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Got Food Cravings? Try These Tips To Conquer Them

Posted Aug 24 2008 2:52pm

Food cravings-we all have them but below is some great advice that I am recycling from my early blog days (sorry, but both kids have fevers so my original post will have to be here hopefully tomorrow) to help you conquer them.

As I have mentioned before, I love food, love to eat and constantly crave chocolate, Diet Pepsi (of course), Mexican food, anything really fattening, sweet or starchy (notice no cravings for anything truly healthy-ironic isn't it!). Now on the other hand it is important for me to be healthy and maintain a weight that I am comfortable with and unfortunately what I crave is not necessarily what my body needs (why, why, why?). I have found some ways that we can help ourselves with those cravings and do some damage control for our bodies. I believe that moderation is the key to success to anything in life -so I say- don't deny yourself but why not try to minimize those unhealthy cravings so you feel better.


**CUES IN THE ENVIRONMENT- The time of day may trigger a desire eat if it coincides with mealtime or usually later in the afternoon . "By far the greatest number of cravings occur late in the day," says Marcia Levin Pelchat , Ph.D., of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, an institute that does research on taste and food preferences. "That's when our blood glucose drops, making us sluggish and in need of a lift" All it takes now is a cue -- a fast-food billboard on your way home or a co-worker's candy bar -- to bring on a major craving.

**WHEN WE ARE STRESSED OUT, BORED OR UPSET -Bad moods frequently give rise to cravings: We imagine that if we eat a cookie or a chocolate bar, we'll feel better -- and often we do. Carbohydrates sweet or starchy foods -- increase the secretion of the brain chemical serotonin, which in turn can improve mood.

**BEFORE YOUR PERIOD- Research shows that many of our cravings for chocolate and carbohydrate-rich foods are particularly intense in the days leading up to menstruation. Experts theorize that women may overeat carbs in an attempt to raise serotonin levels to counter the bad moods and mild depression related to PMS. Info found here.


** EAT AT REGULAR INTERVALS DURING THE DAY- If you skip meals ( ex . breakfast) or go too long without eating, your blood sugar levels will fall too low, which is a perfect recipe for food cravings, overeating and even binges. Allowing 3-4 hours between meals/snacks is a sensible maximum for women, although 3 hours is better. Men typically can safely wait 4-5 hours. And you don't need to eat much: even a single oat-cake can be enough between meals to keep eating urges at bay. As well as maintaining stable blood glucose levels, regular eating helps your metabolism to burn calories at an efficient rate. Finally, studies show that regular eating helps to reduce cravings associated with Pre -Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). I hate to say this but I don't think that I can go 3-4 hours without something. I am a snacker so maybe just some smaller healthy little meals would work too (for those of you who read this blog often-need I say nuts would be a good snack).

**REDUCE YOUR INTAKE OF DRINKS THAT ACT AS STIMULANTS -According to some experts, stimulants ( ex . sugar, caffeine in tea/coffee, caffeinated soft drinks-all things I of course enjoy)can cause fluctuations in blood sugar, and should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation. Switch to herbal teas, spring water and diluted pure fruit juices.

**RECONDITION YOUR BODY NOT TO HAVE THEM AT ALL- Ohmg ! Did I really write that???? Not to have them at all???? What would life be like without the occasional pizza, the brownies, cookies, chocolate and of course the highly revered by me Diet Pepsi craving??? This is why I am a health wannabee because the thought of life without those dear yet junky foods sounds sad and lonely ( please tell me there are others out there in this world who feel the same so I don't feel so pathetic). Okay, let me say it in a way that sounds more doable to my ears (and those in the health nut wannabe's club ears)-Recondition your body to have them in moderation. How about that? Sounds better, don't you think? Apparently,when it comes to cravings, it is like a wave-the urge goes up, it crests, then it goes back down. The trick, then, is to surf the craving crest and get past it. Do things that distract you from thoughts of eating. If you normally go to the convenience store and get Laffy Taffy and chocolate in the morning then instead pick up the phone and call a friend, go for a walk, read my blog, whatever it takes (within reason). ref-Whole Foods Market March/April issue.

I also found this list here by Dr. Colleen Huber that tells you when you crave something (ex-chocolate) then you really need (magnesium) so try (Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits). There are tons of different foods she has listed and what you can replace those cravings with in a healthier way.

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