You're at a co-worker's desk chatting about a project when you catch a whiff of the potato chips she's munching. Suddenly, you're overtaken by a desperate desire for a crunchy bite of salt and grease. Though most people experience an urge for a particular food from time to time, you can employ a few tactics to manage your snack cravings.
Eat on a schedule. There's a difference between mindless munching and constructive snacking. Eating something nutritious every three to four hours will keep your stomach full and your energy levels stable. Additionally, healthy snacking that is intentional may help ward off cravings for junk later in the day.
Analyze triggers. A craving often presents as an urgent need for a particular food. It can be tempting to indulge immediately and live with the regret later. Instead, take a moment to determine why you are experiencing the craving. Did you see a television commercial featuring mouth-watering chocolate or catch a whiff of fried food? Simply recognizing and assessing your craving may diminish it.
Deal with your feelings. Sometimes cravings spring from emotions including anxiety, boredom, sadness or loneliness. Snacking on chocolate may provide a temporary distraction, but it won't take away your negative feelings. Instead of reaching for junk food, do something constructive. If you're lonely, call a friend. If you're bored, work on a hobby. Don't mindlessly eat as a way to cope.
Satisfy desires before they turn into cravings. If you find yourself with a hankering for a cookie at lunchtime, eat only one and completely enjoy the experience without guilt. If you restrict your diet too much, your snack cravings will become overpowering.
Plan ahead. If you have a tasty, healthy and well-rounded meal packed for lunch, you're not as likely to reach for the brownies your co-worker brought to the office. Make sure you get enough calories at each meal to feel full and satisfied. Dieters commonly make the mistake of eating too little at meals only to binge on snack food later.
Stay hydrated. Hunger and thirst can be confused. When a craving hits, take a sip of water and wait a few minutes to see if the craving subsides. Carry a bottle of water and be sure to drink a little every hour.
Set a good example even when your kids aren't watching. As a parent, you wouldn't want your child to gorge himself on candy and chips. You want good health for your child; you should want the same for yourself. Before you start munching on junk food, ask yourself whether you would want your child to do the same. If not, put down the snack food and walk away.