How to Control Post-Run Cravings

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How to Control Post-Run Cravings

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Martin Leigh/Cultura

Despite our best efforts for healthy eating, we've all given into those intense cravings for certain sugary, high-fat, high-calorie foods. It's especially tempting to indulge your cravings after a hard run or workout. Here are some simple tips to keep your cravings from turning into out-of-control binges.

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Distract yourself.

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Cravings typically last 10 minutes. If you can distract yourself for that time, you can get over it. When you feel a craving some on, try going for a run, making a cup of tea, giving yourself a pedicure, making a phone call, listening to music, or doing something else that you really enjoy. Before you know it, you're having fun and busy, and the craving has passed.

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Keep healthy snacks on hand.

Banana
Stuart Minzey

If you stock your desk drawers, kitchen pantry, and refrigerator with healthy snacks, you're less likely to give into a craving for a high-calorie, high-fat food because you'll have a healthier alternative available. For example, try to have a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of chocolate skim milk instead of a candy bar. 

More: Healthy Snacks for Runners

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Write it down.

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Tripod

Keep track of your cravings in a journal to determine if your emotional state is the underlying trigger. Once you figure out what's causing your urges, try looking for other ways to relieve stress. Running is always a good stress reliever, but you can also consider calling a friend or watching a funny sitcom.

Tracking the exact number of calories you're taking in will also help you think carefully before going aboard on high-calorie foods. Many runners overestimate the number of calories they burn during runs and then underestimate the amount of calories in their post-run foods. Tracking your foods will help you become more aware of how much you're burning and consuming.

Also see: Why Am I Gaining Weight During Marathon Training?

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Brush your teeth.

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Anderson Ross/Blend Images/Getty

When your mouth is minty-fresh, it's likely that you'll want to keep it clean and avoid giving into your craving. Once you've had your post-run nutrition, brush your teeth so you can feel like your post-run eating is done. You can even floss and gargle with mouthwash to make your mouth feel even cleaner.

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Use portion control.

Popcorn
Jonathan Kantor

If you have a really strong craving, it's fine to indulge –- a little. If you deprive yourself too much, it may lead you to overeating. Try to prevent yourself from going overboard by placing only a certain amount of food in front of you. Put potato chips in a small bowl rather than eating them right out of the bag, for example. This is especially important after a tough run or workout, when you may feel that a big-calorie binge is justified. In reality, you could end up eating way more calories than you burned during your run. 

More: Tips for Portion Control

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Eat small, frequent meals.

Eating Salad
George Doyle

Don't go more than three hours between meals and snacks to prevent yourself from getting too hungry and overeating the wrong foods. Try to have five to six small, nutritious meals a day, rather than three big meals.

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Avoid mindless eating.

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Martin Leigh/Cultura

Try not to eat while you're driving, watching TV, working on the computer, or doing some other distracting activity. If you eat when you're distracted, you won't pay attention to how much you're eating and you won't fully enjoy your food. You also won't realize when you're actually full and you'll end up eating way more calories than you need to feel satisfied.

More: How to Avoid Mindless Eating
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