Cravings for certain foods, usually high-calorie, high-sugar foods, are not the same as honest hunger. Eating snacks when you are not hungry may be mindless eating without thinking about the reason, or it could be emotional eating to change the way you feel. It is usually not at all satisfying, adds unwanted calories, and spoils your appetite for healthy food. Here are seven easy ways to stop the urge to snack when you are not really hungry.
1. Stay Hydrated
Thirst is often mistaken for food cravings. Before you run to the vending machine, have a full glass of water, and wait for five minutes. The cravings may subside, but, in any case, you have kept yourself hydrated and have given yourself a chance to decide against eating a bag of potato chips.
2. Increase Your Protein Intake
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), people who ate a high-protein breakfast significantly reduced their cravings for unhealthy snacks. This was true for teenage girls and overweight men. It also reduced their urge to snack at night.
3. Try Chewing Gum
Chewing gum isn’t for everyone. For some people, it stops cravings immediately and for other people, it increases the desire for more food. You can try it and see how it affects you because if it works, it is a great way to stop cravings.
4. Minimize Stress
The NIH also says that stress can raise your blood levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that causes you to gain belly fat. If you are one of the many women who start to crave sugary food when in stressful situations, you should be aware of this tendency and find healthy ways to reduce stress in your life.
5. Get Enough Sleep
According to the NIH, sleep deprivation disrupts the natural appetite and leads to strong cravings of unhealthy food. These studies show that people who don’t get enough sleep daily are 55 percent more likely to be obese.
6. Only Grocery Shop after a Meal
One time it is easy to snack when you are not hungry is in the grocery store. With all the foods that you love at your fingertips, you may start to buy unhealthy snack food that you would rather not keep in your cupboard.
7. Plan and Eat Regular Meals
Planning meals for a day or a week is a good way to make sure you get the proper nutrients. When you plan, you can choose the foods you love and look forward to them. This may help stop the urge for a tasty snack when you don’t need it.
When you understand why you have urges for snacks when you are not hungry, you have a much better chance to push the urges aside, to choose to drink water or to eat something healthy. This is called mindful eating, and it may help you develop an awareness of emotions, cravings and other lifestyle habits.