Don’t you hate it when you have to deal with those unwanted food cravings, particularly ones that are sweet or salty? After much deliberation and fighting with ourselves, we usually give into the temptation and have regrets there after. This article will tell you all about how to deal with these unwanted cravings and hopefully having you reducing or completely eliminating these needs once and for all. Keep on reading to find out how to say no that piece of chocolate staring at your from the cupboard or that extra chip waiting to be eaten!
A craving is typically defined as “a powerful desire”. Our cravings drive us, whether for love, money, power, fame or simple those delicious sea salt caramels! It is very rare to find yourself craving some such as celery or baby carrots, however, there are select few who do and probably don’t have to worry about stopping those cravings anytime soon. Instead, we crave foods that are usually high in fats, sugars, carbs and when ingested they trigger the release of natural opioids and give us a sense of pleasure. When areas of the brain are associated with drug craving light up when people crave a specific food. Furthermore, blocking opiate receptors in the brain cuts food cravings for fat and sugar.
What Causes Food Cravings?
Hormones tend to play a big role in food cravings. There is a hunger hormone called Grehlin that naturally goes up and and down before and after a meal. Grehlin plays a role in our natural preference for sugar, as well as our likelihood of giving in to cravings for comfort foods. A study was done back in 2013 that found levels of Grehlin followed a typical rise-and-fall pattern after eating a relatively boring meal, but rocketed off the charts after eating delicious foods even after the study participants were full. This then suggested that the hunger hormone drives what researchers like to call “hedonic food consumption”.
Eating to satisfy a craving is different than a binge. Cravings can set off a binge, however they don’t have to. When you binge it often feels out of control and is often driven by stress, worry, shame or boredom. It is typically used to fill an emotional void or managing seemingly unmanageable emotions. Cravings on the other hand aren’t necessarily driven by emotion, but they can get mixed up with them. Having a craving for specific food can often go hand in hand with other feelings, and knowing what you’re dealing with is the first step to prevention.
Here are some reasons as to why you could be dealing with unwanted cravings:
- Emotional Eating or Stress Eating. The reflect a strong desire and a desire for a specific food. The point is simply the act of eating, whether to burn nervous energy or soothe yourself.
- Boredom. For those who are switch up what they eat constantly, they are restricting yourself to foods that are familiar or convenience lights a fire under cravings. Dieting can often lead to cravings because of the consistency in the food options.
- Deprivation. Disallowing certain foods works like thought suppression. If you feel deprived when you try to group foods as “healthy” versus “unhealthy” or “good” versus “bad” you are setting yourself up for a craving.
How Do You Fight These Food Cravings?
- Tip 1: A craving is not an emergency.
- Try and let the craving perch for a bit and just like a storm, cravings will fizzle and pass.
- Tip 2: Lean In.
- To resist the craving, use a counter intuitive tool and lean into the craving. Your body may need the acknowledgement and attention. Just calmly notice you may uncover some other need under the craving, or you may not; it’s the tuning in that will tell you.
- Tip 3: Delay the Craving.
- Most cravings come quick and when I mean quick, I mean like a firecracker. However, there are those slow, agonizing cravings that seem to never go away. To deal with the quick cravings, tell yourself you’ll have a sweet in 30 minutes, fast forward to that time and you’ll find yourself not wanting that food anymore. If you still want them, then you’ve got that slow and agonizing craving.
- Tip 4: Don’t suppress your thoughts.
- In 2008, a study was conducted that found when women try to suppress their thoughts about chocolate, they actually ended up eating 50% more than those who were encouraged to think and talk about it.
- Tip 5: Don’t try to substitute.
- If you’re craving something specific, eat it; don’t try to fool your body.
- Tip 6: Develop a small ritual for your favorite foods.
- Create a ritual around foods you crave to maximize the enjoyment for the food. Don’t feel like you need to elaborate the ritual, it could be a simple as breaking a cookie in half before you eat it.
- Tip 7: Savor it.
- Really make sure to sit back and taste the food once you’ve got your hands on it. Eat it slowly. Sit at a table and not in front of a television or computer screen. Chew it, don’t inhale it. Try and taste each ingredient you are putting into your mouth. This is often called mindful eating and it can be both freeing and frustrating at the same time. Eating mindfully can decrease your cravings, your waistline and your risk of getting Type II diabetes.