When you’re trying to stick to a specific nutrition plan, food cravings can be annoying, distracting, or downright destructive. For many people, dieting is as much a mental battle as a physical one. With our 10 tips to reduce food cravings, you can reduce the chances of cravings happening – and understand how to send them packing if they do appear.
Whether you are on a nutrition plan for a lean bulk, body recomposition, or fat loss, here’s our best advice on reducing problematic food cravings so you can reach your goal faster.
1. KNOW YOUR TRIGGER FOODS
Ask any competitive bodybuilder about food cravings and they will be able to fire off a top 10 list of trigger foods – those highly-palatable treats that are hard to say no to (and even harder to forget!) Get one step ahead of your cravings by knowing what sets you off. Is it sweet or savoury foods? Frozen desserts or salty crisps? Breakfast cereal or chocolate rice cakes? Everyone’s got something that triggers off cravings. Know yours – and then simply don’t have them in the house.
2. PREP AND PLAN IN ADVANCE
Plan your meals and start doing food prep twice a week. This is a great routine to get into regardless of your nutrition plan. Keep lean protein and vegetables in the fridge. Fill your freezer with portioned out amounts of macro-friendly meals. Ensure you’ve got a Smart Bar in your gym bag and a tub of Diet Whey Lean MRP in your cupboard. By prepping your food in advance, you will always have healthy, on-plan food to grab and go no matter how busy you are or tired you get.
3. REDUCE DECISION FATIGUE
Never fall into the trap of choosing meals or buying food when you are tired or stressed. Make life easier for yourself and you are more likely to win the diet battle. Remove decisions about what, when, and how much to eat: prep food in advance, have a plan, and don’t buy things on a whim.
4. CHANGE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
We all have triggers that spark off a craving. Don’t be surprised if yours is a food ad on a billboard, a fast-food jingle on the radio, or overhearing colleagues talking about cake. You can’t control other people, but you can control your own environment. Remove tempting foods from your home, desk, and car. If you must have them at home, keep them in opaque containers in cupboards (never open or on the kitchen worktops).
5. DON’T GET STARTED
There might be some people in the world who can have half a biscuit and put the rest away, but we haven’t met any. The best strategy is to not tempt cravings. Don’t get started on hyper-palatable foods. There’s no such thing as just a taste, nibble, or bite. It’s not worth wrecking your diet for that.
6. MIND YOUR EMOTIONS
Cravings are rarely about the food itself. They are more likely to crop up when you’re tired, stressed, upset, or bored. Next time you experience a food craving, stop and sit quietly, asking yourself what you’re really feeling. If you’re exhausted, gain energy from sleep rather than from food. If you’re bored, get out of the house or hit the gym. Tackle the feeling, don’t feed it.
7. THE HIGH-VOLUME APPROACH
Create high-volume foods to trick your brain (and stretch receptors) into thinking you are eating a lot. Think salads, stir fries, berries, sugar-free jelly, oats or high protein, low calorie shakes such like our delicious Diet Whey. Its thick consistency will keep you fuller for longer all the while satisfying your sweet tooth. Bulk meals out with low-calorie green vegetables and leafy greens.
8. STAY HYDRATED
It’s true what they say – we often mistake hunger for thirst. So before you give in to a food craving, have some water (or some refreshing Intra BCAA) to see if that tackles the issue.
9. CLEAR YOUR SOCIAL FEED
Your Instagram feed might be a sneaky source of triggers for your food cravings. Do yourself a favour – when you are dieting, don’t subject yourself to torturous food photos and cheat-meal videos. They’ll still be there after you’ve reached your goal. For now, make life easier and clear your feed.
10. REMEMBER YOUR GOAL
The final tip is simple but powerful. Whenever you feel tempted to eat off your plan, remember your goal. You wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t important to you. Think back to why you started this nutrition plan. What do you want to change? How will life be different when you succeed? Tap into those feelings of strength and pride, and keep going.