We all get them! For those trying to lose weight and stay fit, they can be quite an obstacle. Whether you find yourself with a food craving for sweet chocolate, salty chips, cheesy pizza, creamy pasta, bagels, or all of the above!… our personal trainers want to talk about why your food cravings happen and how best to deal with them to ensure continued fat loss.

First of all, let’s decipher the difference between your cravings and actual hunger. Cravings are rooted from emotions while hunger is rooted in biology. If you literally do not consume enough daily calories then of course your body will want food even after dinnertime. However, the majority of our cravings occur out of emotion or habit.

What does this mean for your food cravings?

The emotional craving for food can stem from many different things, so we’ll offer a few examples. The first one is stress release. After a long, hard day of work, taking care of the kids, running errands, school, etc., all we want to do is plop down on the couch, flip on the TV and indulge in some type of comfort food. We deserve it after that long day, right? Wrong. We deserve to nourish our bodies with what they need not indulge in what our minds tell us we want.

Besides stress release, other times we tend to snack are when we are bored and out of habit. At the end of the day when your mind is free to wander, it is much more likely to wander towards chocolate and pizza then running or burpees. And if you are used to eating something sweet after dinner or popping movie theater popcorn as you watch TV, breaking that habit is going to take some real effort on your part. But, if you want to achieve major fat loss and transform your body, expect the need to transform your thought processes as well.

So what do we do?!

We know how hard it is to resist food cravings. We will often go out of our way to fulfill them. Why wouldn’t we? They literally stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain and release mood elevating transmitters.

The ultimate response to cravings is to find alternative ways to release these mood elevators and hopefully sidetrack your thoughts of fattening foods! Here are some examples: make sure you aren’t confusing thirst for hunger by drinking a full glass of water; if you’re feeling stressed out, stretch for five or ten minutes and focus on your breathing or take a hot shower or bath; if you’re feeling bored, go for a walk to calm your nerves and relax your mind and body, often times changing your environment will immediately change your frame of mind. To break a habit like after dinner sweets, try brushing your teeth immediately after dinner. Yes, it sounds strange but have you ever eaten something sweet right after brushing your teeth? It doesn’t always taste that great….

If worse comes to worse,

Don’t try to mindlessly fight food cravings by letting time pass idly by. They will NOT go away and you will end up caving eventually! When push comes to shove and none of the above mentioned tactics seem to work, try substituting your usual go-to with a healthier form of it. Instead of a candy bar, shoot for some low-fat chocolate milk or a fudgesicle. Frozen bananas are a quick easy way to satisfy a sweet tooth as well. If you’re craving chips, try a low-fat version or a healthier alternative like blue tortilla chips, which are generally low in fat and also have fiber. Crunchy vegetables are also a great option when you need to munch. Some of our personal trainers’ favorite fat loss snacks: celery with a scoop of protein-rich peanut butter or baby carrots dipped in a fun-flavored hummus. If you absolutely cannot resist your initial craving, try to purchase a small portion size so that you can still control how much you consume.

Remember – YOU are in control!

Do everything you can to identify the cause of your food cravings and remain in control of the situation. You will feel amazing once you’ve mastered this art. If you do give in, which everyone does occasionally, don’t allow it to become a slippery slope.  Get right back on track and work extra hard the next day!