Food cravings are one of the most common phenomena in this world and everyone has been hit by them at least once.
Once hit by the food craving, most people will have already downed half a bottle of soda, or gorged on a dozen chocolate chip cookies before they stop to think of the adverse effects that this will have on their diets or weight loss plans.
However, once the realisation hits people immediately go into a guilt trip which results in sour moods and the need for comfort food which further results in binge eating and weight gain and the vicious cycle continues.
The solution to this process is to control the triggers that produce such cravings in the first place so that the problem can be nipped in the bud.
Overcoming Food Cravings
Contrary to popular opinion, food cravings are controllable and it is not a necessity or bodily compulsion to act on these triggers. With the right tricks up one’s sleeves, one can easily tackle these cravings and emerge as the winner. Following are the various ways in which these triggers can be controlled –
Avoid the Triggers of Food Cravings
According to Marcia Pelchat, PhD, MonellCenter, “You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you are eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones.”
She conducted an experiment wherein the test subjects were asked to phase out their junk food habits, and instead switch to bland dietary supplements. As time passed and these subjects did not eat junk food for quite some time, the cravings for those food items also diminished. Instead, the cravings now were for these bland supplements.
Thus, the craving are or those things that the body is already accustomed to eating. Try to switch out all of your fatty food habits for healthier ones and within sometime you will find yourself craving the healthy items instead of the fatty ones.
Ruin the Tempting Food
At any time if you give into your cravings and dive into that box of chocolate chip cookies hidden in your dresser, the moment during the eating when you start feeling guilty is when you should stop and completely destroy that box in your hands.
Do not merely stuff it into the recesses of your cupboard for later, but dunk them in water or throw them in the dustbin, anything that renders them unfit to be eaten again.
Apart from making the food useless for consumption to avoid a second lapse, it will also give you a sense of satisfaction at having gotten the better of your food craving. It will further strengthen your resolve to stick to your diet plans.
Relieving yourself of Stress
Stress is one of the biggest triggers of these cravings and eating binges since under stress is when you most need your comfort food and the body starts sending you signals to stuff yourself with all sorts of delicious candy bars or fried chicken or assorted chocolates.
Thus relieving yourself of stress could be one of the best ways of avoiding the eating binges. Try incorporating yoga into your daily life or breathing exercises every morning.
Relaxing music or regular sleep may also help reduce stress levels. Apart from controlling binge eating, stress reduction is also essential for the overall well-being and happiness of a person.
The typical time span of a craving is about five to ten minutes. If you are able to ride out that time span without giving in to the food cravings, you should be in the clear.
The best way to do this is by distracting yourself whenever hit by such bouts of cravings. In case you start feeling the need to reach out for that bag of chips, involve yourself in some other work, for example some office work or maybe grocery shopping or any other household chores that need attention.
Adequate and Satiating Meals at Meal Times
Eating less than the usual diet can also trigger filling food cravings. If you have been eating lesser than 1,000 calories a day or have been cutting out an entire food group from your diet, carbohydrates for example, then you have been making your body susceptible to such cravings.
Just 5 days of a strict diet can reduce the effects of the appetite reducing hormone, leptin, by almost 30% and hence the body feels hungrier than it usually does even with normal meals. Studies have shown that “restrained eaters” are not necessarily thinner than regular eaters, and may even be 1 or 2 Body-Mass Index points higher because starving the body of a particular food group often backfires and does not give the desired results.
In fact, these people will tend to over binge on the forbidden foods once given the opportunity to do so and hence will completely ruin all efforts. It is thus essential that proper meals be eaten at proper times.
Some people have the habit of munching on chips or popcorn when watching something on the television.
Although started as an innocuous exercise to be done one or two times, the brain creates an association of the two in its recesses and hence now every time that you sit in front of the television your brain will send signals to your body creating cravings for the munchies.
The thought of breaking this routine causes a fear response in an area of the brain called amygdala, and this response is shut off only when the food is eaten. The best way to get rid of this is to force your brain to break this connect by riding through these bouts of cravings without touching the food.
The brain will slowly get used to the idea of not having food while watching television and the pattern will be broken.
Buy Small Quantities of the Dangerous Food
Even if you are buying the dangerous foods for a cheat day, make sure that you buy them in small quantities and not huge ones so that even if you give in to your cravings you are unable to overeat due to small quantities being present. For example, if you go out to but cookies buy packs of four instead of the big dozen packs.