How to manage hunger, control cravings, & stop snacking

  • by
Proven methods for managing hunger, controlling cravings, and avoiding snacking on keto and low carb diets
Share
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on reddit
Reddit
Share on email
Email
Share on print
Print

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost or effort to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through the link and make a purchase.

Intense cravings, false hunger, and bordem. What do they have in common? They can all lead to mindless snacking, a bad habit that can really derail you as you try to reach your weight loss goals.

Struggling with cravings and trying to fight hunger is not a fun battle. As someone who struggled most of my life with trying not to overeat, I know that eventually, hunger wins. 

The other day I decided to ask my Instagram and Twitter gang if there is anything they struggle with that is keeping them from reaching their goals on a low carb or keto diet, and it quickly became apparent that many of us share a common struggle.

We are hungry, we have cravings, we can’t stop snacking. Even when we don’t need to!

Mindless snacking is something we have all done and it is almost always an emotional event done out of boredom. 

Even if you feel hungry, you are rarely actually hungry, (this is an important distinction) but there is a bowl of goodies lying out, you are bored at home, or the thought of your favourite treat is just too much to ignore.

Next thing you know, you’re elbows deep in a jar of almonds, or a fistful of fat bombs, and you have completely blown out your day, all for something you didn’t really need to eat in the first place. Oh, and on top of that you are still bored. 

Hands up if you have had a day like that. 

This common problem isn’t going away either, as keto and low carb diets rise in popularity, so do the options. You no longer have to go to specialty low carb grocers to get ready-made, easily available, hyper-palatable, keto friendly treats. 

Even big brand stores now carry keto cookies, pre-made fat bombs, and every low carb bar you can imagine. With these options at our finger tips, it is easier than ever to go on a snack bender, and trick ourselves into thinking its okay simply because its low carb. 

Soon you have the same problem you were having before keto. You know, the one that caused you to gain all the weight in the first place, your are overeating, but instead you are overeating keto friendly foods. 

Overeating low carb food is still overeating. 

Since I myself face the exact same problem, I am sharing with you my top proven methods for controlling your hunger, managing your cravings, and hopefully help you overcome the emotional urge to binge on snacks, and stick to your keto diet.

8 proven methods for managing cravings and controlling snacking on a low carb or keto diet

  • Are you actually hungry? – Eat a meal. Don’t want a meal? You’re not hungry
  • Have a glass of water, tea, or coffee – distract your hands and deal with cravings 
  • Have some electrolytes – it may be what your body is asking for
  • Be active – Go for a walk, entertain yourself, be productive
  • Snack Wisely – satisfy the urge with low impact foods
  • Don’t over deny yourself – it’s ok the treat yourself occasionally
  • Don’t buy bingeable snack foods – you can’t eat what isn’t there
  • Brush your teeth – a clean minty mouth is a great deterrent 

1. Are you actually hungry for a good reason?

Think about what else you have had to eat today? Have you eaten enough? Mindlessly snacking is not the answer to actual hunger. Eating intentionally is. There is a big difference. 

Intentionally sitting, and eating a meal, portioning the food out onto a plate, is far easier to control than an open bag of almonds, or pork rinds. We want to avoid mindless eating, and eat intentionally to address actual hunger. 

Hungry? Eat a meal. Don’t want a meal? You aren’t hungry. 

There is a chance that you are reaching for snacks because you actually need to eat. Take a look at what else you ate recently. Did you eat enough? Even if weight loss is your goal, it is important to still make sure you are eating at least enough food per day. 

Weight loss is a journey

Weight Loss is not a race, it is a journey. I know getting to the destination as quickly as possible is exciting, but you want to lose weight at a steady pace in a sustainable way. You are trying to build a long term lifestyle here. 

Even if you are only using keto short term, you still want to positively change your relationship with food, and change your eating habits for the better. Otherwise you will end up right back where you started. 

Crash dieting leads to a crash.  Have you ever heard the best diet is one you stick to? You don’t want to make your diet so hard on yourself that you can’t stick to it, and you give up altogether. 

Or even worse, you crash so hard you end up worse off than when you started. 

Long term changes require long term effort. You don’t win any points by getting there in a hurry and it can actually make adherence and commitment harder. There are already some difficult obstacles in your way to changing how you eat, don’t create an unnecessary one for yourself.

