Diet & Nutrition

7 Strategies to Curb Cravings, Practice Mindful Eating and Lose Weight for Good

America, we have a problem. More than two-thirds of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese. The statistics are staggering, but they shouldn’t lead us to believe the problem is insurmountable. In fact, it’s not, and there’s plenty of proof. More than a half-million people have lost over 50 million pounds by learning to conquer their food cravings that have little to do with physical hunger.

Because our food choices are mostly driven by emotional rather than physical hunger, we eat to satisfy some kind of longing. It’s critical that we redirect our emotional eating.

Every time you’re at a decision point with food — which, by the way, happens over 200 times a day for most Americans — stop and take a few breaths. Ask yourself: What is the best choice for the body I want?

Beat the defeat of unhealthy eating habits and get back to your optimal weight by using these seven strategies that work:

  1. Embrace the number “15”.Science shows that people enjoy greater success by tackling weight loss in small increments. It’s much easier to think of losing 15 pounds than to worry about losing all your excess weight at once. Dieters can accomplish success 15 pounds at time by eating 15 appropriately sized servings of power-packed foods a day, revving up their metabolism by exercising in 15-minute chucks, and spending 15 minutes a day nourishing their minds with relaxation techniques.
  1. Get your rest.We Americans are an exhausted bunch of people. Although sleep researchers recommend 7 to 8 hours per night, studies show that 30 percent of us get fewer than 6 hours of sleep a night. The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your risk of obesity. When you deprive yourself of adequate sleep, fatigue lowers your ability to resist cravings.
  1. Control cravings before they control you.The first step to reducing emotional eating is to stop when you feel hungry, analyze your feelings, and determine whether your hunger is coming from your stomach or your mind. Ask yourself: What am I feeling? Am I having hunger pangs? Has it been a few hours or a few minutes since I ate last? If you realize you’re not physically hungry, think about what’s going on in your head. Are you frustrated, angry, or annoyed? If your hunger is emotional, you can either ignore it, eat a healthy substitute, or find an activity to fill the need.
  1. Drink half your weight in water.Drinking water helps fill your stomach and boosts your body’s metabolism. It also keeps you hydrated, which is important because we often mistake thirst for hunger. To figure out how much water to drink, divide your weight in half. If you’re 160 pounds, aim for about 80 ounces (ten 8-ounce glasses) per day. Unsweetened coffee, tea, and seltzer can count in your daily tally. Keep in mind that caffeinated beverages are diuretics, meaning they dehydrate your body. Offset this by drinking a glass of water for each cup of coffee or tea. Importantly, cut out all sugary drinks and sodas, which are known contributors to obesity.