, you’ll find it too hard. Your brain has been conditioned to want that ice cream.
The best way around this?
Change your routine. Get off the couch. Even going to another room in the house for the evening can help you side-step the craving for ice cream.
If you eat out of routine, you simply have to change that routine.
- Keep unhealthy foods out of your house.
Which brings us to another very critical point if you want to combat food cravings – getting unhealthy food out of the house.
If those chips are lurking in your pantry and you know it, you are going to want to eat them. It’s that simple.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Don’t bring unhealthy food home and you won’t have to try and avoid it.
- Come up with a weekly meal plan every Sunday.
Along with not bringing unhealthy food home, make sure that you always have a game plan in place as far as your meals are concerned.
If you don’t know what you’re eating for lunch, thoughts of burgers, fries, or other unhealthy items can creep in.
Don’t give your brain the option. Know what you are eating at all times.
- Tune out all distractions at meals.
Want a trick to help boost your food satiety? Turn off all distractions. Yes, this means your smart phone!
If you typically read, watch TV, or browse your social media feeds during dinner, you aren’t going to be as psychologically satisfied from your food as you would if you just ate.
Focus on the food. The taste, the texture, the feel of it in your mouth. If you do, you’ll be more filled up after the meal and less likely to crave other foods.
- Practice volumetrics while you eat.
If your food cravings are physiological because hunger is getting to you, consider utilizing principles of volumetrics while you eat.
This means focusing on foods that contain a higher amount of total volume per 100 calories. When you eat more total volume, you’ll trick your brain into thinking it’s getting more food than it really is.
This can reduce hunger, thus lowering your cravings.
- Avoid snacking on carbs alone.
A tip for better results – never consume carbs alone. If you’re eating a snack that consists primarily only of carbs (such as a granola bar for instance), it’ll only be a matter of time before more food cravings strike.
You need protein and fats to help balance out your blood sugar and create sufficient satiety from that meal.
- Never grocery shop while hungry.
We already spoke about the importance of never keeping unhealthy foods in the home. But, in addition to that, never grocery shop while you’re hungry.
You might just find a few items you really don’t need in your cart if you do. Bring those home with you and you know the problem there.
- Strive for a 21 day elimination plan.
Still struggling with a food craving? If there’s one food you can’t seem to get out of your mind, try and convince yourself to do the absolute best job possible for 21 days.
If you can go 21 days without eating that food, it’ll get much easier from there. It takes 21 days to break a bad habit, so you can apply this to food cravings as well.
- Find smarter food replacements.
Finally, last but not least, consider smart food replacements.
Craving ice cream?
Try some Greek yogurt topped with berries.
Make you own home-made crush and top it with as many vegetables as possible along with some reduced fat cheese.
A small square of dark chocolate is a perfectly acceptable addition to any diet plan.
Come up with these smarter food replacements and you might just find it does the trick of helping you side-step your food cravings.
So there you have your master guide to combating cravings. Try one – or more (the more, the better!) of these tricks and you can put food cravings behind you.
And don’t forget to pick up a quality probiotic and digestive enzyme product. These really will make a huge difference in the level of cravings you experience.
—- > Link to Masszymes
—- > Link to P3-OM Probiotics
Landis, Andrea M., Kathy P. Parker, and Sandra B. Dunbar. “Sleep, hunger, satiety, food cravings, and caloric intake in adolescents.” Journal of Nursing Scholarship 41.2 (2009): 115-123.
Alberts, H. J. E. M., Roy Thewissen, and Loes Raes. “Dealing with problematic eating behaviour. The effects of a mindfulness-based intervention on eating behaviour, food cravings, dichotomous thinking and body image concern.” Appetite 58.3 (2012): 847-851.
Alcock, Joe, Carlo C. Maley, and C. Aktipis. “Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms.” Bioessays 36.10 (2014): 940-949.
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