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Saturday, July 21, 2012

16 Ways to Control Your Cravings

16 Ways to Control Your Cravings
Cravings are more of a psychological addiction than a physical addiction,bearing little relation to you being hungry.But fighting off those cravings for food (usually high in sugar and fats) can be extremely difficult. Despite the fact that we can all struggle to cope with food cravings scientists and researchers still do not completely understand them. There ARE things you can do to control them — you are in control! You can lose weight by overcoming your cravings now. Here are the latest tricks of the trade from researchers and experts:

1. Avoid your triggers.
“You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you’re eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones,” says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, of the Monell Center. This can happen pretty fast. For five days, her study volunteers drank bland dietary-supplement beverages. During that time, they craved fewer of their trigger foods. By the end of the study, the volunteers actually wanted the supplements instead. The first few days are always the hardest, and you probably can’t completely eliminate your old cravings. But the longer you avoid your trigger foods, the less likely you may be to want them. In fact, you’ll probably begin to crave the foods you eat, a real bonus if you’ve switched to fresh fruit.

2.Destroy temptation.
If you’ve succumbed to a craving and bought a box of cookies or some other trigger food and start to feel bad while eating it, destroy it. “Don’t just throw it away; run water over it, ruin it. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that you’ve licked your binge,” says Caroline Apovian, MD, director, Nutrition and Weight Management Center at Boston Medical Center. Don’t think about the money you’re wasting. If the cookies don’t go into the garbage, they’re going straight to your hips.

3.Go nuts.
Drink two glasses of water and eat an ounce of nuts (6 walnuts, 12 almonds or 20 peanuts). Within 20 minutes, this can extinguish your craving and dampen your appetite by changing your body chemistry, says Michael F. Roizen, MD.

4.Jolt yourself with java.
Try sipping a skim latte instead of reaching for a candy bar. The caffeine it contains won’t necessarily satisfy your cravings, but it can save you the calories by quenching your appetite, says Dr. Roizen. And the warm richness and ritual can distract you.

5.Let it go.
Since stress is a huge trigger for cravings, learning to deal with it could potentially save you hundreds of calories a day. This will take some practice. You can try deep breathing or visualizing a serene scene on your own, or you can speed things up by buying one of the many CDs that teach progressive muscle relaxation. A good one is Relaxation/Affirmation Techniques, by Nancy Hopps.

6.Take a power nap.
Cravings sneak up when we’re tired. Focus on the fatigue: Shut the door, close your eyes, re-energize.

7.Get minty fresh.
Brush your teeth; gargle with mouthwash. “When you have a fresh, clean mouth, you don’t want to mess it up,” says Molly Gee, RD, of Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. 

8.Distract yourself.
If only ice cream will do, it’s a craving, not hunger. “Cravings typically last ten minutes,” says John Foreyt, PhD, of Baylor College of Medicine. Recognize that and divert your mind: Call someone, listen to music, run an errand, meditate or exercise.

9.Indulge yourself -- within limits.
Once in a while, it’s OK to go ahead and have that ice cream. But buy a small cone, not a pint. Try 100-calorie CocoaVia chocolate bars and 100-calorie snack packs of cookies, peanuts or pretzel sticks. The trick is to buy only one pack at a time so you won’t be tempted to reach for more. And since even 100 extra calories can sabotage weight loss if you indulge daily, strike a bargain with yourself to work off the excess calories. A brisk 15-minute walk will burn 100 calories or so.

10.Plan or avoid.
Vary your usual routine to avoid passing the bakery or pizzeria. If you know you’ll be face-to-face with irresistible birthday cake, allocate enough calories to fit it into your diet.

11. Identify the Times When You Crave Foods
What could be triggering the cravings? Are you bored, lonely, tired, anxious? Look at ways of dealing with the emotions — if you are tired: take a nap; feeling down: take a brisk walk to boost serotonin levels; lonely: ring a friend, make plans to get together and give yourself something to look forward to. Plan to keep yourself busy if you know certain times you struggle with cravings.

12. Don't Confuse Thirst with Hunger 
Drink plenty of water or natural fruit juices to stop your stomach feeling empty and eating when you don't need to.

13. Eat at Regular Intervals  
Don't go for long periods of time without eating this causes your blood sugar levels to drop and increases the desire for sweet and sugary foods. Look around for healthier versions of the foods you crave — chocolate covered raisins instead of a chocolate bar?

14. Indulge in a Little of What You Fancy 
Don't deprive yourself completely; it will only increase your desire for the food. Instead add in a little exercise (makes you feel good) to burn those extra calories.  

15. Practice Portion Control 
Skip the king sized/bigger bag versions. Snack size treat size will suffice and show that you are in control.  

16. Be Happy! Treat yourself
Listen to some relaxing music, take a long, hot bath with some of your favorite bubblies, and buy yourself a little something to reward your good behavior.  

Ok, we all have bad days. Don't be hard on yourself and dwell on the bad days. Put it into perspective — how many good days have you had? Pick yourself up and carry on with determination to achieve your goals. You can do it — Good Luck! 


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