How to Control Food Cravings During Stressful Workdays


We’ve all been there: a deadline is looming, your inbox is overflowing, and the stress of the workday is starting to mount. Suddenly, that vending machine snack or sugary coffee drink seems like the perfect quick fix to power through the afternoon. 

But are these cravings truly helping us, or are they doing more harm than good? Finding it difficult to control food cravings??

Stressful workdays can trigger intense food cravings, especially for sugary and high-carb snacks. According to a survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 74% of Indian office workers experience regular stress, and 60% report stress-related food cravings. Understanding how to manage these cravings can help improve your work performance and well-being.

In this blog, we’ll explore the nature of food cravings, why they intensify during stressful workdays, and how to control food cravings

Hunger Decoded: What Is Your Body Asking For? 

The Biology of Cravings

Food cravings, especially for sugary and high-carb snacks, are common during stressful times. When we are stressed, our bodies create cortisol, a hormone that increases hunger and makes us crave comfort foods. This is a natural response, as our brains seek quick energy sources to deal with perceived threats. 

However, indulging in these cravings often leads to a cycle of energy spikes and crashes, ultimately leaving us feeling more tired and less focused.

Emotional and Psychological Triggers

Apart from biological factors, emotional and psychological triggers play a significant role in food cravings. Stress, anxiety, and even boredom can lead to emotional eating. Understanding these triggers is crucial in managing cravings effectively. 

Keeping a dietary record might help you uncover patterns and causes for emotional eating.

Control Cravings and Optimize Health

  1. Eat Balanced Meals: Start your day with a nutritious breakfast with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This sets the tone for stable blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of mid-morning hunger pangs. For instance, a breakfast of eggs, avocado, and whole-grain toast can provide sustained energy throughout the morning.
  1. Stay Hydrated: Often, what we perceive as hunger is dehydration. Keep a water bottle at your desk and aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. Adding slices of lemon or cucumber can make plain water more appealing. According to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, drinking water can stimulate metabolism by up to 30% for about an hour.
  1. Healthy Snacking: Prepare healthy snacks in advance to avoid reaching for unhealthy options. Nuts, seeds, fruits, and yogurt are excellent choices that provide nutrients without causing dramatic blood sugar spikes. For example, keeping a container of almonds at your desk can help you stay full between meals. 
  1. Mindful Eating: Mindful eating involves paying attention to your hunger indications and eating slowly. This prevents overeating and allows you to enjoy your meals more. Try to eat away from your desk, if possible, to create a distinct break in your workday. Techniques such as chewing slowly and savoring each bite can make a significant difference.
  1. Stress Management Techniques: Incorporate stress-relief activities into your daily routine. Simple techniques like deep breathing, stretching, or a short walk can reduce stress levels and curb cravings. Regular physical activity, such as a midday workout, can boost endorphins and reduce stress-related hunger. 
  1. Plan Your Meals: Planning your meals and snacks ahead of time can prevent impulsive eating. Bring your lunch and snacks from home to control portions and ensure you’re eating nutritious foods. Meal preps on weekends can save time and reduce the temptation to order takeout during busy workdays.

Bonus Tip: Prioritize Healthy Sleep for Craving Control

Sleep is a secret weapon against cravings. Aim for 7-8 hours of decent sleep per night. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, the hunger hormone, which causes you to seek more food even when you aren’t hungry. At the same time, leptin, the satiety hormone that signifies fullness, decreases. This combined impact can result in overeating.

Lack of sleep also boosts stress hormones like cortisol, which trigger cravings for sugary comfort foods. Adequate sleep regulates ghrelin and leptin, reduces stress hormones, and strengthens impulse control, making healthy choices easier. 

Develop a consistent sleep schedule, wind down with calming activities before bed, optimize your sleep environment, limit caffeine and alcohol, and get regular exercise (not too close to bedtime) to create healthy sleep habits and conquer cravings.

How to Control food cravings

  • Create a schedule: Draft a daily schedule that includes meal times, snack breaks, and periods for physical activity. This can help ensure you stick to your healthy eating plan and incorporate regular movement into your day.
  • Use technology: There are numerous apps available that can help you track your food intake, water consumption, and physical activity. Utilizing these tools can provide additional motivation and accountability.
  • Engage with a Community: Join a community of like-minded individuals who are also looking to improve their eating habits and manage stress. Sharing experiences and tips can be incredibly supportive and motivating.

Conclusion: how to control food cravings

Controlling food cravings during stressful workdays is not just about willpower, it’s about understanding the triggers and implementing practical strategies to manage them. By eating balanced meals, staying hydrated, choosing healthy snacks, practicing mindful eating, managing stress, and planning your meals, you can maintain steady energy levels and improve your overall productivity.

For more in-depth strategies for maintaining nutrition during workdays, consider joining our Workday Nutrition Webinar. You’ll gain insights into how to optimize your diet for peak performance and learn more about managing stress through proper nutrition.

By making these small, manageable changes, you can break free from the cycle of cravings and enjoy sustained energy throughout your workday.

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