Trying to kick a bad habit like overeating or smoking? Help manage your cravings with these helpful tips

The one thing that routinely ruins people’s efforts to successfully lose weight or stop smoking is the gnawing discomfort of cravings.

Let’s face it. It’s hard to stick to a healthy eating plan when your stomach is growling, or to give up cigarettes when your mind and body are screaming for the ritual of lighting up a smoke.

Here are five tried-and-true tips to help you manage those cravings.

5 Tips to Manage Food Cravings

  • Eat Five Meals a Day: Eat five small (about 350-calorie) meals evenly spaced throughout the day. This proven strategy helps keep you feeling satisfied plus keeps your blood sugar levels steady.
  • Ditch Juice: Eat whole fruit (or munch on vegetables) instead of drinking juice. The fibre in fruit and vegetables helps keep you feeling full.
  • Grab a Soup: Begin lunch and dinner with a cup (250 mL) of broth or vegetable or miso soup. The added liquid helps you feel full faster.
  • Go Nuts: Choose ¼ cup (60 mL) of healthy nuts like almonds or walnuts for an afternoon snack. Their protein content makes them quite filling.
  • Add Protein, Cut Carbs: Eat a little lean protein (low-fat dairy products, fish, poultry or lean meat) with every meal, and reduce the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Protein takes longer to digest, so you feel full longer, plus it suppresses appetite.

5 Tips to Manage Cigarette Cravings

  • Chew Something: Instead of putting a cigarette in your mouth, munch on vegetable sticks or sugar-free gum or nibble on a toothpick or cinnamon stick. Oral substitutes help satisfy the craving without the smoke.
  • Make Busy with Your Hands: Keep your hands busy by squeezing a stress ball or holding a pencil. If your hands are occupied, they’ll be less inclined to reach for a cigarette.
  • Drink Water: Every time you feel a craving coming on take a long, slow drink of cold water. The cold liquid fills you up and removes the urge to smoke.
  • Take a Walk: When cravings strike, try to walk them off. Going for a brisk walk is an excellent strategy for managing cravings, plus it’s great for your overall health.
  • Snap Out of It: Wear a rubber band around your wrist and snap it gently when you feel a craving coming on. It’s a simple way to literally “snap out of it.”

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.