Prevent Food Cravings From Destroying Your Diet

Photo Credit: Evan-Amos CC-Zero
Many people get food cravings from time to time. Men and women both get food cravings. When you are trying to lose weight, succumbing to a food craving can undo a week’s worth of weight loss efforts. Foods that are most often craved by women in the United States are sweet, calorie-laden, fat-rich foods, such as chocolates, ice cream, cookies and cheesecake. Food craving is a complex interaction of the brain, the stomach and hormones. Food cravings may also be all in your head.
According to research by Eva Kemps and Marika Tiggemann of Flinders University, Australia, people who have food cravings also have vivid image of the food in their minds. The clearer and more vivid the image of the food, the stronger the craving. When mental resources are focused on the image and memory of a food, it’s hard to focus on other mental tasks, hence a craving for the food. It is possible that the opposite may also be true. We can use our brain power to reduce cravings. In an article by Science Daily, The Psychology of Food Cravings, it is reported that people who had food cravings could reduce the craving by thinking about other things. In one experiment volunteers who were craving a food were shown flickering images of black and white dots on a computer screen. Cravings were also reduced when people thought about other things, such as a place they like to visit, a particular smell they remember (not food related) or to picture a rainbow. When people concentrated their mental energy on something other than a food craving, the craving lessened. 
Another way to help reduce food cravings, which can lead to over-indulging in diet-busting foods and treats, is to prevent yourself from becoming too hungry. Never skip meals and always eat a healthy breakfast that includes protein and complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, low-fat milk and nutrient-rich fruits and juices. Carry healthy snacks with you so that you can munch on them before lunch and before dinner, if you get hungry. Fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains like granola bars are healthy alternatives to the candy bar sugar fix. 
For tips about how to curb food cravings, see:
WebMD, The Facts About Food Cravings, Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, 2005

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