- Identify and eliminate suspected food allergens — paying special attention to gluten (wheat, rye, oats, etc.) and milk products.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Avoid stimulants like caffeinated drinks, cigarettes, and hunger in your low blood sugar. For many of us, the mid-afternoon cravings we feel are merely our body’s way of telling us it has been too long since lunch and we actually need to eat. A piece of fruit, yogurt, or a handful of nuts can get the blood sugar levels back up and keep us from reaching for the no-no snacks we think we’re craving, according to Wilborn.
Emotions play a big part in food cravings, too, Wilborn says. “When we’re stressed, anxious, frustrated, lonely … all those feelings can trigger our cravings.” She adds that we may have memories of how good certain foods made us feel when we were younger.
Sensory triggers, like smells and visual cues, can also set off cravings, says Wilborn. If you walk by the pizza stand on your trip through the mall, chances are you’re going to start salivating.
How to Cope
If you’re not physically Exercise.
But allow yourself some moments of weakness, too. “Give in now and then,” Wilborn says. “It’s really not healthy to be so rigid.”
Jennifer Grana, a registered dietitian with the Dr. Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease in Pittsburgh, agrees that if there is no medical reason for you to avoid your favorite snacks, you should cut yourself some slack. “If you’re reaching for a bag of chips only now and then, that’s OK.” As long as 80% of your food intake is good for you, you can play with that other 20%, she says.
Think of your favorite foods as a reward, she says — a small treat after you’ve finished your exercise for the day, perhaps. “Don’t think of a food craving as a negative,” she says. “For most people, anything is OK in moderation.”