craving food

How to Avoid Food Cravings

Craving certain foods is one of the main reasons so many diets fail. The foods that are 'bad' for you are usually laden with salt and sugar, which is why we crave them in the first place!

We all know that as soon as you set out to deny yourself something that you enjoy, there's going to be a point at which you crave it so badly the temptation is to give in, no matter what the consequences.

If we could all learn how to avoid food cravings, then you could prevent guilt-inducing food binges and boost your chances of successful, permanent weight-loss. Easy. But is there more to it than that?

Why Do We Get Cravings?

Apart from a physical component of eating the salty crisps, or the sweetest chocolate,some medical chaps think the choice of your craving actually shows what type of person you are. For instance, Alan R. Hirsch, MD is Head of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago and has looked at this for over 25 years.

There's tons of research, thousands of papers and lots of column inches written about losing weight. One of the key strands that runs through a lot of it is that diets and weight loss plans are ruined by the cravings that takeover. Control the cravings and you'll maintain your weight much more easily.

What's Behind A Craving?

This is not a definitive list or an answer to stopping cravings, but it does helps to show that what seems simple on the face of it, is a more complex issue altogether.

Salty Foods

You crave salty chips or salty crisps.

Well, it may be that your diet just doesn't have enough salt in it. You may also have a shortage of other minerals too.

Chocolate

Any kind, white, dark or milky chocolate.

Did you know that chocolate releases Serotonin - a neurotransmitter. Increased serotonin reduces depression - it gives you a nice lift!

Spicy Food

The spicier the better, hot Mexican or Indian food is definitely a craving for some.

Hot spicy food, thanks to the chilli's are now known to increase your blood pressure, your heart rate and also even your breathing. The effect of capsaicin also prevent hunger. So if you want to have any cravings, this is the one to have!

Can You Control Cravings

You're on a diet and you know you can't have the plate of sugary donuts right in front of you. Can you control this? Are there ways to make it easier and more manageable?

Option 1

Give yourself permission to eat anything you like, but in strict moderation.

You'll find that as soon as something ceases to be forbidden it becomes a lot less exciting to sneak off and binge on it.

So instead of forbidding yourself certain foods, make a commitment to choosing quality foods at least 80% of the time. If you combine a healthy diet with regular exercise, there's absolutely no reason to completely remove foods you like from your diet.

Option 2

Look for patterns and habits that accompany certain foods. When do you experience your worst cravings? If, for example, you find that it is between dinner and bedtime, is it because you haven't eaten enough during the day? Or is it simply that you are in the habit of munching when you settle down at night to watch TV?

If you're an emotional eater then is it day to day stress or something more deep-seated? If you can figure out the patterns and thus the potential causes of your cravings, it becomes much easier to take steps to prevent them in the future.

Stopping Yourself Eating 'Bad' Foods

One of the best ways of avoiding eating bad foods is simply not to buy them.

Good eating starts with good shopping if you don't buy the foods that know tempt you into eating the wrong types of foods. If they are not in the house, then it becomes much harder to eat them as you'll have to actively go out to the shop and buy them if you get a craving.

Alternatively, it may be that what you are eating is simply not satisfying you. Many people who go on a diet end up choosing the same, bland food day after day. But healthy food doesn't have to be that way it should look and taste great. By making sure that you have a good variety in your daily diet mixing tastes, textures, colours and so on you can reduce your craving for particular foods.

An if all else fails and you end up eating something that wasn't on your plan, chalk it up to experience and get back on the diet. Remembering that one blip doesn't mean you have failed is one of the best things you can tell yourself.

Useful Links

Serotonin - http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/ate/mentalhealth/204667.html

Chilli's aid weight loss - http://www.nhs.uk

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