Food cravings, they happen to us all, but they don’t have to be something that completely dictates your food choices — while giving in to that ice cream craving every now and then is perfectly fine, having intense food cravings for sugary things after every meal can be downright frustrating.
So, we’ve put together a list of eight eating mistakes that may be making these food cravings worse. And, heads up — some of these eating mistakes aren’t even all that unhealthy — in fact, we may be thinking we’re eating pretty darn clean but be slacking on important macros like protein that could ultimately be making these food cravings rev up a little more than they should be.
Want in? We got you.
8 Eating Mistakes That May Be Causing Some Serious Food Cravings
#1 Not Eating a Protein-Rich Breakfast
Protein has been shown to be the most satiating macronutrient, so if we’re slacking on our protein intake at breakfast, we may find ourselves starving by 10 AM. This leaves room for food cravings to creep in.
So, make sure to add some clean protein to your breakfast each morning — it may be the trick you need to stay full until lunch.
Here are some of our go-to protein picks to enjoy with breakfast:
- Nuts & seeds
- Nut butter
#2 Eating Too Late At Night
Find yourself reaching for that midnight snack each evening? You’re not alone — it’s often a habit, but one you can break with some serious commitment!
And, there’s some science to back up why we tend to reach for all those sugary treats at night — it all has to do with our circadian system (aka our body’s internal clock). Research suggests that this system increases the hunger we have for sweeter, saltier, and starchier foods at night.
So, what’s the solution? Try to get to bed earlier (if possible), and if cravings do pop up, try sipping on a tall glass of water or sipping on a mug of herbal tea instead.
You can also always practice some self-care by pressing play on a FitOn evening stretch to do something good for your body while also avoiding giving into those late-night sugar cravings.
#3 Consuming Foods With Hidden Salt
Salt is hidden in tons of foods from chips to canned soups and frozen dinners — it’s something we have to be on the lookout for and another possible trigger of food cravings.
Many people find themselves craving dessert or something sweet after a salt-heavy meal, and chances are if the meal you’re eating is loaded with salt, it may also contain added sugar and artificial ingredients too — these all can be a potential cause of food cravings.
The best way to avoid foods with hidden salt is to eat real, clean foods! Think fruits, veggies, poultry, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
Keep your consumption of packaged and processed foods to a minimum, and try to always avoid those frozen dinners or canned soups!
#4 Or, Too Much Sugar
Sugar — we all love to hate it, and the thing is that it’s found in nearly everything! From salad dressings to cereal and even condiments, it’s hard to stay away from it completely. But, if we can cut our sugar intake back even just a bit, it may help with those pesky cravings.
Why? Because consuming sugary foods may cause a spike in blood sugar, and blood sugar imbalances can lead to cravings for more sugar.
The take-home message here is to keep your sugar intake low by avoiding as many packaged and processed foods as you can and choosing whole and real foods instead.
And, when you are reaching for a sweetener, try to stick to natural options (in moderation) such as:
- Pure maple syrup
- Raw honey
- Pitted Medjool dates
- Coconut sugar
- Stevia or monk fruit (for lower carb options)
#5 Consuming Artificial Sweeteners
Regular old sugar isn’t the only potential cause of food cravings here — we have to look at artificial sweeteners too.
Research suggests that artificial sweeteners may change the way we taste food, and may even make those who consume them regularly find naturally sweetened foods like fruit less appealing.
The bottom line is that they aren’t really such a great sugar alternative after all.
#6 Skipping Meals Regularly
Skipping meals on the reg? It may be leading to more food cravings than you think, especially if you find yourself reaching for that sugary snack before dinner just to get those energy levels back up.
Don’t set yourself up for wacky blood sugar levels throughout the day by slacking on meals. Enjoy wholesome and nutrient-dense foods with breakfast, lunch, and dinner to help keep yourself feeling full and those cravings at bay.
#7 Not Staying Hydrated
It’s not uncommon to mix up thirst with hunger, and if you find yourself slacking on your water intake each day, it may be causing some food cravings. Try to stay on top of your water intake by refilling a reusable water bottle and carrying it with you all day.
Oh, and steer clear of the sugary drinks — if you need a flavor boost, try adding some freshly squeezed fruit juice to your water bottle instead.
#8 Having Too Many Trigger Foods Sitting in Your Pantry
Let’s face it — there’s a reason, so many nutrition experts believe in doing a total pantry makeover when starting any new healthy eating journey. Why? Because the more “trigger” foods we have within reach, the more likely we’ll give in when those craving hit.
But, when we have nothing but healthy food choices in our fridge, freezer, and pantry, sticking to our healthy eating goals gets so much easier.
So, challenge yourself to a pantry haul and get rid of anything you know you’ll reach for when you start to feel those pesky cravings creep in. You’ll feel so accomplished and empowered when you realize that YOU are in control of your food choices.
Show Food Cravings Who’s Boss
It’s time to take the power back when it comes to your food choices and show food cravings who’s boss! And, now that you know more about these eight eating mistakes that may be adding more fuel to the food craving fire, you can start making some shifts in how you eat, to not only help combat cravings, but to help support your wellness goals as well.