Other reasons you may not be eating enough

It is very common for your hunger to become suppressed in the early stages of a keto diet but it is still important to eat enough.

The use of MCT oil, which is common with some ketoers, can also heavily suppress your appetite. Again, it is still important to make sure you are eating enough.

Take it easy and be smart, that way you can enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. 

2. Have a glass of water, tea, or coffee

Having a glass of water, coffee, or tea will distract your hands as well as fulfill some of the urges you are having to snack. Next time you are feeling snacky, grab a glass of water, and sip it for a while. You don’t need to chug it, just enjoy a glass of water. 

There is a good chance that it will either get rid of those munchies, or distract you enough to forget about it.

Craving something sweet? Try herbal tea

Having some carb free herbal tea that has a bit of sweetness is an effective calorie free way to curb those cravings. There are plenty of fruity, or flower flavoured herbal teas available at your grocery store you can sip away on without guilt. 

A hot drink, it will occupy your hands, and mouth for sometime, and by the time you are done sipping away, that urge to snack is long gone. There are some teas out there that do contain a small amount of calories and carbs, so as usual always check your labels first.

That being said, no one becomes overweight because they drank some tea.

3. Get some electrolytes

It is very common when following a low carb or keto diet to become deficient in “The Big 3 electrolytes” (Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium) if you are not making some effort to replenish them.

This is often the cause of the dreaded “keto flu” which is more accurately, an electrolyte deficiency that can effect many people, especially in the early stages of keto. There are however, other possible side effects of low electrolytes that may be the cause of that snacky feeling that just won’t go away. 

It’s possible that your body is getting low on electrolytes and it’s asking you to replenish them with food.

Your body is very good at regulating it’s Sodium intake. If you are starting to get low on Sodium, your brain tells you “Hey, you need some more Sodium!” and how does it know how to get Sodium? Salt. How do you normally get salt? Food.

Your brain is associating eating food with how the body gets electrolytes, so its saying “Do that eating thing you do where the body gets the electrolytes it needs.” 

If you give your body the electrolytes it is asking for, sans the food, that craving might just go away, and you can avoid a unnecessary snacking.

How to replenish electrolytes without food

You can use a keto friendly electrolyte replenishment supplements, but in my experience most of the electrolyte supplements on the market have pitiful amounts of Sodium and Potassium in them, and very few have a bio-available forms of magnesium in them.

It’s also an added cost, and extra supplement to buy when you can just have some salt. Adding a pinch of salt to a glass of water or making what is commonly referred to as ketoade can effectively replenish your electrolyte levels, and make that craving go away.

Ketoade is really just some salt water. For many it is an effective means of getting in their electrolytes on the keto diet.

 Anytime I feel I may need a little shot of electrolytes, or I am experiencing any of the effects of the dreaded keto flu. I am not shy about reaching for some electrolyte replenishing ketoade.

How to make ketoade to replenish electrolytes

  • 16-20 oz water
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp half salt/lite salt
  • Squeeze of lemon juice or Mio
  • Ice

 

Combine well. Drink slow. 

Lite salt, Lo salt or Half Salt, as it is called in Canada, is roughly half Sodium Chloride (NaCl) and half Potassium Chloride (KCl) which is great for replenishing both your Potassium and Sodium levels (obviously) at the same time.

Table salt, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt is Sodium Chloride (NaCl), so while it is great for getting sodium, it will not help you with potassium, or magnesium. 

It is recommended that you sip your electrolytes over a longer period of time, maybe an hour or so, you shouldn’t chug them. Consuming a large amount of electrolytes all at once like this can pull water into your intestine cause some severe and sudden diarrhea.

Although spending an afternoon on the porcelain throne will definitely keep you from snacking, this guide contains many better, more appealing methods you can use to stop snacking…

4. Be Active - Go for a walk, entertain yourself, be productive

Don’t just sit around, doing nothing, thinking about how you want to eat snacks. Recognize that you are not actually hungry, but are bored. Get up, be active, just do something.

This is a strategy I often use at work, especially useful around lunch time on a fasting day. It is rare that I actually get hungry on a IF or OMAD day, but every once in a while the smell of a colleagues food stirs up some cravings.

Getting up from my desk and just going for a walk around the office, using my lunch break to run errands, or getting away from the office distracts me enough to avoid reaching for those office doughnuts I don’t need.

