By Simmons Andrews
You’ve been there- The Grill flashes it’s “open 24 hours” sign, the scent of grease from Five Guys tantalizes the nostrils of people passing by. The cravings then take over. Cue salivation.
Palmer Hipp, the president of Active Minds at the University of Georgia, is going to shed some light on how to curb these cravings. Hipp, a health promotion and behavior major, is a Body Project Peer Educator with the health center and the Wellness Chair of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
These five steps to curbing cravings are simple and straightforward, with no drastic lifestyle change necessary. Follow them, and you’ll kick cravings to the curb!
Step One: Identify the trigger.
According to Hipp, cravings often mean something else entirely. “Anything from stress to lack of sleep can trigger a craving,” Hipp says. Let’s simplify: when we eat something we enjoy, it releases endorphins, satisfying us. This need for satisfaction through something easily accessible, like food, is our body’s way of finding a quick substitute for what it’s really lacking.
Step Two: Plan Ahead!
Think about what you should eat before you get a craving. According to Hipp, studies show that we tend to pick healthier options when we plan our meals beforehand. So pack a lunch for in-between classes, and throw in a snack. If you plan ahead, you’re basically stuck with the food you packed, so there’s no excuse to binge on something unhealthy nearby (RIP Chick-fil-A at Tate, I’ll miss you).
Step Three: Water, Water, Water! (And then some more water).
“If you’re craving food that’s not good for you when you shouldn’t be hungry, you’re probably dehydrated,” Hipp says. Drink a large glass of water, around 16 ounces, before and after each meal. That way, you know when you’re full, and are likely to feel fuller longer. According to registered dietitian Becky Hand, drinking water throughout the day keeps your hands busy, so you’re less likely to instinctively reach for food.
Step Four: Remove yourself from tempting environments.
If you’re walking home from downtown on a busy Saturday night, avoid the tempting late night haunts (yes, this includes the hotdog man on the corner of College and Clayton- if you see him, run.) “Eating late at night is typically a sign of boredom, and you should probably be getting sleep instead,” Hipp says.
Step Five: Enjoy Food to the Fullest
According to Benjamin Gray, the Nutrition Education Coordinator at the University of Georgia, if someone is craving a food high in sodium, fat or added sugars, it is best to eat that particular food in a controlled manner.
“Take a portion of the food that you initially think should satisfy you. For example, instead of bringing a candy bar to the couch, break off two pieces. Sit down in an environment without distractions, paying attention to get the full satisfaction,” he says.
According to Gray, this actually tricks our mind into eating less of the “bad” food we’re craving.
Staying healthy in college can be really hard, and finding that perfect balance can take time and willpower.
Next time you pass The Grill, you’ll rejoice in your newfound discipline.