We all get cravings. In fact, about half the world feels a craving for something every day. Some people crave sugar, junk food, or any number of other things.
Whatever the craving is, it can be a struggle not to give into it. Whether it is a weak moment or just not that big of a deal, we all give in and pretty often. So, how do we control our urges?
What can we do to stay strong and beat whatever craving is haunting us? Here is some background information about cravings and eight ways that we can use to help control our cravings.
What You Need To Know About Cravings
Cravings plague just about everybody, so you shouldn’t feel isolated or alone. Anyone of any age can feel like their cravings are a prison and struggle to overcome them.
Cravings are actually signals from the brain. The brain is telling the body that something is missing, and the craving is a longing for whatever it is telling you is not there. So we try to fill it, often with food or other impulses that offer immediate gratification.
What Causes Cravings Anyway?
Cravings can be an association, or they can be connected to a certain hormone. If you have gotten used to eating popcorn every time you watch a movie, then when you watch a movie, you feel like you have to have popcorn. In that case, watching a movie without eating popcorn could feel wrong.
Cravings can be connected to the reward system of your brain as well. This would be like getting a cookie every time you complete a homework problem or finish reading a paragraph.
You will feel demotivated, cheated, or like you did something wrong if you did not receive the positive stimulus for completing the action. Thus, you might struggle to complete the action if the reward isn’t offered.
So, how do we combat this?
Here are eight ways to control these pesky cravings:
It’s not just our toddlers who get a little (or a lot) cranky when they don’t get enough sleep. Pull on your favorite pajamas; it’s time to talk about catching those Zzzzs.
Lack of sleep can cause a whole plethora of problems, and one of these is craving for food or sleep itself. Getting a proper amount of rest can be a game-changer when trying to overcome cravings, especially for your kids. Rest is already vital as your children grow, but it is even more important when they are trying to avoid certain habits or activities. For a little extra help with nodding off, try a SleepyPatch or natural sleep aid.
Hormones play a huge part in cravings, and sleep is a key factor in throwing your hormones out of whack. Those who get proper sleep are 50% less likely to struggle with maintaining a healthy weight and are less likely to contract diabetes.
As much as your kids may hate it, spinach has been proven to be very effective in decreasing cravings, especially when it comes to chocolate. Consuming spinach daily has been proven to help reduce cravings because spinach helps slow down the digestion of fat.
Five grams of spinach extract can be added to anything you consume, be it smoothies or food or anything you end up eating. It can even be sneakily added into anything you make for your children (looking at you, mac and cheese!). Since you’re the one cooking, your little ones will be none the wiser.
3. Gum and Peppermint
It turns out that gum is better for more than helping your breath smell minty fresh. Chewing gum can help with cravings by not only distracting you but also giving you a taste of sweetness without actually snacking on sugar.
Not many people want to willingly give their kids gum (as it can be spat out anywhere and on anything you own) which is totally understandable; we’ve all been there. But, chewing gum for 45 minutes can be really powerful against particularly strong cravings. It is pretty cheap and also effective.
Peppermint is an all-around powerhouse. Peppermint, a common flavor of gum, is also pretty useful to grab control of your cravings. Similar to the way gum, peppermint does not even have to be ingested to give a healthy boost. A quick smell of peppermint essential oil could help reduce food cravings.
4. Get Distracted
It seems so simple. In some ways, it is super easy to get distracted—usually when you have something that has to be done—but whenever you are trying to become distracted, it seems a little harder. Thankfully, kids are distracted a little easier than us adults.
We tend to hyper-focus on what is important to us, like food, making it much harder to get distracted from it. But if you can find something that will shift your focus away from what your body is saying it needs, then you are in a much better place to take charge of whatever you are craving. So, pop on your favorite show, pull out some fun arts and crafts or go for a peaceful nature walk.
5. Eat Well and Often
While the thing most people struggle with craving is food, eating healthier and more often can actually help with cravings. Instead of snacking all day or missing meals, having three proper meals (including breakfast!) can do wonders when craving food.
If you are satisfied, then the craving has less control because you are not actually hungry. Skipping meals and fasting are killers when you are craving because it just makes you want to give in more.
Also, do not be afraid to include a little of the craving in your meals. If you crave chocolate or candy or sugar, have a dessert or side that contains a little of it. Do not have as much as you normally do, but indulge in measured moderation. The key to giving in is making sure that your diet is still nutritious.
Use discretion because not everyone can have a bite of what they want and stop themselves from nibbling at the rest. Know your limits and adhere to them. For your kids, you are probably going to have to set those limits because we all know our children have a little less self-control than we do.
6. Be Mindful
As mentioned previously, you know what your struggle is, and you should know what your children are struggling with. To get past a craving, you have to be in the right state of mind. Nothing difficult is ever accomplished without effort.
Use distraction and plan out your meals and snacks as needed. Hyper-focusing does not do any good, but you do have to address the problem to resolve it. It is going to take determination and even a little bit of help to overcome any craving, big or small.
It will take the right mindset to take back control over your craving. If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up! Accidents happen. Commit to starting again and keep practicing mindfulness. To get to a better place, awareness is essential.
Stress, like sleep, can cause so many problems. Guess what? Cravings are one of them. Again, cravings stem from off-balance hormones, and stress sends out a lot of hormones that you do not want.
How many times have you heard someone say they “stress over (insert situation here).” Stress eating, stress exercising, stress crying, and even stress paralysis are all common things that people do or say they do when stress starts to get to them.
It can be hard to manage stress. Sometimes your trigger is something totally out of your control. However, it is important to be able to recognize when you are starting to get stressed and to learn what is best to help you relax.
8. Know When To Ask for a Little Help
Some cravings are ridiculously strong. Maybe we have given into it too many times; maybe it is something that is just an integrated part of your life, maybe you just cannot gain enough confidence and control. Either way, needing help is not something to be ashamed of.
If you need a little help, consider the CravePatch. It is an all-natural product that does not need to be ingested. It uses a tested blend of essential oils like lemon and peppermint. This appetite control sticker may effectively help you or your child get the upper hand against those hard (or even maybe the easy) cravings.
The CravePatch from The Natural Patch Co. works for adults and kids. These stickers have fun emoji patterns so that your kid will look forward to wearing this helpful tool. CravePatch can go on any clothing and is easy to use.
We all struggle. Everyone needs help once and a while. Finding an accountability partner that you trust, checking in with your healthcare provider, or using something that helps either form this list or from others, could be the answer.
11 Ways to Stop Cravings for Unhealthy Foods and Sugar | Healthline
The 27 Smartest Ways to Control Your Cravings | Best Life Online
Cravings: The Nutrition Source | Harvard Chan School of Public Health