9 Ways to Curb Those Food
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spent the last few weeks weeding the junk out of your diet. You feel better
than you did last month, yet you're a little tired. "Aren't I supposed to have
more energy?" you think. As if on cue, you pass the local McDonald's. The smell
is arousing. "Yes, it must be lack of protein." As luck would have it, it's Big
Wednesday - two Big Macs for $2. Certainly your body wouldn't steer you wrong,
so you order away. Habit sways you to throw in fries and a Coke, but that's
okay because you've earned it. Besides, you've been listening to your body, and
it's craving protein. This can't be wrong. Or can it?
Learning how to listen to your body is a vital step
to living an active and healthy lifestyle. Your body is smart; it will tell you
what is working and what isn't. Unfortunately, it's also a creature of habit,
and old habits die hard. So sometimes when you could use a little fat, it tells
you that you need a pint of Ben and Jerry's. You want to conquer these bad
habits, yet you know you need to fuel yourself properly. What should you
Physiological Cravings versus Psychological Cravings
The ability to tell physiological
hunger from psychological cravings is one of the keys to maintaining
a lean body, and learning to distinguish which is which is your first step to
learning how to conquer your cravings. Eating in response to a psychological
craving almost always insures overeating.
Your body will tell you
it needs food or a certain food because it's deficient. These are
- You feel like you suddenly have no
- You have a gnawing feeling in your
- You're light-headed.
- You can't stop thinking about meat,
or spinach, or even fatty foods, etc.
Some examples of
psychological cravings are:
- You want something sweet after
- You want a hot dog at a ball game
or chips while watching TV.
- You get hungry at the mention of
- You can't decide what you want to
eat but feel the need to eat something.
- You get suddenly hungry from the
smell of a comfort-food restaurant.
- You get hungry when you're
- You get hungry when you're bored.
What to do
Once you decide which type of craving you're having, then
make a plan of action. You want to give in to physiological cravings. These
happen commonly when you don't eat for long periods of time. They also happen
both at the onset of an exercise program or any time you restrict your diet.
Often they signal a blood sugar crash, like when you're light-headed. Food
cravings can signal different things. Meat cravings come from excessive muscle
breakdown when your body wants protein to repair it. Veggies usually signal a
vitamin deficiency. Ice cream, or any fat, can signal a fat deficiency. If
these cravings are real, eating the right food will calm the craving, even if
it's something you don't like. For example, a teaspoon of flaxseed oil might
appease your ice cream craving if you haven't been getting enough essential
fat. A protein shake may have the same effect as a Big Mac, even though you
were sure you needed that burger. These types of cravings should be indulged.
You just need to make sure to do it correctly.
are far more common. This is when you become certain that you'll fall over dead
if you don't get some peanut M&M's, now! These are the cravings that need
to be resisted at all costs. Here are some tips to help when times get
- Eat every 3 hours. Even if
it's something small. One of the biggest culprits for psychological cravings is
falling blood sugar levels. If you keep your levels steady, you simply won't
crave the same things. The easiest way to combat cravings is to avoid them in
the first place.
- Drink water. Dehydration
confuses the body and will often make it feel hungry, especially if it's cool
out. A small glass of water each hour will keep your stomach full and keep you
- Wait. Real cravings stay
with you but psychological ones don't. If you've eaten enough and are hydrated,
putting off a decision for 15 to 20 minutes will help the craving
- Distract yourself. Along the
same lines, if you start doing something else the feeling will usually pass. If
you've been working in front of a computer but feel the need to eat, do
something else. Make a phone call or read the news. Changing your mindset might
be all you need.
- Exercise. If you
start to exercise and your cravings aren't physiological, you'll feel better
almost instantly. If they are physical, you'll never be able to really get into
your workout, which is a sign that you need to eat.
- Challenge your
craving. Some people like to attack things, and so prefer the
approach that is "Go ahead and take your best shot. I don't need food and I'm
- Keep healthy snacks around. Sometimes you
just can't take it, especially if you're on a restricted-calorie diet. Keeping
healthy snacks around will help. Have a piece of fruit or some raw veggies. If
that doesn't help, you'll know your craving is psychological.
- Change your routine. Habit
can affect a craving, so shake up what you do, even if it's just slightly. Turn
off the lights in your kitchen and try not to use that room. Change the
lighting of your house, move your desk, sit differently, get up every so often
and stretch, or drink waterdo anything different. Forcing simple changes can
make it easier to follow through with tougher ones.
- And when absolutely nothing else
works, give inbut RARELY! Every so often you've got to blow it.
After all, you're human. And if you didn't enjoy these foods, they wouldn't
have become something you craved in the first place. You are going to mess up
sometimes. This can be okay if you can limit amounts. Have a square of
chocolate instead of a whole bar, a serving of chips (around 20) instead of a
bag, half a soda instead of the entire thing. And never let one bad evening
turn into a three-day (or three-week) binge! This will work your habitual mind
in the right direction and lead to the ability to cut that craving out for