Are you out of control around sweets, chocolate, or chips? Do you often hear the bag of tortilla chips calling you by name? Read this before you answer the call.
Everyone has food cravings, especially for foods that are rich in fat, sugar, and salt, or any combo of the three. (That’s why we find chocolate, chips, baked goods, ice cream, and fast food so irresistible.) In fact, one study found that 97% of women and 68% of men reported having food cravings.
But the answer to your cravings problem isn’t to ignore them. Research shows that food restriction and avoidance can increase the intensity of cravings, so the key is to eat foods that can actually help tamp down hunger and cravings. The other strategy is to have healthier options of what you’re craving, so you can feel satisfied without derailing your diet. The next time you feel a hankering for an indulgent food coming on, you can cave into that craving without destroying your diet by reaching for one of these hunger-crushing foods. And for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
Start meals with soup
Starting our meal with soup has a similar effect as having a piece of fruit before your meals. It fills you up with fewer calories, thanks to its high water content. Studies show that having broth or vegetable-based soup before your meal reduced the amount of calories you’ll eat at that meal. Many weight-loss experts advise their clients to eat soup daily to help them lose weight and keep it off. Look for soup that is low in calories, like broth, vegetable, or tomato soup, or choose those that have high fiber counts like minestrone or bean soups. One study found that enjoying soup as your first course helped study participants eat about 20% fewer calories or an average of 134 fewer calories at their meal. What’s more, even though they ate fewer calories, they stayed satisfied.
Fill up with fiber-rich fruit
Fruit helps increase the fiber in your diet, which helps to keep you full. What’s more, water-rich choices will help send a signal from your stomach to your brain that you’re full. Some fiber-rich picks: a cup of raspberries packs in 8 grams fiber, and a cup of wild blueberries has 6 grams. A medium apple has nearly 4.5 grams, a pear has 5.5 grams, and an average-sized orange has around 4 grams of fiber. A small study in Brazil found that participants who ate either an apple or pear before each of their main meals lost a significant amount of weight compared to those who didn’t eat fruit before their meals.
Reach for healthy protein
When it comes to cravings, protein-rich foods can be your best friend. Good sources of protein that rank high on the satiety index include eggs, Greek yogurt, fish, and lean poultry options. For the best effect, try to start your day off with some protein (about 25-30 grams at your first meal) to help keep your hunger and appetite in check. This can help jump-start your weight loss. In fact, one study found that eating an egg and turkey sausage breakfast sandwich was more filling and helped study participants eat fewer calories at lunch compared to eating a low-protein breakfast.
Reach for filling chocolate treats
According to research, chocolate is the most craved food. If you feel like gooey chocolatey candy bars, brownies, or chocolate chip cookies are calling your name, opt for an ounce of dark chocolate that has at least 70% cacao. Dark chocolate has lower sugar and calorie counts and is packed with beneficial antioxidants, so it helps keep blood sugar levels stable to control hunger and cravings. Another great option is to make a chocolate protein pudding by mixing 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt with 2 teaspoons cocoa powder. Stir to combine. The protein in Greek yogurt will help keep you full while the cocoa powder will satisfy your craving for chocolate.
Opt for oats
Oats are a fiber-rich whole-grain often recommended for their heart-health benefits but several studies show that they can help control appetite and cravings. Oats are particularly high in a type of soluble dietary fiber called beta-glucan, which has been shown to trigger hunger hormones, keeping you fuller, longer. What’s more, beta-glucan slows digestion to keep blood sugar and your appetite in check. A cup of oats has about 150 calories and 4 grams of hunger-crushing fiber. In addition to enjoying oats for breakfast, try incorporating oats into burgers, soups and stews, casseroles, and desserts.
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