Cravings and hunger pangs are mostly a daily thing. It is natural for the body to want food. But the thing is, sometimes it's needful, sometime's it's not. And sometimes, you can eat, other special times (like fasting, or calorie restriction), you can't. Withholding certain food types from your system in moderation and in proper administration is beneficial. But as a dietary habit and a healthy lifestyle, what really works is moderation in the foods you consume. Depriving yourself of certain food types often lead to binging in times of vulnerability. The more you prevent yourself from eating certain foods, the more you are tempted to consume them. Rid yourself of the struggle by learning and disciplining yourself to eat in proper quantities and in proper time spacing.
Like, if you are in the habit of turning to chocolates, candies, sodas, sweet breads, and the like, for instant gratification, it's time to make a change. These mentioned (and more) are not the best ways to manage cravings and hunger pangs. In good portions, these are allowable and are better eaten after a good meal or workout.
Normally, cravings and hunger pangs mean your body is signaling you that it needs some replenishment and energy boost. Don't ignore that. Other times, the eyes see what is pleasant to eat and the brain appreciates the sight, triggering a desire of the body to taste. In these times, you must discipline yourself to accommodate by tasting in good portions or making better substitutions. You can give in to the cravings and satiate the hunger pangs. But do so in a better way. Here are some ideas:
- Stock up on fruit assortments. Grab one when cravings set in. Some will be high on glucose so remember to vary the fruit you eat. Consume high-glucose fruits like sweet mangoes in small servings. Livestrong gives some discussion on glucose containing fruits here. Myfooddata lists some high-glucose fruits here. Women'shealthmag mentions low-sugar fruits such as strawberry, cranberry, raspberyy, blackberry, and avocado.
- Stay well-hydrated. Thirst is sometimes mistaken for hunger so ensure regular water intake throughout the day. When craving sets in, help yourself to some water first then decide to snack after you've had some fluids. Also try having tea and clear soups instead when cravings set in.
- Get sufficient hours of sleep. Studies like this show a connection between lack of sleep and an increase in appetite. There are observations that a decrease in sleep hours somewhat increases the release of hormones (leptin and ghrelin) that stimulate appetite.
- De-stress appropriately. Harvard Health Publishing states that while short term stress can shut down one's appetite via the release of epinephrine which triggers the fight or flight response that can put eating on hold; long-term stress also releases the hormone cortisol which triggers an increase in appetite. Instead of resorting to stress eating, learn breathing techniques and do some reps to de-stress. Take a break from hard work intentionally. Observe day-offs regularly. Leave your work desk for a short walk or breather outside the confines of your work area.
- Interrupt extended time of activity or inactivity with stretching and quick exercise reps. Sometimes, sitting for long periods of time (as well as working for long periods of time) elicits cravings and hunger pangs. Break the routine with muscle movements or relaxation techniques as needed.