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How to Stop Food Cravings for Good?

January 09, 2019 4 min read

How to Stop Food Cravings for Good?

How to Stop Food Cravings for good? This is a popular question that people ask themselves particularly after the festive season or a holiday where you have been eating high sugar and high fat foods. Whether it is a craving for specific food types, like chocolate, foods high in sugar or carbohydrates, cravings seem to constantly get in the way when it comes to staying on track with exercise, nutrition and weight loss.

There seems to be a connection between food and mood and a frequently proposed theory is that a lot of people eat (carbohydrates) to elevate mood. This occurs through increases in a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin. Serotonin is known to have a positive affect on mood.

Chocolate is the food most typically associated with reports of food cravings. Chocolate cravings are endorsed by 40% of women and 15% of men and although many chocolate cravers report and overall preference for sweet foods, most report that other foods will not suffice to satisfy a craving for chocolate. While all food promotes a reward response in the brain in a negative energy balance as a means of encouraging eating, high sugary foods have been shown to elicit larger amounts of pleasure and reward neurotransmitter dopamine which plays a role in habit formation.

A blood sugar dip due to many hours between eating or in response to high simple carbohydrate intake can make your body scream for something sugary! Emotions can also cause a sense of ‘need’ for non-nutritious foods.

How to Stop Food Cravings?

  • Eating regularly (every 3 hours) is key to avoiding a dip in blood sugar levels and in turn having cravings for food with little to no nutritional value.

    Eating healthy fats can also help with cravings. Healthy fats are good for you, but they also help suppress your appetite because they keep you full longer than other types of food.

    If you find yourself craving junk food, try to indulge in a healthy version instead. For example, if you crave chocolate, make your own chocolate bar using raw cacao powder, coconut oil, dates and nuts. It’s much healthier than consuming processed chocolate from a shop!

  • Eating smaller meals more often will stop you going in to starvation mode which causes a change in neurotransmitters and hormones.

    When you're hungry, your brain sends signals to your stomach, telling it to produce ghrelin (the hormone that makes you hungry). When you're full, the opposite happens — your brain sends signals to stop producing ghrelin.

    Studies have shown that frequent eating can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce cravings for high-carbohydrate foods. So if you're trying to cut back on sweets or other junk food, don't skip meals; instead, eat small meals every two hours or so throughout the day.

    Eating breakfast helps control cravings for sugary snacks later in the day. Research shows that people who skip breakfast are more likely to overeat later in the day than those who eat breakfast regularly — especially high-carbohydrate foods like pastries and doughnuts.

  • Prioritise nutrient-rich foods like nuts or substitute your chocolate fix for a sugar free chocolate protein bar.

    These options won't do much for your waistline but they will satisfy your sweet tooth without doing any damage to your health.
  • Enforcing regular meals and snacks comprising of complex carbohydrate and protein will help to stabilise blood sugar levels.

    This is because complex carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which then enters the bloodstream, whereas simple carbohydrates are digested rapidly and produce a rapid rise in blood glucose levels (known as 'spikes').
  • Retrain your brain by having a period of abstinence from sugar and simple carbohydrates. Break the circuit!

    If you want to break the cycle of food cravings, there are several things you can do to retrain your brain. The first is to have a period of abstinence from sugar and simple carbohydrates. This means that for about two weeks, you cut out all sweets, soda pop, fruit juices and other foods high in these types of carbohydrates. The idea is that after a while, when you start eating these foods again they won't taste as good as they used to because they'll be associated with cravings and discomfort rather than pleasure.
  • Plan your meals for the week so that you have nutritious meals and snacks on hand.

    It takes some planning, but it’s worth it. When you know what you’re having for dinner and have the ingredients on hand, you’re less likely to reach for something unhealthy when a craving hits.

Using a tasty whey protein can help to acheive some of the above points (eat every 3 hours, eat smaller meals, prioritise nutrient rich foods, regular snacks with protein, replace sugar with sweet protein shakes etc).

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Having a well-balanced diet including protein, complex carbohydrates, vegetables and grains will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Snacking on foods like nuts and berries will also provide other nutrient-rich alternatives to chocolate and sugary foods. Balance is all about eating well, but also being able to treat yourself without binging. We hope this has answered your question of “How to Stop Food Cravings for good?”

References for How to Stop Food Cravings For Good:

  1. Nutr. March 1, 2003, vol.133 no 3 835S-837S
  2. Women health & fitness, December 2015, vol.21 no.12

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