For starters, have you ever experienced the late-night call to the fridge for a sandwich, or a leftover piece of pie?
Do the cookies, breads, and cupcakes call to you in the night, begging you to eat them?
Trust me on this, you are not alone! Everyone at some point in time, regardless if you are on a diet or not, has experienced the stomach pains of wanting those forbidden foods.
There are TONS of theories behind food cravings.
First, scientists, doctors, and nutritionists alike, thought that food cravings were borne out of a basic need that was not being met. You craved that juicy steak because you were deficient in protein or iron…
You craved chocolate for a different reason. You could have needed the antioxidants that are found in chocolate, or the sweet taste…
But along came other researchers that debunked that myth.
Due to the fact that people didn’t crave ALL types of food, like the ones that were good for them (dark leafy greens, fish, etc.), researchers needed to find another reason why…
So back to the drawing board they went!
It wasn’t until recently that researchers discovered that food cravings (and high-sugar foods) stimulate an area of your brain, your reward center, which could be one of the reasons why cravings are so strong.
But take note, this is the same area of your brain that is stimulated by drugs and alcohol.
So here is a closer look at what may happen in your brain when you have a food craving.
When you have a food craving, it stimulates those reward circuits in your brain, leaving you wanting more and more of the food. So you give in. Again and again.
So what happens to your brain then?
Some researchers think that your brain starts to slowly shut off dopamine receptors to prevent overexposure to the stimulus, in this case the food. And when there are less dopamine receptors working, it could result in an inability to become satisfied, which makes you eat more. Simply put, you eat more and more, waiting for your body to be “satisfied” in hopes that it will stop the food cravings. But the sad fact is: it may not stop it. You may need to eat more food in order to stop your particular craving. The cycle then keeps repeating itself, until you are full and miserable. Okay, so now you know a little bit about how your brain reacts to food cravings, now the next question is what do you do about it?
The Solution to Food Cravings
Before you give in to your next massive food craving, here are four things you can do that may decrease, or even eliminate your food cravings:
1. Practice Deep Breathing
Yogis practice the ancient art of deep breathing to relax, clear the mind, and to cleanse the body. However, deep breathing, just like they do in yoga, has been shown to DECREASE cravings. It’s true! And you may be able to do it in as little as 15 minutes per day!
One study showed that smokers, who performed deep breathing techniques, were less likely to crave a cigarette after performing the exercise. So next time you are craving a cupcake, take a few deep breaths, focus your mind, and cleanse your soul. You may find that your craving has passed and your desire for that food may be gone.
2. Remove Trigger Foods
This has to be the simplest way to curb your nasty food craving. If you have junk food in your house, or food that you know will trigger a food cravings later on, remove it and replace it with a healthier food alternative. This will give you a substitute for the food that you really want. Plus, if you don’t see the food, the chances of you craving it, could drop dramatically. So go ahead, clean out your cupboards, put in healthy, low-calorie, nutritious foods, and STOP your cravings dead in their tracks.
3. Add it Into Foods
This one is one of the newer approaches to stopping food cravings. Research has shown that if you include your food into, say a meal, then you could find your cravings reduced the next time around. So during your next meal, find what you are craving, and eat it!
4. Chew on a Sprig of Mint
This is another very simple tip that may go a long way in preventing food cravings. Now, you don’t have to eat a sprig of mint, but you can chew on a piece of mint gum. The reason why this may be effective: chewing on something minty may leave the sweet-tasting food you are craving, tasting AWFUL! So it may make you think twice next time you reach for that cupcake, pie, or piece of chocolate.
Now you know, deep breathing exercises, chewing minty gums (or leaves), eliminating the junk in the first place, and eating the foods you crave DURING a meal, could not only stop future cravings, but may even eliminate them FOREVER!