What draws us to certain foods? Actually, many things! Cravings can be a result of childhood food associations, memories, cultural beliefs, traditions, and other powerful emotional cues. Whatever the cause, cravings are natural. Researchers now say that it is best not to ignore your cravings, but instead to work with them. Ignoring your cravings actually can lead to binging. Next time your cravings are taking over your life, try some of these suggestions.
Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day. Include some complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread, starchy vegetables and legumes. Always eat breakfast! People who exercise regularly maintain weight and are less prone to cravings and binging.
A desire for sweets in the evening could actually be a signal that the body needs fluids. Plan for your snacks. If your sweet tooth is calling, allot a certain amount of calories for a small snack, but make sure it is low fat.
Get plenty of fiber. Fiber helps give us a feeling of “fullness” without the fat. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, low-fat refried beans). Try to include some of these items at each meal and snack.
Avoid fatty meals and snacks at midday. They may increase your cravings for fatty foods at night. Instead try fresh fruits and vegetables or pretzels, with low-fat cheese or bagels, with fat-free cream cheese Be sure to watch portions sizes.
Use plain or vanilla low-fat and non-fat yogurt in place of sour cream or ice cream. They also work great as a topping for fresh fruit and in shakes.
When you find yourself doing the “Kitchen Cruise” stop and ask, “What am I feeling?” “Am I really hungry?” “Am I bored, lonely, tired, frustrated or what?” “Will food help?” If you are really hungry, then have a small healthy snack. But, if you are not hungry, deal with the “feeling”.
Are you craving something sweet, crunchy, or chewy? Once you know what it is that you desire, find a low-fat substitute. Sometimes only the “real” thing will work. If that’s the case eat a very small portion and take about 20 minutes to do it.
During the time you are more likely to have cravings, take a walk.
Record what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel when you are eating. This may help you determine whether or not something other than hunger is driving your cravings.
Make your home and work area supportive of healthful eating. Eliminate tempting foods from your environment.
Don’t go “cold turkey” when it comes to your favorite foods. Make gradual changes in your dietary habits to prevent your body from feeling that it is deprived.
It causes a rush of both serotonin (a hormone that makes us feel relaxed) and endorphons (brain chemicals released during several intense feelings including pleasure) into the brain cells and results in the ultimate happy brain. It contains caffeine plus a second component similar to caffeine; both are stimulants that provide us with an energy lift. It is a very good blend of sugar and fat both can give quick energy and easily be stored.
It has a blend of over 500 flavors (2.5 times more than any other food) so it gives sensory pleasure that is match by no other food. It melts just below body temperature, so it gives immediate pleasure. It has been given as a reward since childhood, and it made us feel better when we were sad. The smooth creamy feeling of chocolate on the tongue is soothing and helps us relax.
Buy chocolate in small amounts. It is easier to stop at one or two chocolate kisses or one miniature candy bar, than the 5 pound box. Eat chocolate after a meal. You are less likely to indulge when the stomach is full. Look for chocolate-flavored syrups with one gram of fat or less. Use it on fresh fruit, angel food cake, nonfat frozen yogurt, or mix it with a glass of skim milk.
Barr, S, RD, “Got a craving? Go ahead!” McCall’s 1995 February, pp.59.
Somer E, MA, RD, “Irresistible urges” Shape. 1994 January pp. 34-37.
Somer, E. MA, RD, “Outsmart Your Food Cravings.” Ladies Home Journal. 1995 Feb. pp.118-121.
Waterhouse, D, MPH, Rd Why Women Need Chocolate 1995.