Healthy Foods To Reduce Cravings (That Taste Good, Too)
A food craving is an intense desire for a specific food. It can feel uncontrollable and tends to be for unhealthy foods, high in sugar, salt, fat, or a combination of these. For anyone trying to manage their weight or simply stay healthy, food cravings can sabotage the best of intentions.
Food cravings have various causes including being overly hungry, tired, or sleep deprived. Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, hormones, stress, and other emotional factors also affect us. The good news is that there are various ways we can manage our diet and lifestyle to minimize cravings.
The basis for reducing cravings should always be a balanced diet, providing all the essential food groups and nutrients our bodies need for good health.
Keeping blood sugar levels balanced is also key to reducing cravings. When our blood sugar levels become too low, we can experience a range of symptoms including cravings for sugary foods, low energy, poor concentration, and irritability. Many of the foods listed here, therefore help with blood sugar regulation, while others help keep us feeling full and satisfied. In the further tips section below, you can find advice for managing the non-dietary reasons mentioned, such as sleep and stress.
Foods to Reduce Cravings
Nutrition Facts for Tap Water.
Nutrition Facts for Cooked Oatmeal.
Nutrition Facts for Cinnamon.
Nutrition Facts for Cooked Spinach.
Nutrition Facts for Hard Boiled Eggs.
Nutrition Facts for Non-Fat Yogurt.
Nutrition Facts for Lentils (Cooked).
Nutrition Facts for Chia Seeds.
Nutrition Facts for Dry Roasted Pistachio Nuts.
Nutrition Facts for Avocados.
Tips for Reducing Cravings
- Regular eating - One of the most guaranteed ways to get cravings is being overly hungry. Regular eating is therefore key to preventing cravings. Ideally, we should be eating something every 4-5 hours. This means breakfast, lunch, and dinner are appropriately spaced out, plus 1 or 2 healthy snacks.
- Avoid ultra-processed foods - Widely available, ultra-processed foods can contribute to food cravings and obesity (18,19,20,21). This is in part due to their high content of unhealthy fats, sugar, and/or salt, making them highly palatable and setting up a desire to consume more and more. Avoiding or minimizing these foods and consuming a diet based on whole foods is therefore advisable to manage cravings and for overall health.
- Sleep - When we sleep well, the body releases higher levels of a hormone called leptin, which wards off hunger. When we are sleep-deprived, on the other hand, our bodies tend to produce more of a hormone called ghrelin, which increases appetite and desire for high-energy foods.(22)
- Exercise - Include exercise in your daily routine, as it has a positive effect on blood glucose control (23). In addition, exercise releases endorphins (happy chemicals) and helps manage stress.
- Manage stress - Try to manage stress and increase time for relaxation, as stress can disrupt blood sugar levels and increase food cravings (24). The stress hormone cortisol increases our drive to snack on high-calorie foods.
- Avoid fad diets - Restricting your food intake or limiting certain food groups, as advocated by many popular diets, is another sure way to set up a cycle of restriction, cravings, and over-eating (and even binging and disordered eating in some cases). Instead, focus on nourishing your body with the healthy foods it needs for good health.
Data Sources and References
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- Namazi N, Khodamoradi K, Khamechi SP, Heshmati J, Ayati MH, Larijani B. Efficacy and safety of cinnamon in type 2 diabetes mellitus and pre-diabetes patients: A meta-analysis and meta-regression Complement Ther Med. 2019 Apr;43:92-101. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.01.002. Epub 2019 Jan 9. 30935562
- Allen RW, Schwartzman E, Baker WL, Coleman CI, Phung OJ. The impact of cinnamon on anthropometric indices and glycemic status in patients with type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials Ann Fam Med. 2013 Sep-Oct;11(5):452-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1517. 24019277
- Rebello CJ, Chu J, Beyl R, Edwall D, Erlanson-Albertsson C, Greenway FL. Consumption of thylakoid-rich spinach extract reduces hunger, increases satiety and reduces cravings for palatable food in overweight women J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):470-7. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.1003999. Epub 2015 Jun 1. 26029978
- Amirinejad A, Heshmati J, Shidfar F. Acute Effects of a Spinach Extract Rich in Thylakoids on Satiety: A Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2019 Dec 13;19(1):565-573. doi: 10.1007/s40200-019-00443-w. eCollection 2020 Jun. 32550209
- Köhnke R, Lindbo A, Larsson T, Lindqvist A, Rayner M, Emek SC, Albertsson PA, Rehfeld JF, Landin-Olsson M, Erlanson-Albertsson C. Effects of thylakoid intake on appetite and weight loss: a systematic review Scand J Gastroenterol. 2009;44(6):712-9. doi: 10.1080/00365520902803499. 19308799
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- Moore A. Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms Bioessays. 2014 Oct;36(10):905. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400146. 25205250
- Kim SJ, de Souza RJ, Choo VL, Ha V, Cozma AI, Chiavaroli L, Mirrahimi A, Blanco Mejia S, Di Buono M, Bernstein AM, Leiter LA, Kris-Etherton PM, Vuksan V, Beyene J, Kendall CW, Jenkins DJ, Sievenpiper JL. Dietary pulses, satiety and food intake: a systematic review and meta-analysis of acute feeding trials Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 May;103(5):1213-23. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.124677. Epub 2016 Mar 30. 27030531
- Ortinau LC, Hoertel HA, Douglas SM, Leidy HJ. Chia seed ( Salvia Hispanica L.) added yogurt reduces short-term food intake and increases satiety: randomised controlled trial Nutr J. 2014 Sep 29;13:97. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-97. 25266206
- Vuksan V, Choleva L, Jovanovski E, Jenkins AL, Au-Yeung F, Dias AG, Ho HV, Zurbau A, Duvnjak L. Salba-chia (Salvia hispanica L.) in the treatment of overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes: A double-blind randomized controlled trial Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Feb;71(2):234-238. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.148. Epub 2016 Dec 21. 28000689
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- Carughi A, Bellisle F, Dougkas A, Giboreau A, Feeney MJ, Higgs J. Daily consumption of pistachios over 12 weeks improves dietary profile without increasing body weight in healthy women: A randomized controlled intervention Nutrients. 2019 Apr 2;11(4):767. doi: 10.3390/nu11040767. 30986958
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