Chicago Health | Homepage
5 tips for conquering food cravings

5 tips for conquering food cravings

By Rachael Moeller Gorman

People who suffer from alcohol or drug addiction have a lot in common with people who chronically crave food: they are highly conditioned to abuse their substance of choice, says Nora Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). If thinking about food rules your life, seek help from a professional. But if you’re someone dealing with occasional cravings, restructuring your day and planning ahead can help you resist overwhelming temptation. Here’s how.

Anticipate moments of weakness.

“You preset yourself [to say], no matter what, you’re not going to allow yourself to be tempted by the food,” says Volkow. “It’s much easier to control your urges if you do it beforehand than if they take you by surprise.” For example, if you tend to binge on candy while working at your computer, cut up melon and keep it on your desk so you’re less likely to visit the vending machine. If you know you can polish off an entire bag of chips while watching a movie, make some air-popped popcorn. Popcorn is a whole grain, and when it’s not drowning in butter or overly salted, it can be a healthy, low-calorie substitute for chips or pretzels.

Take one flavor at a time.

There’s a reason you can still eat dessert at a restaurant, even when you’ve just eaten a big meal. “If I give you just one item, say, apples, you will get saturated with the flavor of apples,” says Volkow. “But if I mixed different alternative flavors, you actually can go from one to the other,” eating a lot more than if you only had one type of food on your plate. So keep your meal relatively simple. Try cooking (or ordering) a source of protein, a whole-grain side and cooked vegetables or salad. And skip the buffet; taking a little of this and a little of that is a recipe for overeating.

Ban eating in the car and in front of the TV.

It’s easy to sit down with a snack in front of the TV or in the car only to realize later that you’ve eaten more than double (or triple) the serving size you’d anticipated. Distracted eating usually leads to overeating (or an accident!). “Set up a space for eating so these other activities and spaces don’t get conditioned with the food,” suggests Volkow. Then eat only at the table, using a plate and doing nothing but eating and talking to your tablemates.

Don’t skimp on shut-eye.

“It has now been recognized that sleep deprivation increases the risk of overeating and obesity,” says Volkow. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep a night for adults. Less than that, and you’ll experience a lack of self-control that can lead to overeating, and even a chemical reaction in your body that prompts you to eat more than you typically would when you’re not tired.

Keep your cool.

“When a person is stressed, that decreases their ability to exert control over desires,” says Volkow. Squelch your stress with exercise: you can schedule daily workouts for a natural high. Volkow also recommends keeping your workout bag packed and ready to use for during high-pressure times. “If I am in a very stressful condition,” she says, “I go and I run.”

(EatingWell is a magazine and website devoted to healthy eating as a way of life. Online at www.eatingwell.com.)

(c) 2016 EATING WELL, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Food as Medicine

Food as Medicine

How what you eat affects your mood By Nancy Maes “You are what you eat” may seem

Gut Relief

Gut Relief

Low-FODMAP diet may help those with stomach ills By Victoria Shanta Retelny, RDN Let’s face it, when

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

April 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
March 26, 2017 March 27, 2017 March 28, 2017 March 29, 2017 March 30, 2017 March 31, 2017 April 1, 2017
April 2, 2017 April 3, 2017 April 4, 2017 April 5, 2017 April 6, 2017 April 7, 2017 April 8, 2017
April 9, 2017 April 10, 2017 April 11, 2017 April 12, 2017 April 13, 2017 April 14, 2017 April 15, 2017
April 16, 2017 April 17, 2017 April 18, 2017 April 19, 2017 April 20, 2017 April 21, 2017 April 22, 2017
April 23, 2017 April 24, 2017 April 25, 2017 April 26, 2017 April 27, 2017 April 28, 2017 April 29, 2017
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

Cost to give birth 1943 - Page 3 - Defending The Truth Political Forum

A Hazy Shade of Healthcare: What does tort reform

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives