Give a man a burger to make his belly happy and a woman some chocolate: It may sound cliché or stereotypical, but there’s actual science to back up the gender division when it comes to sweet and savory cravings. Several studies show men report more cravings for savory foods, like meat and eggs; women report sweeter cravings, like chocolate and ice cream, according to a research review published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. Cravings also hit women more than men: Scientists in France analyzed the food diaries of more than 1,000 men and women and found twice as many women had food cravings than men.
Another difference in the great gender divide: It’s harder for a woman to control herself when chocolate calls her name. In one study, 50 percent of men said it was “easy” for them to resist cravings, compared to only 20 percent of women.
Hormones, mood and many other factors play into why men and women crave differently. But there are things anyone can do to keep both sweet and savory cravings under control.
Here are five tips to help curb sweet and savory cravings:
1. Eat balanced meals.
That means including lean proteins, healthy carbs and high-fiber foods into your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack to keep you feeling full and satisfied all day. When you eat a variety of foods, your body gets the nutrients it needs for fuel, and you’re less likely to give into cravings at night. Spend time planning ahead and grocery shopping for the week to make nutritious meals. Or, try Nutrisystem. A team of nutrition experts and dietitians designed Nutrisystem meal plans that are balanced, include a variety of your favorite foods and focus on smaller meals, more often, to keep you full. Learn more here >
2. Keep a craving journal.
Jot down the time of day when your cravings started, the food you wanted and how you handled it. That way you can see if your cravings follow any patterns so you can better prepare yourself next time one hits.
3. Walk off a craving.
Or work on a hobby or call a friend to chat. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, sometimes a craving may not be actual hunger, but maybe you’re feeling bored or lonely. When an intense craving hits, take a minute to think about what else you might be needing at that time.
4. Take a bite, then wait.
It may sound strange, but research shows it works. When you’re wanting a piece of pie or bag of chips, go for it—but take only one bite. A study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference found people who are smaller portions of commonly craved foods were just as satisfied as those who ate a larger portion of the same food. Cravings also dropped significantly 15 minutes after eating, whether they ate a little or a lot.
5. Customize your Nutrisystem menu.
Another way to satisfy a sweet tooth or salt craving without overloading on calories: Nutrisystem snacks. From chocolate brownie sundaes to cookies, cheese puffs to popcorn, you can shop A La Carte for perfectly-portioned, low-calorie snacks that won’t sabotage your weight loss. Or, consider customizing your next Nutrisystem order so that it’s packed with foods sure to satisfy those cravings and keep you on plan.