Snacking: How to Control Cravings?

Christine Zalnieraite

2020 Jun 10

4 min read

Snacking can be an unexpectedly treacherous foe, lurking in the shadows with a greater threat than binge eating or overindulging. Its stealth lies in its ability to morph into an unconscious and uncontrollable habit, catching us off guard. We often fail to recognize how stress, anxiety, and depression can compel us to seek solace in comfort food. If only our cravings leaned towards nutritious options like vegetables, fruits, or seeds. Alas, that’s far from reality. Instead, our desires gravitate towards the allure of salty, crunchy snacks and sugary delights.

Ways to control your food cravings

  1. Opt for smaller dishes or healthier alternatives. Using smaller bowls or plates can help control portion sizes and prevent overeating. Consider replacing unhealthy snacks with nutritious options.
  2. Eliminate junk food from your home. Avoid buying and storing unhealthy snacks in your cabinets. If possible, ask your loved ones to keep their snacks away from you as well.
  3. Slow down and savor your snacks. Take the time to enjoy the flavors and textures without rushing. Avoid distractions like phones or TV while snacking. Eating slowly allows your body to properly digest and recognize fullness, leading to greater satisfaction.
  4. Assess your hunger levels. Before reaching for a snack, ask yourself if you are genuinely hungry or if boredom is triggering the urge. Distinguishing between true hunger and emotional cravings can help prevent unnecessary snacking.
  5. Plan your meals and prepare wholesome foods. Creating a meal plan and prepping nutritious meals in advance can reduce the temptation to snack aimlessly. Knowing what and when you will eat gives you better control over your snacking habits.
  6. Prioritize hydration and adequate sleep. Dehydration and lack of sleep can often lead to stress-eating or mindless snacking. Stay properly hydrated by opting for water instead of snacks when you feel the urge.
  7. Clean out your kitchen shelves and restock them with healthy ingredients. Conduct a “spring cleaning” for your kitchen by removing unhealthy snacks and replacing them with nutritious options. Take the time to organize and evaluate the items in your pantry.
  8. Utilize ziplock bags for portion control. Measure out the desired amount of snacks using ziplock bags before leaving home. This simple technique makes it easier to manage your intake and avoid overindulging while on the go.

Additional Strategies to Control Cravings

  1. Distract yourself with healthier alternatives. When cravings strike, find alternative activities to engage in instead of turning to food. Take a brisk walk, call a friend, or engage in a hobby you enjoy. By redirecting your focus, you can effectively distract yourself from the craving and reduce its intensity.
  2. Practice mindful eating. Paying attention to your eating experience can help you gain better control over your cravings. Before indulging in a snack, take a moment to assess your hunger levels and evaluate whether you genuinely need the food or if it’s a result of emotional triggers. When you do choose to eat, do so mindfully by savoring each bite, noticing the flavors and textures, and being fully present in the moment.
  3. Manage stress levels. Stress is often a significant contributor to food cravings. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practicing meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in relaxation techniques. By addressing stress effectively, you can reduce the frequency and intensity of cravings.
  4. Get support from others. Reach out to friends, family, or a support group who understand your goals and can provide encouragement and accountability. Sharing your challenges and successes with others can make the journey of controlling cravings more manageable and less isolating.
  5. Create a supportive environment. Surround yourself with a positive and healthy environment that encourages your efforts to control cravings. This includes stocking your pantry and refrigerator with nutritious foods, keeping tempting snacks out of sight, and setting up your living space to promote mindful eating and healthy habits.
  6. Celebrate small victories. Recognize and celebrate every achievement, no matter how small, in your journey to control cravings. Reward yourself with non-food rewards like treating yourself to a massage, buying a new book, or engaging in activities that bring you joy.

Remember, controlling cravings is a process that takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and embrace the journey towards a healthier relationship with food. By implementing these strategies consistently, you can gain greater control over your cravings and make positive, sustainable changes to your eating habits.

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In conclusion, snacking can become an unconscious habit driven by stress, anxiety, and depression. Controlling food cravings requires mindful strategies such as opting for smaller dishes, eliminating junk food from home, savoring snacks, assessing hunger levels, planning meals, prioritizing hydration and sleep, organizing the kitchen with healthier options, and using portion control techniques like ziplock bags. By implementing these techniques, we can regain control over our snacking habits and make healthier choices.

Written by

Christine Zalnieraite

Christine is a registered and licensed dietitian (RD, LD) with more than eight years of professional experience. Christine is an expert in dietetics that includes human nutrition and the regulation of the proper individual diet. She alters patient's nutrition based on their medical condition and individual needs. Education: Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Food Safety and two Bachelors of Science - Bachelor in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, and Human Nutrition and Food Safety. Also, she continues to deepen her knowledge in Ph.D. studies of Medical Science and Dietetics.

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