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Tips to Conquer Cravings

Losing an extra 15-20 pounds can be tough. The standard line is to exercise, eat correctly and don't eat in between meals. For many, the toughest part of that is not eating in between meals. That's why you need simple ways to deal with cravings whenever they come up. Food cravings often make or break your success with weight loss. To help you out, we are collecting tips to help you conquer your cravings. Here are seven to get you started:

1. Catch your cravings early.

If you catch your cravings early, you have more control over them. So, when do cravings start? A craving starts with a stimulus. This could be a situation in which you see or smell tempting food, or by just thinking of something that you would like to eat. The moment you catch a craving coming on, you can start to put the tips below into use. The earlier you recognize a craving, the better chance you have to conquer it. After a while, you'll learn to recognize the situations in which craving occur.

2. Avoid being hungry.

If you find yourself getting hungry between meals, it is easier to go with it than to deny your hunger. Since you know that you are going to get the munchies, you can plan ahead with nutritious snacks. When you have something ready to eat that is good for you, it is easier to avoid making those impulse choices that add pounds, so plan ahead.

3. Drink plenty of water.

It is easy to mistake dehydration for hunger or a craving for something else. Sometimes all you need is just a glass of water and your craving will disappear. Drinking water has other benefits too - even when you are truly hungry, the water will help make you feel fuller without adding any calories to your diet, and you will not need to eat as much later. In addition, increasing your intake of water is recommended while on most diet pills. Drinking two or more cups of water before a meal will make you feel full quicker so you eat less.

This was tested in a randomized, controlled clinical trial at Virginia Tech University. Researchers compared weight loss among dieters who drink water before meals with those who do not. Over a 3-month period dieters who drank 2 cups of water BEFORE meals had a 44% increase in weight loss, compared with those who didn't.

4. Distract your taste buds.

After drinking your water, if you find that your craving still does not go away and you can't stop thinking about eating, you can distract your craving by using your sense of smell.

Try using a strong mouth mint, gargling or brushing your teeth. You could also put a dab of perfume/cologne or strong smelling ointment under your nose. Now remember as many times as you can where you smelled that sent before.

This works by getting your mind off eating and on something else. After a while, you'll find the craving is gone, and before you know it, it's time for your next meal.

5. Ride out a craving

Believe it or not, with some cravings, you can simply wait it out. A friend of ours says that she uses procrastination to put it off till later. When she recognizes a craving, she thinks about three things that she has been putting off till later. Then she picks just one thing to do before giving in to the craving. Most of the time the craving is gone by the time she gets done with that chore.

There are lots of ways to play this waiting game. You can take a walk, play a game, or concentrate on a work project. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that the craving subsides in less than 20 minutes.

If you still want something 20 minutes later then you are probably truly hungry. By giving yourself time to pause before giving in, you may find the craving will disappear altogether. This can also help you distinguish between a craving and real hunger.

6. Don't fool yourself

If you REALLY want to have a chocolate chip cookie, you know that a substitute is not going to do the trick. So, what should you do? There is no point trying to fool yourself but making a decision to go for the "bad" choice just this once does not mean that you are completely off your diet. All that work had NOT gone to waste. That is a myth. If you slip up, it is like falling down. You get back up again. Just forgive yourself and get back on your diet, and keep working at it.

Some of the newest research we have read makes us think that a part-time diet would be more successful in the long run. In fact, we are ready to go out on a limb here and create a new diet. It's called "the AskDocWeb Part-Time Diet" and it works like this; On Monday, Wednesday and Friday you get to eat anything you want as long as you drink 2 cups of water before meals. The rest of the week you follow whatever diet has worked best for you in the past. Giving yourself these frequent breaks makes it easier to follow even the toughest of diets.

7. Give in to your craving

Give in to your craving BUT, only just a little. This is the most dangerous way to handle a craving. When you give in to the craving, you often lose some control of how much you eat too. Does that sound familiar?

When you decide to eat something to satisfy your cravings, how do you avoid overdoing it? How do you eat only an amount that seems reasonable and appropriate? Try this.

You need to make a distinction that separates the serving container from the storage container. These need to be two different containers or dishes. That container you bought at the store is the storage container. Eating from that container encourages you to eat the whole thing. Start using serving dishes. Take out a serving and put the rest away. This will go a long way in helping you set a limit when you do give in.

If you find yourself finishing an entire carton of ice cream or a whole bag of chips in one sitting, then remember this page for next time. Decide now, what dish you will use to serve this food next time.

7. Be Prepared for Cravings

You know that cravings are going to occur no mater what you do so be prepared with plenty of healthy snacks. Make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables available. I love baby carrots.


Subj: Know your cravings
Date: 8/6/2008
Know your cravings...'do I want something sweet, soft, crunchy, salty...' Eating a fleshy mango gives you the chewiness and exotic sweetness that is so healthy and filling. Shop ahead of time and the battles half won. Buy healthy snacks or portion controlled snacks.

Tip: I keep a box of 100-calorie snacks in the trunk of my car; like pretzels and cheeseballs to prevent stopping at a drive-thru for a diet-disaster treat.

Subj: Chew gum
Date: 8/21/2008
Chew gum! Especially strong, minty gum (eclipse, orbit, strident, any sugar-free gum should work) I've found its the best way to kill almost any craving!

Subj: Remind yourself
Date: 9/11/2009
Take a picture of yourself in a swim suit. Use a camera phone so it is something you have on hand at all times. When your friends or family want to go "grab a burger" take out your picture and remind yourself why it is your eating heathy and exercising! Then, when you look great in that swim suit take a new picture to keep with you when you want to feel happy about all the times you "skipped the burger"!

Now it is your turn. If you have a tip that helps you avoid or conquer cravings, please share it. Use the form below to add your comments or feedback.

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This consumer advocate website is protected by copyright 2002-2012 Askdocweb, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This is a layman's report on cravings and is not intended to replace discussions with a health care provider. Do not use the information on this forum as a substitute for your doctor's advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any drug and follow your doctor's directions. Source material: Food and Drug Administration, Medline, Physician's Desk Reference, and the largest community of people in the world, those who are concerned about side effects and healthcare.
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