Is it just me, or does the dropping temperature heighten your cravings for sugary, decadent snacks? When it’s chilly outside, indulging in sweet treats just seems so right. It also seems right in the summer, when ice cream cravings kick in, and at the end of the work day when you can’t help but dig into that bag of potato chips in your cupboard. Who am I kidding, cravings are pretty much universal and sugar addictions are year-round occurrences. But, there are tips to control food cravings so that you can overcome unhealthy eating patterns.

The thing is, food cravings are hardwired into our brains. Just like when we exercise, powerful endorphins are released when we consume decadent foods such as cookies and French fries. That blissful feeling reinforces and rewards this way of eating, magnifying the pleasure with every bite you take. Luckily, there are efficient ways to curb your carb cravings so that you fill your body with nutrient-packed foods, rather than unhealthy sugars and fats. Take a look at 5 awesome tips to control your food cravings.

While I often feel like my sugar cravings are worse in cold weather months, the reality is that food cravings are pretty much universal and sugar addictions are year-round occurrences. The good news is that there are tons of great strategies to overcome unhealthy eating patterns, and this collection of tips to control food cravings is a great place to start!

Avoid triggers

If you’re aware of your triggers, whether it’s a cupcake shop you walk by on your way home from work, or a certain food that you can’t get out of your head, try your best to avoid it. We crave what we eat, so if you eliminate trigger foods from your diet, you are less likely to want them. It will probably be tough in the beginning, but with some time and self-control, you’ll notice your cravings eventually subside.

Stick to a schedule

Schedule your meals and snacks each day so that you’re not mindlessly nibbling. When you snack randomly, you’re more likely to grab something out of your cupboard or buy something from a café that’s sweet and unhealthy. Sticking to a schedule and eating every few hours will help keep you full and less likely to indulge in quick fixes.

Food swaps

Swapping foods you crave for healthy alternatives is a great way to still feel satisfied while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For example, swap potato chips and dip with multi grain pita and hummus, instead of French fries, try baked sweet potato fries, and instead of after-dinner cheesecake, try Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and graham cracker crumble for dessert.

Indulge a little

Going cold turkey can do more harm than good. Allow yourself to indulge a few times a week, with reasonable portions. Depriving yourself entirely makes it much more likely that you’ll rebel and overindulge. Pack a few cookies for yourself for lunch a couple days a week, and you probably won’t devour that whole tub of ice cream in your freezer.

Distract yourself

There’s a difference between cravings and hunger. If you’re only hungry for chocolate or French fries, it’s most likely a craving. Cravings typically only last about ten minutes, so when you feel one coming on, do something to distract yourself. Go for a walk, call a friend, meditate, run some errands – you can do a number of productive things until the craving dwindles.

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While I often feel like my sugar cravings are worse in cold weather months, the reality is that food cravings are pretty much universal and sugar addictions are year-round occurrences. The good news is that there are tons of great strategies to overcome unhealthy eating patterns, and this collection of tips to control food cravings is a great place to start!

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This is an excerpt from the article 5 Tips to Control Food Cravings which originally appeared on http://www.cloudywithachanceofwine.com/.