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Beat Food Cravings with Creativity

Posted Oct 14 2013 9:54am
If you are human, you experience all sorts of cravings and give in to them more than you'd care to admit. Some cravings are signals from your body informing you of a need triggered by a deficiency; craving salt to increase blood pressure, for instance. In most cases however, this is the exception not the rule.  My body craves cookies not because I am sugar deficient but because of many other factors. The sweets in my cupboard call out to me in the middle of the night; "We're here and we taste fantastic.  Just have one, c'mon."  Does this happen to you? There are several reasons we experience food cravings
  1. Memory & reward centers in our brains that associate certain foods with pleasure
  2. Emotional needs trigger cravings in order to placate stress, anxiety, sadness etc.
  3. Imbalances in the diet 
  4. Habits and associations like having a coffee and donut every morning.
  5. Availability makes it hard to resist  food that you seeing and smell. Don't keep 'bad' foods in the house.
  6. Eating certain foods like simple carbohydrates will increase your cravings by causing low blood sugar 
  7. Tiredness/exhaustion affect the desire to eat surgery foods
  8. Low serotonin levels increases appetite. 
  9. Dehydration causes salty food cravings. 
  10. Menstruation causes craving for iron rich roods 
  11. Evolutionary drive attracts us to easy energy sources
There are many things you can do to alleviate your cravings but you will never be able to eliminate them altogether.  The name of the game is management.   Controlling your food cravings is paramount when it comes to weight loss and maintaining optimal body composition.

Let's play a thought experiment. Think of your absolute favorite food. Is it a picture in your head or a movie of the food?  Color or black and white?  I want you to imagine this food as vividly as possible.  Once you have it, I'd like you to rate this food on a tastiness scale from 1-10 (the lower the number the worse the food tastes and the higher the number the better it is).  Lets say the food is an ice cream sunday and its an 8 on your scale.  How could you make it a 10? Perhaps adding warm fudge sauce and a cherry while eating it in on the beach will get you there? Once it is a 10, think about it for a bit and I bet it will get your digestive juices flowing and maybe even make you hungry.  Now, I'd like you to do the reverse.  What can you do to the food in your head that makes it a 4?  Freezer burnt ice cream with flavorless toppings? Can you make it a 1?  I bet you can.  Add a few half living cockroaches attempting to climb out of the dessert.  Picture this vividly.  I bet your craving will diminish.  Playing this brain game in reverse is an effective technique to staunch many food cravings.  Here are some other ideas
  • Drink a big glass of seltzer water
  • Brush your teeth
  • Drink a hot coffee or tea (unsweetened) 
  • Chew gum
  • Exercise 
  • Wait 20 minutes 
  • Resist from telling yourself you 'can't ever have it'
Play around with what works for you and don't get disappointed if you 'give-in' every once in awhile. A famous comedian recently opined, "The meal isn't over when I'm full.  Its over when I hate myself".  There are many biological, psychological and societal factors that drive hunger and cravings.  Will power alone is not always enough.  Framing the way you think about eating and changing your internal narrative will also go a long way in helping you have a healthier relationship with food.   One of the best things you can do to control your appetite/cravings is get enough sleep every night and practice de-stressing techniques like meditating or exercise.  This process is not easy but the rewards of reaching your goals will be worth it. 
Doug Joachim - NYC www.JoachimsTraining.com
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