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Everyone has food cravings…
In fact, 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men say they experience cravings for very specific foods.
In all likelihood, you’re one of them. So, what do you think those cravings are trying to tell you?
Are you deficient in certain nutrients? Is there something you’re not getting enough of? Or, do you just need “comfort” food?
You may be surprised by the answer…
While insufficiencies in your diet could be to blame, for most people that’s not the case.
In fact, the majority of people report the exact same food cravings!
Salty, sweet, fatty… those are our weak spots.
Who knew, right?
And, cravings get especially intense when you try to diet. Yes, that’s right… the second you go on a diet, your brain sabotages you by sending signals to eat all of those “not-so-good-for-you” foods like potato chips, French fries, ice cream and cookies.
In fact, researchers say that there is one common denominator among all our food cravings: They’re bad for us – packed with sugar, salt, bad fats and high in calories — those are the things we crave.
Triggers for cravings
So, what actually triggers those cravings in the first place? The answer can be complex and a mixture of a number of things…
For one, dieting like we already talked about can put you at risk for cravings to strike. A monotonous diet in particular is likely to trigger food cravings.
Stress is another reason you may experience strong cravings for particular foods. Women especially tend to reach for chocolate during stressful times. And, when you couple stress with hormonal changes, the cravings can be even more intense.
Another trigger for food cravings is scent. Since smells are strongly tied to your memories, they can easily invoke cravings for foods associated with a happy memory. It’s your brains attempt to relive that memory.
Considering how powerful those food cravings can be, what can you do to beat them and avoid consuming all those calorie-laden foods your brain is urging you to eat?
There are a few strategies that work.
#1 – Walk the craving away
Researchers have found that women who walk on a treadmill when they get a chocolate craving reduce the intensity of that craving, giving them the power to ignore the call of desert. So, when you experience a craving, get active and exercise it away. You’ll not only curb the craving but also get in a workout too.
#2 – Visualize
Since cravings work on the same neural pathways as memories, engaging those pathways in another activity can beat the craving back. Try creating a vivid picture in your mind. For example, relive a happy memory. The key is to picture it in as much detail as you can.
#3 – Don’t go cold turkey
Since cravings become more intense when you eat a monotonous diet, allow yourself a few treats. If chocolate is what you tend to crave, let yourself have it every once in a while in controlled portions. By not making it a forbidden food, you take away the power of the craving.
#4 – Get some satisfaction
Seaweed contains beneficial proteins, antioxidants, minerals, trace elements, dietary fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acids. But one very important feature of seaweed is umami. Umami is a “taste” known to promote satiety. If someone is more satisfied by taste, then cravings for salt, sugar and fat are reduced making it easier to control appetite. For tips on adding seaweed as powder or granules to your dishes, read this post.
#5 – Don’t give up dessert
Research has shown that cutting out sweets all together can backfire. According to German research, knowing that you have to forgo dessert makes it harder for you to stick to a diet and more likely to put on extra pounds. That’s because you feel made to suffer… and that negativity can set you up to fail from the start. But a sensible dessert has a positive effect… read more here.
Being aware of your food cravings and the reason behind them, gives you the tools you need to overcome them. When you feel the urge to reach for a bag of potato chips or that bar of chocolate, try exercise or visualizing a happy memory first to calm the craving. And, remember — giving yourself permission to have a treat once in a while can keep your diet from becoming boring and prevent those cravings from striking in the first place.
The Craving Brain — Tufts University
Are food cravings the body’s way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients? — Scientific American