Find something to entertain you until the cravings go away. Don’t let food be your entertainment.

Even just getting up and doing something feels refreshing sometimes and flushes away that boredom induced urge to snack.

Pick up your toys

Why not kill two birds with one stone and go clean something? Tidy up your desk, clean the kitchen, sweep the chimney, whatever you have been putting off.

Not only will you distract yourself from your false hunger and cravings, you are being productive. The sense of accomplishment you get may be even more satisfying than whatever you were going to mindlessly munch on.

5. Snack wisely - satisfy your urges with low impact foods

There are times when you just need something to munch on. You’re watching a movie with friends and everyone is snacking, maybe the rest of the family is having a treat and you want some munchies as well.

Go ahead and have a snack, but do it wisely.

Many people reach for nuts, cheese, and nut butters when they are feeling the munchies, and I can’t blame them, these are a few of my favourite things. But these are very energy dense, hyper-palatable foods, and it is too easy to overeat them. A handful of nuts can be too much and how often do we ever have just a handful?

 Remember, we have already established at this point that we aren’t actually hungry, so we just need something to fight off that urge without that won’t have too much of an impact.

Instead, try reaching for a low impact snack. Something really low in carbs and calories that will satisfy your cravings without throwing you off course. 

Some of my top low Impact keto snack foods:

 

All the yum, none of the guilt

These snacks have been a god send for helping satisfy cravings without causing major damage to  progress. 

Sugar free jello in particular is amazing if you are looking for a low carb, low calorie, low impact sweet treat. Make some Jello few hours before bed, and enjoy all you want. Even if you eat a whole pack, its 40 calories total, and no carbs. 

On top of that, foods like pickles and olives help replenish your electrolytes without having to supplement. We are getting good at killing multiple birds with these stones. 

6. Don't over deny yourself - it's ok to treat yourself occasionally

It’s ok the feel hungry sometimes. It’s also ok to enjoy food sometimes.

You can have a snack every once in a while. This comes back to sustainability. You don’t want to make this so hard on yourself that you slip back into old habits and quit. 

Sometimes it’s ok to have a snack. But just remember to snack wisely. Snack on something that will scratch that itch, and make this lifestyle more enjoyable, instead of letting that itch grow so much it completely derails you. 

Maybe it’s your favourite keto treat, a low damage snack, or a small bit of the low carb leftovers you have been eyeing in the fridge. 

If indulging like that every once in a while allows you to maintain your low carb diet longer and reach your goals rather than giving up due to insatiable hunger, then go for it.

The better you are able to adhere to your diet, the better your results will be. Again, the best diet is the one you stick to. 

7. Don't buy bingeable snacks - you can't eat what isn't there

Not having foods around that you can easily snack on decreases the likelihood that you will have an uncontrollable snack binge. 

It is helpful when starting a keto diet to make sure that the house is free of non-keto friendly food items so the temptation to break your diet is not there. 

Instead, buy ingredients, food that needs you to intentionally prepare it before you eat it. Think about it. You walk into the kitchen and there is a bag of low carb brownies sitting there, or, you walk into the kitchen and there are the ingredients to make low carb brownies.

It is much less likely that you are going to absentmindedly bake a batch of brownies than it is that you would grab a fudgey ready made brownie, and pop it in your mouth in 0.8 seconds flat. You have to be pretty intentional to prepare and cook something. Whereas grabbing something ready made can be a completely mindless act.

Over snacking on low carb foods can still be a problem if you can’t control it. If there are certain foods or snacks, low carb or not, that you just can’t stop eating, then it is wise to abstain from purchasing those for a while, and not have them in the house. 

For me, it was peanut butter. I freaking LOVE PEANUT BUTTER. There is a 100% chance that if there was a jar of peanut butter in the house, I was eating it by the spoonful, literally. 

I just kept telling myself that I would not do that with the next jar. But as long as there was a jar of peanut butter in the house, I was eating it off a spoon. It made weight loss a challenge.  

This type of snacking is one of the main reasons I switched from lazy keto, to strict keto for weight loss. Once peanut butter was identified as a main culprit, thanks to my food tracker, I stopped buying it for a while.

