Yes, CrossFit class is extremely difficult. But when you consider how challenging it is to resist a slice of pizza when a craving strikes, your workouts may seem like a walk in the park in comparison. Kicking the sweet and salty urges that derail your hard-earned weight loss wins doesn't have to be a struggle, though. There are some simple habits you can incorporate into your everyday life that will outsmart your cravings before they even surface. Keep reading to learn some favorite Eat This, Not That!, science-backed tips:
Have a Foam Party
Can’t seem to kick your afternoon vending machine craving? Adding a foamy, low-cal drink (like a skim caffè misto) or a puffed food snack (like popcorn) to your diet may be your ticket to slim-down success. According to two separate studies, consuming foam-based foods and drinks can significantly reduce appetite and snack cravings. How? As it turns out, your gut and brain are pretty gullible, and air-injected fare tricks us into feeling more full—without the need for additional calories.
Consume More Chromium
You’ve probably noticed that the office candy jar looks all the more tempting when your stomach is growling, so it may not be surprising to learn that keeping hunger at bay is one of the best ways to stop cravings before they start. But for optimal satiety, putting just anything into your mouth won’t do. Eating a diet rich in chromium, a mineral that helps keep blood sugar levels even keel, is one of the best ways to ward off cravings brought on by extreme hunger. To reap the benefits, consume foods rich in the nutrient—such as eggs, chicken, beef, green peppers, apples, bananas and spinach—throughout the day.
Scramble Eggs, Make Some Oatmeal
We hate to sound like a broken record, but breakfast really is one of the most important meals of the day. Yeah, you may initially save some calories by skipping it, but doing so will only up the odds you’ll give in to cravings for diet no-nos, making it harder to trim down in the long run. It has a little to do with math and a lot to do with sleep: Most of us stop eating a few hours before hitting the hay and then sleep for seven or eight hours. After ten plus hours of fasting, the body needs fuel to bring blood sugar levels back to normal, explains Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City. “When you skip breakfast, it can cause blood sugar to drop below healthy levels and increase the urge to eat sugary foods. This is why many people tend to overeat or give into cravings later in the day when they skip their morning meal.”
Get Minty Fresh
If you know the office break room is always filled with alluring sweets, pop a mint before heading in there for your coffee break. A study published in the journal Neurogastroenterology & Motility found that peppermint reduces appetite. Plus, sucking on a mint keeps your mouth busy and serves as a distraction from that plate of leftover birthday cake. Try Livesavers Pep O Mint Mints. They have about 11 calories a pop—far few fewer calories than a slice of cake or a brownie—and are free of sugar alternatives that can cause stomach bloating and intestinal distress.
Get Out the Nutribullet
You already know that spinach is a nutritional superstar, but what you may not know is that adding some of the leaves to your morning beverage may be the key to kicking your junk food cravings to the curb. A small Swedish study found that research participants who consumed an a.m. drink made with spinach extract had increased levels of something called GLP-1, a physiological regulator of appetite and food intake. In turn, participants felt more satiated throughout the day and had less of a desire to eat junk food than the participants who received a placebo. Not sure how to add greens to your morning shake? Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life recommends blending half an avocado with a half cup of spinach, half of a small banana, ¼ cup canned pumpkin and ½ cup of water or unsweetened almond milk.
According to scientists, sipping green tea may make your roommate's chocolate stash look much less appealing. To come to these findings, Swedish researchers divided participants into two groups: One group sipped water with their meal while the other group drank green tea. Not only did tea-sippers report less of a desire to eat their favorite foods (even two hours after sipping the brew), they found those foods to be less satisfying. For similar results at home, enjoy a cup green tea with each meal. Odds are good that you’ll no longer have the desire to steal your roomie’s sweet treats, which your waistline and housemate will be quite thankful for.
Try Red Wine
Red wine vinegar, that is. There’s no denying that grabbing a salad is a healthy dinner decision, but if you dress your greens with traditional salad dressing or balsamic and oil, you may be missing an opportunity to stop your junk food cravings before they surface. Red wine vinegar contains something called acetic acid, a compound that helps keeps food in the stomach longer, boosting satiety. Although the vinegar tastes great on just about any bed of leaves, using it along with some fresh ground pepper atop Greek-inspired salads is particularly tasty.
While it may seem counterproductive, adding naturally sweet foods like fruit to your meals can trick your taste buds into thinking they’re getting a sweet treat and halt cravings before you feel tempted to reach for dessert. Research has found that consuming dietary fiber from fruit helps boost fullness after a meal, which may explain why it’s such an effective tactic. Add grapes, berries and oranges to salads, top turkey sandwiches with apples or pears or throw some fruit into cold rice and whole grain pasta dishes.