Most of us are “regular” people. We don’t eat the perfect diet
all the time and have our struggles with food, same as everyone
else. But having an awareness of this fact and knowing a little
bit about our health and food nutrition can help when it comes to
making wise decisions.
Many people struggle with food “cravings.” Studies tell us that
it’s fairly common for food cravings to happen at certain times,
quite often at around bedtime. Your guard may be down, you may
have had an unusually hard day, and off you go on your
not-so-merry way to find that tasty treat. Fatigue and stress
often combine to take their toll on the best of intentions.
When food cravings are unconstrained, what starts out as a
bedtime snack quickly turns into a full blown feeding
frenzy…not something most of us fully understand or appreciate.
We head to kitchen and every other place where food can hide,
clearing a path as we go.
Most food cravings are not about satisfying a nutritional need or
imbalance. They seem to be more emotionally related, or God
forbid, are caused by plain old gluttony. Exactly why we
over-indulge is not completely understood, however our knowledge
about this subject continues to grow.
Listed below are some thoughts and ideas about food cravings:
– If the food isn’t available, you can’t eat it! Empty the cookie
jar and keep it that way! Keep healthy food choices on-hand.
– Recognize the feelings and emotions that lead-up to a food
craving. Do you have food cravings when you’re bored, lonely, or
stressed? If you can identify a trigger, you can deal with the
emotion that’s making you desire a certain food. Try to deal with
the triggers in the best way you can.
– Sometimes, even recognizing that a craving is about to happen
doesn’t seem to help. Don’t beat yourself-up. There is always
tomorrow. Call a friend, make good use of your support network
and share your feelings with someone.
– Get enough sleep. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to
– Never give-up. When you “slip”, press-in, bear-down, get a
grip, do whatever is necessary to re-gain control. Try to
practice restraint most of the time, but don’t get legalistic and
un-balanced in your weight loss approach. Think moderation and
not abstinence at all times!
– Understand that self-control and discipline by themselves,
won’t cut it! If you depend totally on yourself for control, you
will fail. Forming caring and supportive relationships is
required. If you do not currently have a support network, start
building one TODAY.
– Exercise. It increases feel-good endorphins that cut down on
your cravings. Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical
activity every day.
– Use moderation. Instead of stuffing yourself with every kind of
food hoping that your craving will go away, eat 100 to 200
calories of your “craved” food.
– Substitute with low-fat foods and complex carbs. If you’re
hungry for chocolate, eat non-fat chocolate yogurt. Try fig bars
or raisins for a sweet craving.
– Never skip a meal. Eat every three to five hours. Try six
smaller meals or regular meals with nutritious snacks.
– Understand that hunger craving are oftentimes stress related.
Practice other ways to treat chronic stress – a walk in the park,
spiritual connections, a cozy fireplace, baths…all these
stimulate neurochemicals that activate regions of the brain that
stimulate pleasure. Relaxation techniques may work by reducing
the psychological drives on stress output, which can be the root
causes of stress. Bottom line, substitute pleasurable experiences
for comfort foods.
– Beware of certain medications. They can stimulate appetite.
Drugs used for the treatment of depression and bipolar disorder
can be appetite stimulants. Other drugs, both prescription and
over the counter, may influence appetite as well. If you are on a
medication, and troubled by food cravings, discuss this with your
doctor or pharmacist. You may be able to find an alternative that
doesn’t send your cravings out of control.
– Distract Yourself. What’s that old expression…idle hands are
the devils workshop? Get busy. Do anything other than cave-in to
your desire for food, and keep doing it until the cravings
– One final thought, take a look inside your refrigerator and
kitchen cabinets and do some general “house cleaning.” Throw-out
all that unhealthy stuff that is waiting to sabotage your diet,
and start shopping more wisely. A little forethought and careful
planning will go a long way for improving your chances of
Eat wisely, be happy, and live long!
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes
only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any
disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any
health care program.