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6 Ways to Control Your Cravings

Whether you're trying to diet, lose weight, or stay in shape, use these smart strategies to watch what you eat and avoid food temptations.

By Jessica Girdwain

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Simple healthy eating strategies can help control cravings.
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There's temptation everywhere -- a coworker brings doughnuts to the morning meeting, your kids order a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese for dinner, even the barista at Starbucks suggests you have a blueberry scone with your latte. How can you resist?

We won't lie -- it's tough. When women encounter crave-worthy foods like chocolate and potato chips, our brains have an intense "I gotta have it" response, even when we're not hungry. Unhealthy treats, primarily those containing sugar, fat, and salt, cause our bodies to release dopamine. This lights up the reward center in our brains, stimulating our appetite and making us want more of them, says David Kessler, MD, a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and author of The End of Overeating (Rodale). Since virtually all of us have been exposed to these foods all our lives, we crave them often.

But it's not impossible to say no. Employing a few simple strategies can help you overcome those sweet and salty yearnings. "By maintaining a healthy diet and practicing smart responses when faced with temptation, cravings can almost disappear within two weeks," says Susan Roberts, PhD, professor of nutrition at the USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts University, in Boston, and author of The "I" Diet (Workman Publishing Company). All you have to do is learn how to handle these six common diet downfalls.

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