Are you trying to survive the Hunger Games?
You’re sticking to your meal plan like a well-behaved member of the District. Everything seems to be going fine. Eat, train, rest, repeat.
Somehow you’ve managed to evade the summoning for days, maybe even weeks.
You even thought you could gamble on getting out of it. Slip through the cracks. Go unnoticed. Maybe even sneak in a few extra cheat meals or snacks here and there, without suffering any consequences.
But no one has immunity when it comes to the Hunger Games.
At some point in time, you’re going to meet your match. And you’ll have to figure out how to outsmart one of your worst enemies, if you want to win at shredding fat, building muscle, and transforming your body.
Your opponent: Food Cravings. Knowing where this enemy likes to hide is your first defense.
It’s mid-afternoon. You’ve already survived a stressful day at work, school, taking care of the kids, whatever. And you’ve even followed the rules of your meal plan perfectly.
- Watch your back. About this time of day, Food Cravings will be hiding in the pantry, quickie-mart, fast-food drive-thru, or maybe even that secret stash in your desk drawer.
Or maybe it’s late at night. You’ve managed to remain inconspicuous by eating the right foods, the right maros, and just enough calories the entire day.
- Watch your back. More than one Tribute has lost a battle against Food Cravings seduced by late-night snacking in front of the TV, overeating at a restaurant, or impulse purchases loaded with empty calories and regret.
How do you beat Food Cravings?
Here’s a sobering fact the Capitol doesn’t want you to know. You can’t really beat Food Cravings.
Sure, you can make Food Cravings go away by terrorizing it with an extra glass of water, a leafy-green salad, mind control, or steamed veggies.
But no matter how many times you take down Food Cravings, this beast will always return.
Being prepared and knowing how to respond when Food Cravings threaten your progress is the only way you’ll survive the Hunger Games.
Here are 10 ways to beat Food Cravings:
1. Drink more water. You should be doing this already. But if you’re not. Drink up. Aim for 3 to 4 liters of water a day. Set an alarm or reminder if you have to. Have a glass of water before every meal. Find a way. You’ll feel fuller longer and less likely to yield to Food Cravings.
2. Stock your arsenal. Don’t wait for Food Cravings to make a move without being prepared. Plan ahead and stock up on low-calorie healthy snack foods you enjoy. When Food Cravings strike, some low-fat, low-calorie ice cream, diet soda, or sugar-free snacks can be just enough to win the battle.
3. Get your Zzzs. Think you can skimp on sleep and outsmart Food Cravings? Wrong. If you’re not getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep a night, you’re setting yourself up for an attack that typically ends with junk food wrappers and empty containers on the floor.
4. Crunch and munch. Got a craving for potato chips? You can find some low-calorie options. Or go with a crunchy alternative like celery and a little peanut butter.
5. Eat well. Eat often. If your schedule, work, lifestyle allows, follow your meal plan and eat every couple of hours to avoid roller-coaster spikes in insulin levels and major hunger cravings. Need a meal plan? Go here.
6. Battle with BCAAs. Got a craving for something sweet? Steer clear of the candy aisle and dessert menu, you’ll have a hard time defeated Food Cravings there. Instead, sip on BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids). There’s a long list of benefits to supplementing with BCAAs for training and recovery. Research shows BCAAs can also help suppress appetite.
7. Fill up on fiber. First the obvious. Only if it fits your macros. Fiber-rich foods like legumes, berries, avocado, or whole-grain oats, cereal, and pasta take longer to digest, and help you feel full. Include these foods as part of your meal, or a snack, and you’re less likely to become a victim of Food Cravings.
8. Be patient. If you’ve been used to eating sugary snacks and feeding a craving every time your brain thinks you’re hungry, be patient. It’s mostly likely psychological cue you need a little time to overcome.
“When your body is used to consuming sugary foods, the dopamine release you get from it makes you feel good,” says Team RSF member Jordan Ferguson. “When those foods become a restriction, it’s normal to crave them. But the longer you go without, the easier it will become.”
9. Practice distraction. Feeling like Food Cravings is about to take you out of the eating-clean District? Before you plow through a package of Oreos, district yourself for at least 30 seconds. Do whatever it takes. One study found that 30 seconds of tapping your foot or even staring at a blank wall is enough to redirect your thoughts to ward off a craving.
10. Get creative in the kitchen. Still wondering how to beat Food Cravings? Get creative with cooking, and find ways to turn less-than healthy desserts into low-calorie treats packed with protein. You’ll find lots of ways to do that here.
And if you do take a hit from Food Cravings, don’t worry. You won’t be eliminated. Regroup. Get back on track. Review your meal plan. And be ready for battle the next time you’re picked for the Hunger Games.
Need more ideas to help you beat Food Cravings? Let me know.
- An, R., et al. Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005-2012. Nutritional Epidemiology. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26899737
- Greer, S., et al. (2013). The impact of sleep deprivation on food desire in the human brain. Nature Communications. From: https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms3259
- Munsters, M., et al. (2012). Effects of meal frequency on metabolic profiles and substrate partitioning in lean healthy males. PLos One. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3374835/
- Quin, L., et al. (2011). Higher branched-chain amino acid intake is associated with a lower prevalence of being overweight or obese in middle-aged east asian and western adults. Journal of Nutrition. From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3021443/
- Pasman, W., et al. (1997). Effect of won week of fibre supplementation on hunger and satiety ratings and energy intake. Appetite. From: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S019566639790091X
- Weil, R., et al. (2014). Effects of simple distraction tasks on self-induced food cravings in men and women with grade 3 obesity. Obesity Society. From: research.usc.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/usc:14953