How to Stop Craving Potato Chips

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Small plate filled with potato chips.
Small plate filled with potato chips. (Image: Piotr Krześlak/iStock/Getty Images)

Don’t give up if your craving for potato chips gets the better of you every time you try to stop. Food cravings are intense and complex. It’s often hard to figure out why you crave chips because many factors come into play, such as your mood, environment and possibly your overall nutritional status. After you learn what triggers it, you can devise a plan to extinguish a potato chip craving.

Look for a Pattern

Keep a journal for a week, noting when you crave potato chips, what is happening and how you feel at that moment. The goal is to determine whether a mood, emotion or event triggers your desire to eat chips because they’re often behind food cravings, according to a 2007 report in the “Proceedings of the Nutrition Society.” You can then devise alternatives to help you fight the urge. For example, if your journal shows you reach for chips when you’re under extreme stress, replace eating chips with relaxation techniques such as listening to music, deep breathing or meditation.

Find Healthy Alternatives

One good way to fight a potato chip craving is to replace the chips with foods that are similar yet more nutritious. Look for crunchy, carbohydrate replacements that are lower in fat and calories, such as butter-free popcorn, whole-grain crackers or whole-wheat pretzels. When you’re tempted to grab for a bag of chips, exercise instead of eating. Whether you do 15 minutes of yoga or go for a walk, the exercise helps you push past the craving without indulging. Crunchy foods make you more alert, so if you eat chips when you're tired, try munching on raw fruits and vegetables. For cravings triggered by emotions, such as boredom or loneliness, call a friend or find an activity to distract you from eating.

Review Your Diet

Some cravings are triggered by a nutritional need, but potato chips aren’t known as go-to foods for nutrients. Even if they’re salty, very few people are low in sodium, so you probably don’t need extra salt. However, food cravings are also associated with food restriction, and you're more likely to crave the foods you're trying to avoid, according to a study in the June 2012 issue of “Appetite.” If you fit this category, you may get rid of the craving by occasionally eating potato chips, especially if you indulge before it becomes an irresistible craving. You can stay within calorie goals by limiting the amount you eat and choosing low-fat chips.

Other Tips to Try

Low blood sugar may make you crave carbohydrates. If you eat smaller meals more frequently, your blood sugar will stay balanced and your cravings may go down. Buy single-serving bags of potato chips to make it easy to limit your serving size when you indulge the craving. The University of Rochester Medical Center also warns that dehydration may cause a food craving, so be sure you get enough water throughout the day. Finally, stop thinking about potato chips. Focus on music, a beautiful image or even a recent activity. Researchers at McGill University found that vividly imagining a favorite activity helped curb cravings, according to a study in the journal “Appetite” in August 2011.

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