Sometimes, it’s the little things that derail your diet—your daily latte habit, that piece of chocolate after dinner every night, or a burger with friends every Friday night. Other times, it’s the big things—an entire box of oreos after a long day at work, a few too many drinks every single evening, or a junk-food-filled vacation with your girlfriends.
No matter what cravings are your downfall, it’s important to recognize your habits so that you can reframe your choices, shift negative patterns, and make better choices for your health.
Whether you struggle with late night snacking, stress eating, or a diet soda addiction, there’s one thing you need to know: you have the power to change your habits, one decision at a time. And remember, if there could be a deeper issue underlying your eating habits, it’s always best to talk with a professional.
Here are five ways to kill your cravings and eat clean...so that you can shift your mindset, get results faster, and reach your health goals.
KEEP A FOOD DIARY
If you’ve ever said, “I don’t eat that much, but I still can’t lose the weight,” you may want to try keeping a food diary for a few weeks. Often, mindless eating habits make up a large chunk of our caloric intake...which might explain why the scale isn’t budging for you.
Start tracking your food choices and portion amounts, and see if you can spot any patterns that are keeping you from seeing the results that you’d like to achieve. Bonus: also track how you feel after eating—this can help you identify the foods that make you feel energetic and alert (and the foods that lead to bloating, stomach pain, or brain fog).
ASK SMART QUESTIONS
When you’re tempted to reach for that bag of chips or second cookie, pause for a moment and ask yourself one important question: “Why?” Identifying the motivations behind your cravings can help you make better choices and form new habits.
Maybe you eat that bowl of ice cream every night because you feel like you deserve a reward after a stressful day of work. Maybe you reach for snacks at the office when you’re bored or frustrated. Acknowledging the emotions that fuel your cravings is often the first step towards getting rid of those pesky unhealthy habits.
Guess what? When you get hit with sugar cravings in the middle of the afternoon or right after dinner, you may just be thirsty! It’s easy to misinterpret thirst for hunger if you aren’t paying close attention to your body.
Next time you automatically reach for a sugary dessert, stop yourself and drink a big glass of water instead. Wait for twenty minutes and see if you still want that treat. Usually, the answer is “no.”
DITCH THE JUNK
You can’t eat it if you don’t have it. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. If you keep your pantry stocked with your favorite sugar-rich, carb-loaded, salty snacks, it’ll be pretty hard to resist temptation when you’re at the end of a long week.
Beat your cravings in advanced by keeping your kitchen stocked with clean ingredients only. You can allow yourself a little bit of diet flexibility when you’re eating out with friends, but stick to healthy foods at home.
MAKE SMALL SWITCHES
Once you decide to cut out your unhealthy indulgences, it’s time to find healthier snacks, beverages, and sweets to enjoy instead. Because you can’t survive off chicken breasts and broccoli alone, am I right?
Next time you’re grocery shopping, choose a few healthy replacements for your favorite foods. Try swapping flavored mineral water for soda, fruit for sweets, and carrots with hummus for salty/crunchy snacks.
Sticking to a clean diet isn’t easy, but the health and fitness benefits are totally worth it! Use these tips to stay on track, stay motivated, and stay committed to your goals.