We all have sporadic food cravings during the day. If you feel a craving and it’s time to replenish your body with nourishment, this is a healthy signal that requires your response. But many cravings aren’t true hunger signals, and if you’re coaxed into eating, you’ll consume excessive calories. Whether it’s a hormonal imbalance that day (or week), boredom, social comfort, depression, or the “see it and eat it” urge, these are unhealthy cravings that lead to unwanted pounds.
So how do you control yourself and push that nagging voice aside? Is it your appetite or brain that’s calling? The answer may surprise you. Recent studies have shown that when you eat fatty foods, there’s a hormone produced in the brain called galanin that actually encourages eating when your body doesn’t need it and slows your energy expenditure. If an elevation in the amount of fat occurs, such as when eating a high-fat diet, triglycerides in the bloodstream activate hormones such as galanin to promote overeating.
Here are some helpful ways to “starve off” these unhealthy cravings:
Drink up. Often these cravings are merely thirst-related because people don’t drink enough water. Drink at least eight 12-ounce glasses of fluids daily.
Don’t skip breakfast. Your body has gone hours without eating, which makes breakfast the most important meal of the day. Eat a good balanced breakfast to get the brain functioning correctly and the body moving without being sluggish.
Mind over stomach. If you’re hungry after you’ve eaten a well-balanced meal, give yourself 20 minutes for the “I’m full” signal to hit the brain.
Avoid processed foods. They’re usually stripped of filling elements, such as fiber and water, and leave you feeling unsatisfied.
Eat regularly. Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating.
Make changes gradually. If you change too much too fast, it can get in the way of success. Live one day at a time and one change at a time!