Food is the fuel that keeps the human body going, but at what point does it become dangerous? Most of us crave for one certain thing and wish we could eat without stopping, be it chocolate, cake, meat or even honey. Whatever your favorite food may be, there is a limit when it comes to the amount you can consume. This is not just because your stomach is full, but also because having too much can cause lifestyle diseases, addiction and obesity. When you reach that state, the problems turn in to how to stop thinking about food because it is never that easy once you get addicted.
It is not easy to stop thinking about food because life revolves around mealtime, planning for eating, feeling guilty after eating, and fantasizing about food. People tend to obsess about food because of what it does to their bodies.
16 Ways to Help You Stop Thinking About Food
In most cases, body weight and size reflect a person’s choices when it comes to food. If you want your body to appear a certain way, you have to be conscious about the kinds of foods you consume and what time.
1. Give Your Body Enough Food
Don’t overthink it. Sometimes food cravings could just be telling you that you are not giving your body enough food. The logical thing to do is ensure your body is getting enough by eliminating any limitations you may have set for food. It does not matter whether you are counting calories or not because our bodies are different in terms of the energy levels they need and how they use it (6).
2. Have a Good Fun Food Ratio
It is recommended that your diet should be made of 80-90% healthy foods. The remaining 10-20% should be the fun food you crave for most such as processed foods. Maintaining that ration potentially trains you to improve your attitude towards eating. The point here is to tell your mind that there are no forbidden foods; thus, you don’t have to overthink which foods to avoid.
3. Allow Yourself More Non-Food Pleasures
If eating is the only thing you enjoy doing, then there is no way you will be able to stop thinking about food. The remedy for this could be engaging in more non-food pleasures, whatever they may be. Many other things are rewarding, and by embracing them, you get other things to think about when bored other than food. Some perfect examples of non-food pleasures can be:
- Trying out a new sport
- Learning a new language
- Start reading more (2)
4. Avoiding Hyper-Palatable Foods
The increase of hyper-palatable processed food items is believed to be the major cause of obesity. These foods have large amounts of fat, sugar and salt. When those things are combined, the resulting taste combo physiologically stimulates hunger hormones even when the body’s caloric needs have been met.
Most naturally occurring foods are not hyper-palatable save for breast milk. Hyper-palatable foods work similarly as drug addiction because the combination of flavours in hyper-palatable foods triggers endorphins release. In particular, it is a large dopamine response which encourages you to eat the same food again.
If you are addicted to hyper-palatable foods, how do you manage to stay away from them? Start by asking yourself if you actually feel hungry whenever you have a food craving. You’d be surprised to learn that most of the time you crave for food when you are actually not hungry.
Once you have established how you truly feel when you have food cravings, you are ready for the next step, changing habits. Most people are preoccupied with food because they are engaging in what can be referred to as emotional eating (8).
5. Replacing Emotional Eating With A Hobby
Emotional eating is when you are eating not because you are hungry, but because it is a way of distracting yourself from something else. The best way to know the feelings that bring about food cravings is by starting a journal in which you record your feelings before and after eating. Whenever food cravings start, and you are not hungry, you need to reference your journal entries to promote personal awareness concerning food.
What remains now is replacing emotional eating with an enjoyable activity such as exercise, music or art. This is meant to establish a new activity to draw pleasure from, and with the time, you will find yourself shifting your habits (1).
6. Re-Training The Brain
Ever wanted to know how to stop thinking about food when not hungry? It is the brain that controls all your impulses, and as a result, it can be trained to stop thinking about food all the time. This is referred to as psychological reframing, and its purpose is to elicit change.
This also goes hand in hand with attitude change because the only way to succeed is by shifting your perception from “I can’t eat this food” to something like “I choose not to eat this food because I know I deserve a healthy body and eating it will only make me feel bad.” Such simple drills will go a long way in re-training your brain to think about food healthily (10).
7. Recognize That It Is Only A Thought Hence You Don’t Have To Attach To It
If you attach yourself to thought, it is likely to affect you, and you will follow it up with an action that satisfies your perceived need. You can accept that your food obsession is only a thought you have to let pass and observe. The more you do this, the more you will be training the brain to ignore those thoughts that will tempt you into actions that may not be beneficial to you.
When you do not attach yourself to the thought of food over and over again, eventually you will find yourself being able to ignore the urge to eat. However, please don’t make the mistake of ignoring the urge to eat even when you are physically hungry because it will only defeat the purpose. Under-eating always leads to over-eating, and you will find yourself where you started.
8. Eat More High-Protein Meals and Snacks
The feeling of hunger is regulated by a section of the brain called the hypothalamus. This brain section considers several variables before deciding when and how much food one needs, and then it is communicated through cravings, hunger pangs or even wandering thoughts of food.
The hormones in our stomachs decrease or increase as a response to eating, and this is one of the most important factors when it comes to triggering hunger in the brain. When you replace carbohydrates and foods containing high-fat with protein-packed snacks, the hunger hormones are reduced and instead you will increase the release of satiety hormones (3).
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9. Eat Smaller Meals More Frequently
It may appear to make little sense that for one to stop thinking about food as a way to reduce food consumption, he/she has to eat more food. Ever wondered how to stop thinking about food while dieting? The notion of many smaller meals is not to increase the intake of calories but rather to spread out the calories in smaller batches over shorter intervals.
Consuming smaller meals or snacks at an increased frequency can aid in reducing wandering thoughts of food. If your schedule only allows for a big breakfast, you skip lunch as you wait for a large supper, and then there is no way you will prevent yourself from thinking about food throughout the day. When you eat smaller meals or snacks at intervals of about 1-2 hours, the body will be provided with a steady and constant calories supply. As a result, constant food cravings will be reduced.
