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Control Your Cravings
If I had the ability to cut out all cravings, I would wave my magic wand and be sitting on my yacht in the Caribbean right now. Unfortunately it isn't just a quick fix.
Why do we crave certain things? We have an inborn preference for salt, fat, and sugar. They all tantalize our taste buds, bringing us pleasure. We crave fat because it is very energy dense. Our body knows that it has 9 calories per gram (vs 4 calories per gram in carb and protein), so it is a large amount of energy in a small package. Sugar is instant energy. It goes into the bloodstream more quickly than any other food source, so the body craves the immediate availability of the sugar. Salt is part of the fluid balance that occurs in our cells, and it also tastes good. Salt does not contain energy, so the craving for salt is a little bit different than sugar and fat.
How can we control our portions of the food we crave as well as reduce cravings? It isn't always easy, but here are a few things to think about:
- Eat light and eat often. Do not go more than 3 hours between meals and snacks to prevent yourself from getting too hungry which promotes choosing the wrong foods (sugar, fat, salt) and overeating them.
- Arrange your food into individual servings instead of sitting down with an entire bag of something. I am sure you are familiar with the popular "100 calorie" packs, but you can make your own with snack sized baggies for a portion of the cost.
- Do not sit down with the entire package of something and expect to eat just one portion. Sit down with a plate, bowl, utensils, etc. instead of standing in the kitchen, eating out of the container.
- Don't eat when you are bored. Often we eat (especially in the evening) out of boredom and often when we are watching television.
- Eat mindfully. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Do not eat when you are driving, distracted, at your desk, ,or otherwise not fully concentrating on the full enjoyment of your food.
- Savor every bite of food. Close your eyes and pay close attention to the smell, taste, and feel of the food in our mouth.
- Set a limit for yourself as to how much you will indulge in. For example, eating chocolate is fine, but eating the entire bag of chocolate is too much. Decide how many pieces or how big of a serving, or how many calories you will allow yourself to have ahead of time and stick to it.
- Look for lower calorie options. Just because it is lower in calories does not mean you can eat more, though. If you don't enjoy the lower fat or lower sugar variety, stick with the original and just eat less of it.
Photo courtesy of ayelie