The Main Problem
I remember all too well trying to lose weight for years and feeling like such a failure. Cravings for salty, sweet or crunchy snacks were ruling my life. Whenever I “went on a diet”, I almost never quit because of hunger. The reason that I gave up was food cravings.
What Causes Food Cravings?
It’s interesting to note that no one ever “quit a diet” because they missed whole, healthy foods. Chips, cookies, cakes, pizza and ice cream top the list of foods that people think they can’t live without. The salt, sugar and excess fat in these highly processed foods act like drugs on the central nervous system and our brains respond. Uncontrollable, “hit-me-again” food cravings set the stage for disaster as we stuff ourselves with more calories than we can burn in two days, much less before bedtime.
If you want to get food cravings under control, leave off the salty processed junk and added sugars. The reward system of your brain responds to even the smallest amount of added sugar and excess salt. It’s necessary to remove ALL added sugars from your diet to begin to feel freedom from this debilitating craving.
Hormonal shifts can cause intense food cravings. PMS, pregnancy and the normal monthly hormonal swings in women can bring on cravings unique to you. Eating well-balanced, healthy meals, avoiding added sugars, alcohol and excess stress will help you to control your cravings better. Eating nutritionally dense food, food that is packed with good nutrition and low to moderate calories, will alleviate some cravings that are caused by nutrients missing in your diet. Alcohol causes mood swings by first boosting your serotonin and dopamine but then depleting those same feel good chemicals in your brain. Because alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it can intensify negative emotions which send you running for comfort foods. Alcohol ruins your sleep by reducing Rapid Eye Movement sleep which is the most restful sleep cycle. (1) Without restful sleep, your stress hormones will soar.
Manage Stress to Manage Food Cravings!
We teach “Make Your World Small”-David Yochim. This means to remove superfluous and/or negative people from your life in order to focus on what’s important. When you remove negative influences from your life that raise your stress levels, your cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is the stress hormone that causes fat to be deposited on your belly. Belly fat is dangerous because it raises blood pressure, insulin resistance and blood sugar. Because cortisol affects the production of sugar for fight or flight situations, it can cause an increase in appetite and food cravings for sugary, fatty and salty foods. Adequate sleep is one of the best ways to help control stress. If you are tired you will crave foods that give you quick energy.
Get some exercise that is approved by your doctor to change your mindset and watch the stress melt away. Outside exercise raises the calming neurotransmitter GABA and gets you out of the house for a while. Any exercise that your doctor approves and you will actually do will help to alleviate stress and food cravings.
Stay Full to Fight Food Cravings
Poor nutrition and dehydration will cause you to look for something to satisfy those needs. Eat plenty of good quality protein and complex carbohydrates. Don’t let yourself get too hungry because if you do, the accompanying blood sugar dip will drive you to search for junk food. Read David’s article Pragmatic View On Protein to get an idea about how much protein a healthy person normally eats. Try visiting our FREE Calorie Counter Pro to determine your caloric needs and stay hydrated. We strongly encourage losing no more than one pound per week. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN before beginning ANY weight loss program.