Many people blame cravings for weight gain and diet failure – just can’t live without chocolate or have to eat the entire bag of potato chips. But if you really want to live a craving-free life, restriction may be the answer.
A long term study published in the journal Obesity found that elimination and restriction of certain foods decreased cravings. When participants were put on a low-carb diet for 2 years, their cravings carbs, starches and sugar decreased. A second group was put on a low-fat diet for 2 years; that group showed a decrease in cravings for high-fat foods.
What should we take away from this? I don’t recommend cutting out certain types of foods to eliminate cravings, but I do recommend eating balanced and getting variety in your daily diet. The bottom line is that you shouldn’t let cravings sabotage your healthy eating efforts. If there are foods you crave, don’t allow yourself to have them every day. It may be painful at first, but in the long run you’ll reduce your cravings and be eating better.
Tips to controlling cravings:
Don’t completely eliminate the things you crave. Cutting something out completely may make you binge on it when you actually allow yourself to have it. Instead allow the craved-for-food in small portions sometimes.
Eat balanced and eat a variety. Eating lots of different kinds of foods and trying new things will make meal time exciting. Eating balanced will help keep you full and satisfied.
Don’t buy the things you crave. If you have a serious problem with eating an entire ice cream carton in one sitting, just don’t buy it! If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it.
Don’t eat out of packages. It’s impossible to see how much you’re consuming when you sit down with a chip bag. Instead of eating directly out of food packages, take a look at the serving sizes and measure out what you thing is an appropriate size for you.
Use a plate and sit down. We’re usually distracted when we eat, and when we actually take time to slow down and pay attention to feeding ourselves, we make better choices and eat less. So put your food on a plate, sit down at a table and enjoy what you’re eating.
Drink water. When you start to crave sugary or salty snacks, there is a chance that you might actually be dehydrated instead. So instead of heading straight for the vending machine, stop at the water fountain first.
Can’t get your cravings under control? Sometimes cravings may be the sign of a more serious underlying problem. Imbalances with neurotransmitters (the chemical messengers in the brain) cause cravings. If this is your problem, cravings can be intense and willpower isn’t enough. Cravings can also be caused by food allergies or intolerances. Many of us eat the same foods over and over and over, all of our lives. Eventually we can become intolerant to a food we eat too much. And the real kicker is that we actually crave foods that we’re intolerant to! So not only can we become intolerant to our favorite foods, we then start to have cravings for the very foods that are making us miserable.
Stein, Jeannine. “Trying to stop food cravings? Not eating the foods you crave may help, a study
finds.” Los Angeles Times. April 2011.