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3 ways nutritionists fight cravings

Can’t kick your sweet, salty or crunchy craving? Avoid derailing your weight-loss plan with these expert strategies.

By Fitbie.com Aug 30, 2013 9:00PM

Even the world’s healthiest eaters feel pangs for chocolate at 3 p.m. or fixate on a bag of chips in the vending machine like it’s the last food on earth. The difference between them and us: They somehow resist, while we’re left scrounging for change and tearing into a bag of Cheetos Flamin’ Hot.

9 easy ways to clean up your diet

Before you get down on yourself and your faltering willpower, consider this: The secret to withstanding a craving isn’t a steely reserve, it’s about identifying the underlying reason you’re hankering for a Snickers bar and then responding accordingly.

“Sometimes it’s emotional, and you reach for those foods that you love for comfort,” says Molly Morgan, a registered dietitian, owner of Creative Nutrition Solutions in Vestal, N.Y., and author of "The Skinny Rules." “Other times, it may be that you’re tired, which lowers blood sugar and triggers the release of hormones linked to hunger.” Sometimes you simply haven’t eaten enough calories and you really do need energy.

So what’s a hungry person to do? We asked top nutritionists how they stop themselves from overindulging, and they shared three strategies for kicking cravings to the curb.

No. 1: Distract yourself
“I make it a rule to wait at least 15 minutes before I indulge any craving and keep busy with an activity that occupies my hands so I can’t reach for a treat,” says Marjorie Nolan, a registered dietitian and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. “I psych myself out by washing dishes, brushing my teeth or vacuuming. The craving usually passes by the time 15 minutes are up. Sometimes you just have to wait it out.”

Don't let cravings turn you into a jerk

No. 2: Decode your cravings
“Hunger, fatigue and dehydration all lower blood-sugar levels, which increases appetite,” Nolan says. Take a moment to close your eyes, mentally scan your body and ask yourself if you’re really hungry — or if it’s tiredness or thirst that’s making you want to eat. “If I know I didn’t get a lot of sleep the night before, I take a 10-minute nap to help me feel better without reaching for comfort food.” Or, if you haven’t had enough liquids, try drinking a cup of passion-fruit-flavored tea to quench sweet cravings, or V-8 or tomato juice if you’re yearning for something salty.

No. 3: Make a smart swap
Whether you want sweet, salty, crunchy, savory or a combination, there are times when your body simply needs an energy boost. Fiber-rich or nutrient-dense snacks are longer-lasting pick-me-ups than the sugar- and fat-filled treats we tend to yearn for. Try one of these healthier alternatives based on your craving type for a longer-lasting appetite tamer.

Sweet: Warm up half a ripe banana, one square chocolate, 1/4 cup oats and a drizzle of honey; mash together.

Salty: 1/2 cup shelled edamame with sea salt.

Savory: 2 ounces water-packed tuna with 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard.

Creamy: Laughing Cow Light wedge spread with sliced cucumbers.

Crunchy: Dip carrots, sliced peppers and sugar snap peas in 2 tbsp. hummus or guacamole.

Sweet and salty: Make trail mix by combining 1 cup air-popped popcorn, 1/8 cup pretzels, 1/8 cup dried cranberries and 1/8 cup chocolate chips

More from Fitbie:

Why you might be craving carbs

6 breakfasts that crush cravings

4 foods to crush your comfort food cravings

Sep 7, 2013 9:58AM
Sometimes what you eat causes cravings. Have been off wheat for a month. Lost 10 lbs. so far & the cravings stopped overnight. Must say that heartburn also stopped, belly bloating stopped & I have a new level of energy. 
Sep 7, 2013 3:08PM
 Sometimes thirst manifests as hunger.  A large glass of ice water and a little time work well to curb the cravings.
Aug 31, 2013 12:37AM
what a bunch of bull that is ... when I crave a salt .... I can eat 10 healthy items but I will ultimately have what I crave
Sep 7, 2013 2:47PM

Diabetics - try to have a nutritionist contact, at least once/year. Tips, like these, are invaluable.

Sep 7, 2013 5:12PM
Eat raw, organic, fruits and veggies.Watch the weight drop off.More energy and a big increase in libido!
Sep 7, 2013 11:58PM
Think many are food obsessed due to malnutrition. If you are not eating mostly fruit, veggies, nuts /seeds, then you are probably not getting what you need. Also, dairy, meat and gluten are all hard on the digestive system, and should be consumed in moderation. Anything processed is just gonna make you ill from the preservatives/ additives/corn syrup. I run 20 miles a week on a vegan diet and have tons of energy.
Sep 8, 2013 6:38AM
I quit ingesting fake sugar, ie. diet soda, sugar-free pudding, Splenda in my coffee, sugar-free vanilla in my coffee, Sobe diet grapefruit, etc. and my sugar cravings went away. It's not such a struggle to NOT indulge when the sweet cravings aren't there. So, if I'm so inclined, I can have a single serving size Haagen Daz ice cream if I want. I'll go for real ingredients if I partake and it's OK. I appreciate not constantly battling my body to overcome a "sweet" ADDICTION. 
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