10. Drink More Water
This is one of the best ways on how to stop feeling hungry without necessarily eating. Drinking more water has an important role in reducing hunger pangs, resulting in the control of food cravings, albeit for a short period of time. By drinking a lot of water, there is a big impact on the brain and your stomach’s mental and physiological link.
The consumption of increased water levels can temporarily increase the hormones that make you feel full, such as peptide YY, GLP-1 and cholecystokinin. When a significant amount of fluids hit the stomach, they stimulate the increase of those hormones. This works by tricking your brain into thinking that you have consumed food (11).
This simple trick is effective, but it is only a temporary solution. To sustain it longer, drink water periodically and in proper amounts. It will reduce the prolonged wanderings and cravings for food. However, this is not to say that you should replace your meals with food. Find a good balance between the two, and you will find yourself not thinking about food anymore. If you are wondering how to stop thinking about food while fasting, then water could be the answer you have been looking for all along.
11. Do Not Multitask When Eating
Multitasking is a great way to get things done especially when on a busy schedule but try not to do the same with eating. This is because you will not be fully focused on what you are eating, making it difficult for your body to register that you are full or not. The outcome of this is accidental or unconscious overeating because you won’t be noticing yourself wanting to eat when you are not hungry.
Eating should be done slowly while you consciously check in with your body to see if you are still hungry or not. If you are no longer hungry, then you stop eating and wait until you feel hungry again. If you are not sure that you are hungry or not, the best thing to do is drink a glass of water before eating (4).
12. Be Conscious About Your Choice of Snacks
If you are aware that you are obsessed with food just because you are stressed, make sure that you have healthier snacks that are more filling. These should help you to deal with any stress-related hunger pangs. Top on the list of things to avoid are foods that are sugary and empty of calories. Take a fruit such as an apple and something like a cheese stick, and you should be good to go.
Stop keeping junk food in the house, and this will do much to help you fight your cravings. Don’t eat just because you are bored or emotional. Having your fridge filled with unhealthy foods does not help either. Eliminating the processed food from your fridge will stop you from heading there in the first place whenever you crave for food. You may go to the fridge but then won’t find a sweet treat there, and with the time you will have gotten used to not thinking about food all the time (7).
13. Plan Your Meals
Planning meals is underrated, but it can be very effective when it comes to stopping to think about food all the time. It takes off the burden of not being able to make up your mind on what to eat and at what time. Plan meals for the day and if possible for the entire week. When you already have an idea of what you will be eating, you do away with the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty. By not thinking about what to eat at the next meal, you reduce the chances of being tempted and lower the likelihood of experiencing cravings.
14. Fight Stress
Stress is a major trigger when it comes to food cravings. It also contributes to influencing and shaping our eating habits and behaviours. This is worse with women because they tend to eat more calories when under stress. In addition to that, stress can raise cortisol blood levels. This is a hormone responsible for gaining weight around the belly area in many people.
Being overweight will only make a person more conscious about food in terms of the diet, amount and so on. However, if you do not fight stress, you will not stop food craving and may lead to other secondary effects that you have to deal with. You can deal with stress by meditating and planning among many other things (5).
15. Get Enough Sleep
A person’s appetite is, to a large extent, a product of hormones that keep fluctuating throughout the day. When a person does not get enough sleep, it disrupts the fluctuations, and this causes poor appetite regulation and strong cravings. That is why people who are deprived of sleep are at more risk of becoming obese than people who get adequate sleep. For that reason, it is imperative to get adequate sleep as a way of preventing cravings for food (9).
16. Exercise But Without Viewing Food As A Reward
There is no better way on how to stop thinking about food and lose weight than involving yourself in regular workouts. Exercising is important not only because it gets your body into good shape but also keeps you distracted from thinking about food. A healthy lifestyle is a combination of things, including diet and workout. The biggest mistake you can make is to think of food as a reward. This will not just frustrate the efforts to achieve your body goals; it will make it worse.
You jog for half an hour, and immediately you get home you think you have earned the right to eat whatever you feel like. It may be true that with regular exercise you can eat without having to worry about gaining weight. If you skip a day without exercising, you will be anxious about what to eat in an attempt to restrict your calorie intake. This will result in feelings of deprivation (12).
The only way you could know how to stop thinking about food is by first accepting that you have a problem and then facing it head-on. After all, the reason you could be thinking about food all day is that you have a problem with it. Once you have accepted that it is a problem, then the next thing is to start looking for solutions. The journey of putting a stop to thinking about food will be a difficult one because it means breaking up the relationship between food and whatever brings such thoughts.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
Reviewed by: Soraya Ziou
- Emotional Eating (2020, medicinenet.com)
- Health and Pleasure in Consumers’ Dietary Food Choices: Individual Differences in the Brain’s Value System (2016, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- High-Protein Diet for Weight Loss (2020, webmd.com)
- Hunger games: Do you know why you eat? (2019,mayoclinic.org)
- Learn to manage stress (2020, medlineplus.gov)
- Make 2020 the Year of Less Sugar (2019, nytimes.com)
- Mindful snacking at home (2020, mayoclinic.org)
- Palatable Hyper-Caloric Foods Impact on Neuronal Plasticity (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Sleep and your health (2018,medlineplus.gov)
- The Healthy Brain Initiative (2007,cdc.gov)
- What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Enough Water? (2019,webmd.com)
- What is healthy living? (2019, medicinenet.com)