What’s keeping you from losing weight? Oh – it must be the chips, ice cream, chocolates, doughnuts, and other high-calorie foods. Food craving is perhaps the biggest enemy of most dieters, even those who invest on gym memberships and strenuous workouts.
But according to experts, food cravings are normal. 90% of women and 50% of men experience it at least once a month. However, it is not so long ago when scientists began understanding the science of food craving.
Hunger vs. Craving
When you are hungry, you think about eating – just any food to satisfy your stomach. But when you are craving, you are becoming more specific. Perhaps you want blueberry cheesecake even if you have just taken your lunch. Researchers Eva Kemps and Marika Tiggemann of Flinders University in Australia investigated the reasons why people crave for certain foods. They mentioned previous studies that correlate food cravings to mental imagery. Based on these studies, the intensity of food craving depends on how vivid a person pictures it on his mind. Because it utilised cognitive resources, some experts believe that food cravings can be disruptive. When you have intense desire to eat certain food, you focus your attention to it, disabling you from doing other tasks.
There could have been no problem with food craving if people are going to choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables over the unhealthy ones. But it isn’t the case in real life. Researchers from the Tufts University found that people crave more on foods that are very high in calories. These foods usually contain some carbs, fats and a little of protein.
Below are some ways to control food cravings:
1. Eat on a regular schedule.
Hunger could intensify your urge to eat foods that are unhealthy. To avoid spoiling your diet efforts, make sure to eat on time. Dieticians recommend eating often in small amounts. Try not to have a snack after dinner. At night, you really do not need too much food unless you are working on a graveyard shift.
2. Create healthier versions of the food you crave about.
If you love ice cream, maybe you can create a healthier version of it, same with other dishes that we consider high-calorie. The web has a lot of recipes that will make you enjoy snacks without overstuffing your body with calories and unessential compounds.
3. Keep your eyes shut (and your nose too!)
As mentioned, our craving for food intensifies when we are able to create a clear picture of it. So avoid looking at images of unhealthy snacks. You also want to go away from places where your favourite treats are available because even if you shut your eyes, their smell will surely trigger your mind to crave.
4. Shift your attention.
According to Kemps and Tiggemann, the mind-and-food craving relationship can be used in reverse so that our brain could influence how we control our desire for foods. The theory behind this is that the working memory of the brain is so small that it can be easily displaced. That means you can shift your craving to other mental activities. Susan B. Roberts from Tuffs University suggest tapping the forehead when intense craving is on the way. Simply place all your five fingers on your forehead and tap each one with one-second interval. Watch your fingers as they do the tapping. Alternately, you can call a friend, get your phone and watch a video, play a game – anything that distracts your mind.
There’s no magic bullet cure for food craving. But there are many ways to control it!
Source of this article:
E. Kemps, M. Tiggemann. A Cognitive Experimental Approach to Understanding and Reducing Food Cravings. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2010; 19 (2): 86 DOI: 10.1177/0963721410364494