10 Ways You Can Beat Junk Food Cravings

What's That Craving All About?

junk food

Cravings for junk foods can make you miserable, especially when they seem to come from nowhere. One minute you’re fine and the next you feel like your whole body is begging for an extra large peanut butter cup.

It’s easier when you crave apples or blueberries or green beans because they’re low in calories and good for you. The problem is when you feel like you need something sweet, something salty or something high in fat. Or, worst case scenario, is when you crave all three at one time.

Cravings seem to take on a life of their own. You can fight them, or you can give in to the temptation. Giving in once in awhile, or controlling the cravings by choosing small portions that allow you to stay within your calorie budget are fine. But when cravings turn into binges,  you run the risk of gaining unwanted weight or living off foods that just aren’t good for you.

Do you struggle with junk food cravings? Then take a look at our most helpful tips.

Deal With Your Trigger Foods

Choose chocolate or protein bar?
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It’s much easier to give in to temptation when the food you crave is within easy reach. So don’t keep unhealthy foods you tend to crave in your kitchen or at your desk at work or wherever you are.  I don’t mean you can’t keep any treats in the house, but select goodies that are easier for you to manage. Don’t stock up on peanut butter cups if you can’t seem to walk by without eating the whole bag.

Don't Skip Meals

Woman eating lunch
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Having a tummy that’s not growling makes it easier to ward off your cravings, so don't skip your regular meals. Start with a healthy breakfast and follow up with a nutritious lunch and dinner. And it’s okay to include some snacks as long as they’re good for you and your keep your calorie count in line.

Is It Craving or Hunger?

Hungry woman
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There’s a difference between having the physical feelings of hunger and the mental and emotional feelings of craving something. If you’re hungry and it’s not close to mealtime, you should probably eat something. If you’re not really hungry, then try some of my crave-busting distraction techniques, coming up next.

Drink Water or a Low Cal Beverage

Drinking water
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Drinking a tall glass of water might serve as a distraction or it might solve your craving without adding any calories. If plain water sounds boring, add a slice or two of lemon, lime or cucumber. Or sip on iced tea (without the added sugar).

Go for a Walk

Walking outside
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Here’s another distraction that has health benefits. Stave off your cravings with a little exercise and go outside for a walk. If you can’t or don’t want to go outside, do a few minutes of calisthenics.  Besides serving as a distraction, the physical activity might help reduce stress that could be contributing to your cravings. 

Take a Nap

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It’s easier to give into your food cravings when you’re tired, so maybe a short midafternoon nap will help. Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night by going to bed at a reasonable hour (here's help for sleeping better at night).

Brush Your Teeth

Woman brushing teeth.
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Flossing and brushing might just be a distraction, but having a clean mouth and fresh breath might be enough to make you not want to indulge in something sugary or greasy.  If you’re not at home, using breath mints might just do the trick. 

Chew Gum or Hard Candy

Chewing gum
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A stick of gum or a piece of hard candy doesn’t have many calories, and the flavor might be all that you need to get past your sweet craving. Alternatively, you might try something like MealEnders, which combines deliciously sweet flavors with cool, tingly sensations that can stop many craving in their tracks.

Phone a Friend

Texting on phone
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Call or text a friend or family member who can talk you down from your craving. It’s always nice to have someone in your corner who can support your efforts to eat healthier. And you can be there for them when they need help with a craving too. Or you can get social support by joining Calorie Count.

Choose the Healthiest Snack Options

Apple and Peanut Butter
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There are plenty of healthy foods that can satisfy a craving for something sweet or salty. Fresh berries, a fruit smoothie, peanut butter on a celery stick, or one slice of whole grain toast with almond butter can all conquer cravings and add nutritional value. 

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