Conquer Your Cravings
A lot of people believe that your body craves something because it needs it. But does your body really need a donut or bag of potato chips? Probably not. So what really causes cravings?
Every person experiences cravings differently. Some experts say cravings can be caused by a hormonal imbalance or emotions, such as boredom or stress especially for people who eat for comfort.
Cravings are often associated with areas in the brain responsible for memory, pleasure and reward. Most cravings are for junk and processed foods high in sugar, salt, and fat. You generally don’t hear about someone who has an uncontrollable craving for carrots.
Food cravings are a major roadblock for people trying to maintain a healthy weight or switch to a more healthful diet. Luckily, we have eight simple steps to help you conquer these cravings.
Stress and emotional eating can influence a variety of health issues. Feeling stressed may promote emotional eating and cravings for comfort foods.
One study found that stressed women are more prone to cravings for sweets than women without stress. Eating due to stress may also cause weight gain and a larger hip circumference.
For some people, completely avoiding the food they crave may make these cravings worse. This can lead to overeating or feeling miserable without that food. In this case, it may be better to satisfy the cravings with a small, portion-controlled treat. However, some people are better off not having a taste because they will eat the whole thing. You have to know your own personality.
In some cases, people can easily satisfy their food cravings by choosing a more nutritious option. If you crave something sweet, opt for fruit instead of candy.
If you know you always have to get the bacon cheeseburger at a certain restaurant, try a different restaurant. If you indulge int the junk food in your office break room, find another place to eat for a while. If you are a late night eater, get yourself to bed earlier. Know your triggers and make conscious decsions to avoid them.
Hunger and thirst can produce very similar sensations in the mind. One of the easiest ways to reduce food cravings is to make sure the body is hydrated throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water helps clean out toxins from the body, which may also benefit a person's overall well-being.
When you don't get enough sleep, it can alter the blance of your hormones. This imbalance contributes to overeating and weight gain. In one study, when sleep-deprived participants switched to an adequate sleep schedule, they lost weight, which indicates that their hormones were brought back into balance.
A healthful diet should contain plenty of lean sources of protein, as they may help reduce cravings. Protein helps you stay fuller longer and makes cravings less likely.
A study in the journal Obesity found that overweight men were able to reduce their cravings by up to 60 percent by getting 25 percent of their daily calorie intake from protein. The same study found that a high protein diet helped reduce the desire for nighttime snacks by 50 percent.
When you crave a certain food, ask yourself why. Why do I want that cookie? Are you bored, are you stressed, are you hungry, re you anxious? Emotional eating plays a big role, but there is also a physiological reason as well. Sugar, especially, triggers area in your brain associated with pleasure. Some say it can be as addictive as drugs. That can make it harder to break the cycle, but once you say no, it become easier to do it the next time. Stress may also cause weight gain on its own, without extra food cravings. Stress results in higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, which may promote belly fat.