Find out more about Strict vs. Lazy keto, and how to use them effectively

Make Every Bite Count & Count Every Bite

One month on, one month off

One month I would not buy peanut butter, the next month I would. This meant that I either couldn’t have it because it wasn’t there, and therefore I couldn’t binge on it. (remember the science)

Or, I knew I only had what was left in the cupboard to last for the next 4 weeks, and therefore, if I still wanted to enjoy my favourite treat during that time, I had to enjoy it in moderation. AKA, not impulsively off a spoon….

This was actually one of the most helpful methods for changing my relationship with food. If I wanted peanut butter, I needed to eat it sparingly because there wasn’t more coming in any time soon. 

This method kept me from over indulging, and over denying myself at the same time. 

This tip is so effective at controlling my snacking, I wouldn’t be surprised if peanut butter sales in the GTA took a hit once I started doing this! (kidding…sort of)

Seriously though, it taught me moderation, and moderation helps with sustainability. In case you hadn’t caught on yet, sustainability is a big thing with me, and it should be with you too. 

Any of this sound familiar? Any snacks you can think of that you can just eat and eat regardless of hunger? Stop buying them.

This strategy might be just the one to help you build a healthy relationship with it and enjoy it in moderation. 

8. Brush your teeth - a clean, minty mouth is a great deterrent

Especially effective for stopping late night snacking, brushing your teeth can really discourage you from popping that extra bite in your mouth before bed. 

Having that clean, minty feeling in your mouth not only affects the taste of food making eating less appealing. But you are less likely to grab the extra impulsive bit of food if you just brushed your teeth. 

Now, if you find that you are doing this many many times per day, it may be worth looking into one of the other methods mentioned in this guide. 

You don’t want this to result in overbrushing which can actually cause damage to your teeth and gums.

Solving a problem by creating a new one isn’t ideal.

But if that last trip into the kitchen before bed is causing a problem. Try brushing your teeth for the night before you head into the kitchen for your glass of water. 

You will be less likely to grab that unnecessary bedtime snack out of the fridge, or that spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar for no reason.

Now you know my snacking secrets

These are time tested, proven methods for controlling hunger, avoiding over-snacking, and helping you build a healthy relationship with food, so that you can reach your weight loss goals.

These are methods I have actually used to find weight loss success on a low carb, keto diet. Not only were they helpful to me on my weight loss journey, these tips continue to help me almost every day in maintaining my weight, controlling my cravings, and keeping the mindless snacking to a minimum.

So here is my challenge to you

Next time you get the urge to mindlessly toss a handful of food into your snack hole, I want you to run through this quick list again.

  • Are you actually hungry? – Eat a meal. Don’t want a meal? You’re not hungry
  • Have a glass of water, tea, or coffee – distract your hands and deal with cravings 
  • Have some electrolytes – it may be what your body is asking for
  • Be active – Go for a walk, entertain yourself, be productive
  • Snack Wisely – satisfy the urge with low impact foods
  • Don’t over deny yourself – it’s ok the treat yourself occasionally
  • Don’t buy bingeable snack foods – you can’t eat what isn’t there
  • Brush your teeth – a clean minty mouth is a great deterrent 

Give these a try until you find some that are effective at helping you manage your hunger, and control your snacking on keto.

Having tools like this at your disposal s instrumental in helping you achieve, and maintain your weight loss goals on keto, or any other diet for that matter.

Tell me all your secrets

Ok maybe not all of them, but do you have a method or technique to add the the list that you used to help you reach your goals on a keto or low carb diet?

I would love to hear from you!

Comment down below, find me on social media, join my mailing list down below. 

Learning from the experience of others is beyond valuable, you have been there and you know how you did it. Share that with the rest of the gang so that we can all reach our goals together.

Now tell me your problems

I want to hear about what you need help with. What is holding you back from reaching your goals on a keto or low carb diet?

You can leave a comment on the tweet, you can also click the image of the tweet at the top of this page. If you follow me on Instagram, I frequently ask the gang questions like this on my story (that how this all happened) and you can reply right there, and hopefully learn something that can help you directly.

Or join the gang and sign up for the email list right below! I am just on the other side of the reply button whenever you need me, plus you’ll get really awesome stuff right to your inbox

Something yummy in your inbox

Join our gang and get yummy low carb recipes and helpful tips delivered right to your fingertips
Sender.net email marketing
The Low Carb Grocery

Did you find this helpful?

Help get the word out and share this with someone you think may find it helpful as well. It really is appreciated. 

Take a second to share:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on print

Leave a Reply