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Healthy Eating 101: Effective Ways To Say ‘No’ To Cravings

This is an all too familiar scenario. You think you have an effective diet plan that you are bent on finishing. However, when you start to implement it, you find your brain going out of control and you start craving things. The temptation is too much that you end up giving in. There goes your diet. The only way for cravings to sabotage your weight loss and health goals is if you let them control you. But how do you manage to rein them in without thinking that you are depriving yourself? Here are some proven and effective ways to shut the door on “mad for munchies” moments.

It’s all in your head

Cravings come from your head, not from your belly. When you crave, you are actually aiming to please your mood rather than feed yourself, says Professor Marion Hetherington, an expert on food cravings and professor of Biopsychology at the University of Leeds. Mood plays a crucial part. Thus, when you crave something, it is either you need energy or you are feeling miserable.

Having cravings is normal, but some people tend to want foods that are on the unhealthy side. Most of the time, these are high-calorie and high in carbohydrates, unhealthy fats and sugar. These are the types of food that can energize and uplift a mood. Evolution is partially to blame for this. As humans, we derive pleasure from intimacy, relationships and get satisfaction through taste. Thus, you are very likely to turn to food at some point in your life.

Nutrition has nothing to do with it

A common myth says that people crave certain kinds of food to satisfy nutritional deficiencies. This might be true to some extent, but for sure, you are not nutritionally deficient when you crave one whole bag of chips with sugar-loaded soda.

Professor Hetherington says that it is in very rare instances that cravings actually tell you of what you need. Most of the time, cravings are categorized with what makes you happy instead of what your body needs.

You might be stressed

When you are under pressure, your body produces more cortisol. This hormone is responsible for seeking out rewards. When you eat comfort foods that are loaded with fats, the hormone is blunted as you get satisfied.

When you reach for food in response to negative feelings, you create a powerful creation in your brain. The more you reward yourself with food, it gets coded in your memory center as a solution to an unpleasant situation. When you face the same problem again, your brain will automatically tell you to grab whatever unhealthy food you “think” you need.

[su_quote class=”cust-pagination”]”Don’t allow a problem you’re having with a person to become an eating problem. Stop trying to stuff down your feelings with food.” ~ Karen Salmansohn[/su_quote]

How should you deal? You can stimulate happiness in many other ways other than food. You can listen to music or exercise when the cravings get really bad or engage in an activity that really pleases you. Patience will help curb your cravings. When you just wait, you will find that these temptations eventually disappear. Another advice is to choose whatever distracts you the most so you get the munchies out of your head the fastest. Remind yourself that you are craving the feeling and not actually that bag of chips or that slice of cheesecake.

You are not a slave of habit

You might not realize it, but innocent routines such as rewarding yourself with pizza after a workout can create very strong associations. The brain loves routine and the thought of letting go of everyday patterns can cause a response similar to fear in your brain.

If you already are a victim of habit, try to do your best to eliminate sensory cues. All smells, sights and sounds can trigger you. Another effective technique is to try to see yourself as healthy as possible. Every time a craving comes up, clear your head and think of a healthy image. This is a calm way of fighting a craving. You will find that, after a while, the craving itself will disappear.

Munchies are definitely a weight watcher’s worst nightmare and can creep up even while on the strictest of diets. They are highly tempting. But you don’t have to give in. Do you have any effective methods of managing cravings? Share them with us in the comments below!

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