Crush your cravings and defeat overeating
Published July 11, 2022
Do you get cravings for chocolate, an intense desire for salty potato chips or an overwhelming yearning for a cheese‐laden pizza? Food cravings, while extremely common, occur for different reasons for different people. Clinical studies have linked food cravings to emotional cues such as boredom and stress or environmental cues such as easy access to junk food, advertising or time of day. Who hasn’t reached for a chocolate biscuit to get them through the 3 o’clock slump?
Food cravings can lead to overeating
Overeating is a relative term referring to eating more energy then you expend, contributing to weight gain. Overeating can be described as active — when we overeat at Christmas — and passive — hidden calories in processed foods. The two main contributors to frequent overeating are the abundance of inexpensive high calorie processed (junk) foods in our diet and lack of exercise.
Food cravings and overeating on the odd occasion won’t cause any harm. But if you’re overeating unhealthy snack foods laden with sugar, salt and bad fats regularly, this can lead to weight gain, fatigue and negative impacts on your physical and mental health. So taking steps to crush your cravings and increase your exercise will help improve your waistline and your general wellbeing.
Tips for crushing cravings and regaining control
- Choose low carbohydrate foods — Low carbohydrate diets have been linked to reduced cravings. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and non-starchy vegetables, lean meat and fish, eggs, whole grains and legumes.
- Relieve stress the healthy way — Food cravings, especially for carbohydrates, can arise when we’re stressed or anxious. Carbohydrates boost our levels of serotonin, which has a calming effect on the body. As an alternative, try relaxation techniques such as yoga, mindfulness meditation or tai chi.
- Increase dietary Chromium — Chromium supports the metabolism of carbohydrates. Chromium can be found in meats, wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices and brewer’s yeast. However, the amount of chromium in foods varies widely depending on local soil conditions. Speak to your health practitioner to see if Chromium supplementation may be right for you.
- Increase your good fats — Keeping these essential fats in balance helps you stay healthy and metabolise your foods effectively. Boosting your omega-3 fats and reducing your omega-6 fats from processed foods will help support the healthy metabolism of nutrients.
- Exercise portion control — Don’t fall for the ‘all you can eat’ marketing strategies of junk food manufacturers. Put down the jumbo bag of potato chips and the party size bag of lollies. If you like to enjoy the occasional treat, go for quality over quantity. Buy a smaller block of good quality chocolate and mindfully savour the taste. Jumbo packs are only good for boosting junk food manufacturers bottom line and your waistline.
- Consider adequate intake of water — Studies have shown that drinking water before meals or snacks can help reduce the amount of food you eat and when incorporated into a healthy eating plan can help you maintain a healthy weight. Help your body feel full and prevent overeating by drinking water before meals and snacking.
- Change your habits — Food cravings are usually the result of habits, not the body crying out for specific nutrients. If you know you snack blindly on potato chips in front of the TV, or eat a muffin with your afternoon cuppa, switch it up. Try some freshly popped popcorn with a dash of cinnamon and enjoy the taste and aroma or swap the muffin for a juicy mango or sweet mandarin depending on what’s in season.
- Eat mindfully — Practicing mindfulness helps you increase your awareness of and response to emotional stress. Incorporating mindfulness into your eating approach helps you identify the difference between emotional eating and eating for nutritional needs. Mindful eating has been shown in clinical trials to improve weight, eating behaviour and mental wellbeing.
- Exercise — Overeating and lack of exercise are often two sides of the same coin. Increasing your exercise helps you burn off excess calories and reduces your risk of overeating.
- Catch you ZZZZ’s — Studies have shown that poor sleep leads to increased hunger, cravings and poor dietary choices. Improve your sleep with our sleep management tips or speak to your healthcare professional about which of our sleep products is right for you.
Cravings and overeating are a challenge many of us face at some time in our lives. Understanding that cravings result from an emotional or external source can help you identify your craving triggers and help you change your habits. Increasing your exercise can also help burn calories and reduce the impact of overeating.
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