How to Stop Food Cravings, Anytime and Anywhere?

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Jane 19 Feb, 2019

What Is Food Craving?

Also known as selective hunger or free-time hunger, food craving refers to the sudden psychological temptation that tells us of our love for a specific food. It is at its strongest phase when we are low on energy, have enough time to spare, are bored, or when we are stressed. This emotion is different from a specific hunger for a particular food at a particular time.

One may even have enough desire or temptation to eat a chocolate or a pastry even when one is not hungry, but one’s love for the two indulgent delicacies may lead to the stop named ‘food craving.’ Tempting as it may be, it can quickly derail your fitness plans and any efforts to get a fitter and leaner body. It may leave your metabolism affected for a long time.

Health risks associated with emotional eating

side-effects of emotional eating or food craving

Food craving (or emotional eating) makes you prone to eat a certain food or to have a certain drink at unusual times. One usually picks up cakes, pastries, patties, deep-fried foods, junk foods, spicy foods, packaged chips, and chocolates and then tops them up with soda or alcoholic drinks. The worst thing is that it is difficult to hold oneself back during the process.

While these foods do pump up our excitement, they do not come without health risks. These packaged junk foods contain unprocessed salts and sugars that may wreak havoc on our digestive system. Aerated cola drinks can simply flush out all the calcium from our bodies and eating too many sweets or chocolates can ruin our dental health, and may even make us diabetic.

Here’s why you should resist your habit of emotional eating:

1. Causes hormonal imbalance

2. Reduces your diet

3. Makes you eat fewer nutrients

4. Affects your metabolism

5. Induces stress and anxiety

6. Affects sleep cycles

7. Make it a habit

8. Leads to weight gain

9. Makes you feel guilty

10. Affects your fitness plans

We understand it is not easy to make some radical changes to an emotional reaction to your eating habits, especially if you have been following these habits for quite some time now. So here’s what you can do instead- you can try these healthy foods and eat them as snacks every day to beat your untimely hunger pangs.

What Causes Food Cravings?

It’s a difficult question to answer. However, a part of the answer finds itself rooted in our physical hormones. One should reasonably expect that low serotonin levels do trigger certain parts of our brain that are responsible for hunger. You can also use these tips to set your diet right.

These hormones may also tell us that we are running low on fats and carbs (alternative sources of energy). This is the time when we should decide to eat something healthy or nothing at all. The more time we spend thinking about eating something indulgent, the worse our willpower fares.

Special Case 1: What does craving for sugary and deep-fried foods mean?

what is sugar craving and how to stop it?

It is natural for us to go for foods that have higher levels of sugar. It is so because the foods and beverages rich in sugar and/or unprocessed salts like deep-fried chips, cola drinks, chocolates, and sweets offer us an easy way out to compensate for the falling (or apparently falling) levels of blood sugar in our bodies.

Note: This becomes worse when we are sleepy or are battling mental ailments like stress or depression.

Since they are different from our usual diet and taste very tangy, we fall for them every time. The worse happens when these foods and beverages trigger a chain reaction. So when we eat a few potato chips, or take a sip of cola, or eat a slice of pizza, we eat more of it and combine them with other harmful foods. This may lead us to weight gain, binge eating and drinking, and irregular sleep patterns.

Special Case 2: Craving for Chocolates

Yes, being a chocoholic is never easy!

Chocolate is that one high-energy food that is available across the world in several different forms and tastes. Mostly preferred by women, it is the world’s most favored snack and is preferred by menstruating women at different times of the day.

Eating one small piece of chocolate after each of the three meals every day keeps us focused, happier, and more energetic. Chocoholics disregard this advice because they find themselves more at ease with eating one piece now and then, and this often seems like a natural way out for most of us.

Special Case 3: Cravings for spicy or sour foods during pregnancy

cravings for spicy or sour foods during pregnancy

During pregnancy, a woman may crave sour foods and the desire is usually irresistible. It is highest in the first few weeks of the period and the third week is usually hard. Women do crave sour foods during their pregnancy, even during seemingly impossible times to begin with. It may be due to reasons like a loss of nutrients or due to some physical changes.

Also read: Is it safe to exercise during pregnancy?

Due to pregnancy hormones

This rapid surge in emotions is often attributed to mood swings and pregnancy hormones. The temptation to eat sour foods during pregnancy can accentuate during social functions and get-togethers.

Special Case 4: Craving for spicy food

We usually want to eat spicy or hot foods when we are looking for excitement. This can happen when we are sitting with our friends or when we have a hormonal imbalance. Whatever be the reason, it might also be a sign of our body telling us that it needs some time to cool off.

So the next time you order a pizza with jalapeno and red capsicum, think about why do you want to eat that spicy food? Are your friends coming over or have you just had a blast with them sometime before? Or does it have something to do with any upcoming get-together for a Super Bowl night?

How to control or stop food cravings?

The desire to eat anything can trigger anywhere, anytime, and play on your vulnerabilities, and sometimes the impulse to have a particular food item is so compelling that you just can’t say no to it. Once you munch the things you wanted, you feel guilty and sad. This is a never-ending circle which leads to a delay in weight loss desires.

So, the next time you have a temptation to have something just before lunch or after dinner, we recommend you control the irresistible desire with these simple tips:

Have some coffee

Consuming a hot beverage is a great and low-calorie option to desire to eat something sweet. A tasteful cup of coffee will not only relax you but will also hydrate you for the time being. Topping your favorite cup of coffee with a little sweetened milk is also a great way to handle midday hunger cues. Be sure not to overdo it because an excess of caffeine can hurt your metabolism badly.

Eat healthy snacks

Sometimes you just have to eat it and enjoy it. Go for it but be smart and choose an item that does not exceed more than 200 calories. The best option to handle such temptations includes a protein-packed nut bar, Greek yogurt with berries, or a cappuccino. For salty options, you may choose from mixed nuts, cottage cheese, or sesame crackers.

Smart Tip: Here’s how to Snack on Junk Food and still not get fat!

Eat a pickle

If you want to eat something salty, maybe you should just have a pickle. Yes, we know that this food item is high in sodium but it is also really low in calories. One or two spears will do the trick without adding to your waistline. Just remember to gulp down some water to flush out that piece of sodium later and if possible, do not eat a burger with it.

Halt method

Halt before you engage yourself in mindless noshing. If you have eaten something that’s high in calories and you still want to eat something more fattening, you should ask yourself if you are really hungry. It’s time to say no to mindless munching which is more or less out of boredom, tiredness, or loneliness. Try to identify if you are actually hungry or you just want to speak to a friend or take a nap.

Sticky activity list on your pantry door

Your pantry will be the best place to stick to the list of things you have to do. This will help in reducing your chances of eating or drinking something mindlessly. All temptations are beatable and so is this one. You may also fix a do’s and don’ts list on the door of the refrigerator.

Ask a Mental Therapist How You Can Beat off Your Habit of Emotional Eating Forever!

counseling to stop binge or emotional eating

Consulting a mental therapist and a fitness expert is more important than consulting a dietitian in this case. We recommend that you talk to them to know how you can show more discipline in your eating habits. Temptations lead to bad eating habits, and whether you are (or could be) pregnant or not, you can always take a step upwards to stop being indulgent or an emotional eater.

You will need to make some changes in your eating habits until you can find a satiating, sustainable set of patterns that works best. Just in case you slip or overindulge, think about what you can do next to not repeat the mistake. Don’t let guilt or temptation overpower you, but rather use it as a motivator to make better choices in the future!

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