It’s 3 pm, you have a craving. Usually it’s for something sweet-chocolate or a cookie. Sometimes you indulge, but often you find that it doesn’t satisfy the urge. Then you want more. You can become obsessed. Before you know it, you’ve eaten junk you don’t need, you feel lousy and guilty.
So what do you do? First, understand food cravings.
Cravings are an urge or a strong desire for a particular food. They often strike suddenly and feel impossible to resist. Most likely the craving is for a high sugar, calorie, and fat food and is what you may consider a “treat” since you restrict it in your diet.
It has been believed for a long time that a craving is a signal that your body needs the nutrients in that food. In some cases, there may be some truth to that. But new research is showing that there is likely a lot more to it. The cravings, the desire for that food, do not come from your stomach but from your brain. They are biological responses from the pleasure, emotion, and memory centers of the brain. It remembers that certain foods make you feel good and taps into these memories when hit with cues – emotional (unhappiness, stress, anxiety, boredom) or environmental (you smell a sticky cinnamon bun or pizza and know how that food makes you feel) or even time of day (a glass of wine after work on a Friday!).
How can you control cravings? There are many strategies for overcoming cravings.
Drinking water, chewing gum or walking around the block can help the craving pass. Try to give one of the following strategies a try to figure out what works for you.
1. Put it on hold.
Cravings are fleeting and short-lived. The urge will diminish; you will just need to ride out the wave. Set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes. Tell yourself you will have to wait until then. When time’s up, revisit how you feel. The craving may have passed. If not, you can set the timer again or go onto a different strategy, which may include a small indulgence.
Do something different than you were doing when the craving hit. If you can, change what you were working on, call a friend, or get up and walk.
3. Drink Water.
When cravings hit it’s easy to convince ourselves we’re hungry. We may even get “hunger pangs,” but the reality is that you may be thirsty. Drinking water can help, and maybe add a little lemon for a twist.
4. Chew Gum.
Sugar-free chewing gum can help control cravings, manage hunger and may even shave a few calories from your day! Be sure to keep some in your car, work bag/purse, and desk.
5. Give In.
But in moderation only. Eat a little bit of what you’re craving, purchase smaller sizes of the food, or only bring a small portion of it to work. When a group of foods or a favorite food is cut out of your diet, your craving may become more and more intense which can lead to indulging, overeating and guilt.
6. Mix in Nourishment.
Mix in a healthy food with one less healthy, keeping the amount of food that you’re craving to a minimum. For example, have a handful of chocolate chips, adding in some almonds. If you crave salty foods, have a handful of chips and dip them in salsa.
Working through cravings can be extremely difficult, but armed with these strategies and some serious focus, you will be able to fight past even the toughest of food desires.
Photo Credit: Ashley Sisk Photography, CeceLynn Design
Source Credit: http://natureworksbest.com/naturopathy-works/food-cravings/