How to control Craving?
I have decided to write on this topic as many of my friends have asked to assist them in this regard not only since last few days but over last few years… I think I am eligible to write this because craving for food or craving in general is something I have overcome successfully. I had done it oblivious to the scientific facts. So before writing down this blog I have done some research on the theory of cravings.
Apologies for a lengthier blog. It had to serve its purpose 🙂
Let us first understand what we mean by cravings?
By and large craving in general is understood as craving for food. But is it true?
No craving is a strong desire for anything that gives you pleasure… Really I find an oxymoron here because I personally find pain more desirable than pleasure but its ok I think I am a bizarre case that can be safely ignored. So the first thing we need to understand is that craving is not only for food but also for any other pleasure giving activity it may be for watching a series, having sex or even travelling.
Now the question is why we have cravings?
Lets examine what happens in our brain that results in craving. Our brain registers all pleasures in the same way, whether they originate with a psychoactive drug, a monetary reward, a sexual encounter, or a satisfying meal. In the brain, pleasure has a distinct signature: the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, a cluster of nerve cells lying underneath the cerebral cortex. Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens is so consistently tied with pleasure that neuroscientists refer to the region as the brain’s pleasure center. But only the experience of pleasure alone is not enough to prompt people to continue seeking a substance or activity. The situation here is more complicated. Dopamine not only contributes to the experience of pleasure, but also plays a role in learning and memory—two key elements that play an important role in the transition from liking something to becoming addicted to it. Dopamine interacts with another neurotransmitter, glutamate, to take over the brain’s system of reward-related learning. This system has an important role in sustaining life because it links activities needed for human survival (such as eating and sex) with pleasure and reward.
So this is how cravings happen.. 🙂
So are both men and women equally susceptible to this? – NO
Women are especially vulnerable to cravings. In a study, scientists used PET scans to look at the brain activity of people as they were exposed to the sight, smell, and taste of foods. Women had a harder time ignoring their cravings than men did, and they also expressed a greater initial desire for the foods. If we see this biologically, food is more important to women than men because women need to eat for two in order to successfully reproduce. We humans have evolved to ensure survival by making these urges stronger in women.
Now moving to the concluding section. How to control our cravings for unhealthy and junk food?
Here go my top picks:
Avoid keeping Junk at reach.
Fill your refrigerator and kitchen with healthy stuff like fruits egg juices and high fiber biscuits.
Turn off triggers.
Break patterns that encourage binges. Are you a postwork snacker? Come home through a door that doesn’t lead to the kitchen and you’ll be less likely to graze. 😉
Ride the crave.
When the cravings hits you. Tell yourself that the feeling may pass in 10 minutes. Focus on your breathing, taking in your surroundings. Are you eating out of sadness or frustration? If so, address your feelings and let your yen naturally diminish. If your stomach’s still growling, have something nutritious/healthy
Feed your hunger.
Going past hungry to ravenous might make you choose junk. In a research mice injected with high doses of ghrelin preferred a room where they had previously found high-fat food over one where they expected to find less fat and sugar. Eat protein and fiber at every meal to keep ghrelin gremlins at bay.
Cutting out a food you love only makes you want it more. Go for a healthier subsitutes like sneakers for normal chocolate.
Flip the script/ Positive self-image
Stop negative self-talk: I ate junk. I’m weak and I’ve blown my diet. I might as well keep going. Instead talk yourself up: So I ate a bit of junk. It’s no big deal. It won’t make me fat. I can stop now and feel good about myself.
Self-control is a limited resource for most of us, so if we try to tackle your morning doughnut, afternoon chips and evening ice cream in one swoop, we’ll be sunk. Allot willpower to one behavior at a time. When a day without doughnuts becomes the norm, move on to the next goal.
Reach for fruits/The healthy ones
Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You’ll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness.
Waiting too long between meals may set you up to choose sugary, fatty foods that cut your hunger. Instead, eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable and also help you to avoid irrational eating behavior. Your best bets are protein and fiber-rich foods like whole grains.
Women especially have a profound emotional reaction to music. Try upbeat playlists to listen to whenever a food craving strikes.
Choose the best distraction.
What you are really craving is to feel better. You should have heard the trick about phoning a friend or exercising instead of eating. Try a distraction that serves you well.
This is a new theory I discovered while researching. I have not tried it though. Drink two glasses of water and eat an ounce of nuts (6 walnuts, 12 almonds or 20 peanuts). Within 20 minutes, this can extinguish your craving and dampen your appetite by changing your body chemistry. Worth a try 🙂
Take a Power Nap
Generally cravings sneak up when we are tired. Focus on the fatigue rather than food shut the door, close your eyes, re-energize.
Finally my old advice to all my readers that worked for me and will surely work for you. The good old horsepower brute force approach, believe that you have the will to control the craving make your determination so firm that cravings don’t even bother you. Trust me on this you will love to live this way