Whether you're hoping to lose weight or just want to be healthier, those little cravings that sneak up on you often prove your downfall. However, there are tips and tricks to help tame your appetite - here's how.
Say no to cereal
Many see cereal as a healthy breakfast option, but the truth is they are often loaded with salt and sugar, and processing means any nutrients that were there are likely long gone.
Instead, make yourself a warming bowl of low GI porridge with fresh, healthy fruit, for a slow release brekkie that'll stave off the mid-morning cravings too. Alternatively, benefit from protein, fat and good cholesterol by going to work on an egg.
Choose chocolate carefully
A recent survey found that those who allow themselves the odd treat here and there are far more likely to shed pounds than those that go cold turkey. Choosing the right type of chocolate will let you do just that without sending you into a sugary calorie overload. Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (85 per cent or above), for instance, affords you a serious choccie hit but you're unlikely to chomp down the whole bar. Alternatively, mix your chocolate with something healthier. Try dipping a banana or piece of fruit in chocolate sauce, or grab a handful of chocolate chips mixed with unsalted nuts.
Ice cream alternative
If your first port of call after a long day at work is the freezer, it's time to rethink your frozen favourites. Swap your ice cream and fro-yo for frozen fruit that can then be whizzed in a blender for a healthier cold treat. Bananas are particularly good for these purposes as you'll get a creamier texture, and you can always add a few chocolate chips to give you that sugar hit. Alternatively, make a smoothie in the morning and pour into ice lolly moulds for a fruity freeze pop.
For some, it's not chocolate and ice cream that gets the pulse racing but sweeties. As colourfully appealing as they are, the sugar, artificial colours and flavourings packed into the average packet of sweets might boost your mood, but it will be short lived and inevitably leads to a post sugar high slump.
Once again, fruit could be the solution. A handful of frozen berries or dried mango or pineapple is a healthier way to get your sweetness. And if that doesn't do the trick, try making your own treats by using fresh fruit and fruit juice mixed with unsweetened gelatine for a homemade alternative.
Break things up
Whether it's mid-morning or mid-afternoon, it's those between meals hunger pangs that often send us running for the vending machine. But such moments can be easily avoided if you break up your meals.
It's no secret that eating little and often makes dieting easier, so why not keep something back for those little slumps. For instance, eat your porridge for breakfast but keep the fruit pieces for a mid-morning snack, or enjoy some whole grain toast first thing, but leave the yoghurt for later. You can easily do the same at lunch, particularly if you bring your own.
And if all else fails, battle those cravings by walking away. Instead of letting the hunger take hold, head out to the park, get some fresh air, and take your mind off food altogether.
What do you do to curb your cravings? Let us know below...