Health & Wellness

Have a Bad Craving? Here’s How to Curb It

By Tawnya Manion | July 14, 2013

Cravings hit, and sometimes, they hit hard. But if you know how to handle them, you can occasionally dive in into the “bad stuff” without wrecking your diet or weight loss plans. Typically, we crave foods that contain copious amounts of fats and calories. Wouldn’t it be nice if we craved carrots or apples instead of chocolate brownies or deep dish pizza?

Many people experience a guilty conscious after giving in to their urges, but you can take comfort in the fact that powerful food cravings aren’t exactly your fault—-it’s neurological. According to Dr. Susan B. Roberts of Tuft University, “The sensation of craving is considered to be  sensation of “need” that we experience as “have to have it” feelings, arising out of dopamine and b-endorphin circuits in the ventral striatum and other mid-brain areas, and is related to hedonic pleasures, which is just about the taste of food.” What does this all mean? Frequently, strong urges to eat calorie dense foods are triggered by hunger, stress or even the sight or smell of fare, but if you follow these three steps you can beat the urge or at least control it so you don’t blow your diet.

Take a few bites then give yourself 15 minutes. In a study done at Cornell University, researchers separated participants into two groups. One group was served regular size portions of either chocolate, apple pie, or potato chips, and the other set just a few bites of the same items. After 15 minutes, all candidates said their cravings had become sated. In other words, urges to eat certain foods is not based on the body’s need for calories; therefore, a little nibble goes a long way.

Never deprive yourself. If you are having a strong pull towards a certain food, have some. As we learned from the Cornell study on cravings, a little bit can go a long way, and if you give in to your urge only slightly it will help you from binging later.

Fake-out your cravings. Next time you crave fried foods like onion rings or fried chicken, faux-fry them to reduce the damage of your hankerings. Do this by setting out bowls, one that contains egg whites and the other a combination of grated Parmesan, whole-wheat flour, and Panko breadcrumbs. Dredge the food items in each bowl, then put on a cookie sheet, and place in a 450 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.

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