Weight Control

Combating Food Cravings

Cravings can be caused by so many different sources that it’s almost impossible to offer a single solution that will work for everyone.

Where does the craving come from?

If it’s due to psychological causes, such as boredom or anxiety or habit, you may be able to fend it off just by changing activities.

If you notice that the craving is always linked to a certain activity (such as reading or watching television), try changing your routine — go for a walk, talk on the phone or just wait it out for 15 minutes. Very often you’ll find that the craving has lost a lot of its strength by the time the waiting period is up.

Some cravings for food are actually thirst in disguise. Since most of us walk around under-hydrated, half the time what we perceive as hunger is really thirst. You can test that by drinking a couple of glasses of water, preferably with a slice of lemon, waiting a few minutes and checking to see if you’re still hungry.

What do you crave?

Sugary foods: Craving mostly sugary foods could be linked to low levels of serotonin and endorphins. If this applies to you, a diet higher in protein and high-quality fats may help. Try eliminating refined flours, sugar and alcohol. These play havoc with your blood sugar and set you up for cravings, whereas protein, fat and fibre will tend to keep blood sugar levels more even and help keep cravings at bay.

Fatty foods: Your body may be telling you that you are low in essential fatty acids. Try eating more fish, or supplementing your diet with fish oil or flaxseed oil. If you choose the supplement route, make sure you are also taking a multiple vitamin or mineral high in antioxidants such as vitamins E and C and selenium.

When do you crave?

Have you ever noticed that foods that seem irresistible at night, such as birthday cake after dinner, don’t seem very appealing at eight in the morning? That to me seems like a good argument that it’s not the food itself that’s calling you, it’s your own fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin during the day that make you susceptible by the time evening comes around. How can you smooth out the blood-sugar roller coasters that feed the need for sweets later in the day? Once again, try a diet that’s higher in protein, good quality fats, vegetables and the occasional fruit and lower in processed, manufactured junk (commercial cereals, breads and pastas).

If you munch try to avoid eating carbohydrates by themselves; instead, mix them with some protein and fat, like an apple with a little cheese or some peanut butter. Nuts are also a great snack, but watch the quantity. Protein snacks are another option. Think of things like sliced turkey with tomatoes. Also most raw vegetables can satisfy your need to munch on something while doing absolutely no damage to your weight loss program.

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