Do you crave sweet treats? Or, are you more of a salt lover? When do you typically crave something – is it when the 3 o’clock wall hits at work? Or, is it late at night? Do you crave food when you’re actually hungry? Or, do you want to indulge when you’re stressed out?

First, find out what you’re generally craving and when to help you identify the difference between needing to eat and just a craving. Once you’ve successfully done this, try incorporating the following tips to help kick those cravings to the curb.

Stay adequately full
You’re driving home after a long work day, you missed lunch because you were so busy and now you’re starving. You’re feeling so hungry you don’t think you can wait the 20 minute drive plus the time it will take you to whip something up at home. You drive down the street where the fast food chains seem endless, pull into your favourite spot and hit the drive-thru. Before you know it you’ve downed a greasy burger and fries.

Normally, this wouldn’t have happen if you stayed adequately full, but it’s hard to resist those cravings when you’re hungry. To prevent a scenario similar to this, be sure to eat healthy foods throughout the day that are satisfying and filling.

You want to feel about 70% stuffed when you finish a meal. This means you feel satisfied, but not bloated or uncomfortable.  If you achieve this with healthy foods, you should be able to remain comfortable for 4-6 hours before hunger gets out of control.

Drink water
Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. A general rule of thumb for proper hydration is to drink half your weight in water (ounces) per day. If you’re dehydrated, your body can confuse thirst for hunger. So, next time you’re craving that cookie reach for a glass of water instead and then see how you feel!

Watch out for hidden sugars
Sugars are often hidden in unlikely foods, from salad dressings to juices. By cutting back on hidden sugars you may be able to help prevent sugar cravings. Sugars are addictive – when you consume it your body has a chemical reaction, releasing dopamine, allowing you to feel pleasure. If your body gets used to consuming a certain amount and it makes you feel ‘happy’, there’s no question that you will crave it.

Mindful eating
Eating mindfully means eating while paying attention. You’re aware of what you’re doing, aware of your body and aware of how you are feeling. By eating mindfully you are more likely to skip the cravings and have a healthier relationship with food. You will appreciate what foods are good for your body and how your body reacts to cravings.

Your goal should always be to focus just on eating during any meal or snack time. This implies no television, email checking, social media browsing, driving, etc. Eating in the company of family and friends is welcome of course. Place your utensils down between each bite and chew each bite thoroughly before taking another.