The Power of Cravings
Have you ever started eating a food and found that you could not stop? Let’s say it was a bag of potato chips.
Then later on, when you’re feeling peckish again and you know you have some more chips in your food cupboard, you find yourself drawn back to it to finish them off.
This is the power of cravings – the ability of a food to make you come crawling back if you had the willpower in the first place to put them down, which is not easy in itself.
Steer Clear of Processed Foods
I have one simple rule that I try to follow (it doesn’t always work out that way, but I keep it as a guideline in my head).
It’s better to eat foods with only ONE ingredient.
Focus your diet around these types of foods, as much as you can.
The companies that create these potato chips and all sorts of other snacky processed foods, they want you to get those cravings. They want you to come back for more, time and time again. It’s in their interests to add ingredients to their foods that makes this happen.
Always assume that these companies have modified or engineered their food to cause you to crave it.
Of course, not all processed foods are like this, but it’s safe to assume it’s the case 95% of the time.
The Craving Scenario
You’re sitting comfortably in your living room, maybe watching television or reading your favorite book.
Then it hits you – you crave that chocolate bar or leftover slice of pizza in the kitchen.
At first, it’s just a little alarm ringing in your head going off, and you can ignore it. It then grows, however, getting louder and louder until you simply can’t ignore it for another second.
The types of food that people typically crave are high fat, high calorie foods. You’ll never usually crave for leafy vegetables like spinach or broccoli for instance.
Cravings are not caused by hunger – they do not originate from your stomach, they come from your brain. When you fulfill your cravings, you are doing it to modify your mood, not to satiate your appetite. The reason this happens is because you are either in a depressed mood and need a lift, or you just require a boost of energy at that moment in time.
Yes, cravings simply make us happy when we fulfill them. Some people believe cravings exist when we have a nutritional deficiency, and it is the body’s way of telling us what we need to eat. This is a myth, however. You do not need a huge bag of Lays chips because your body is telling you that you require a bit more salt in your diet.
Vegetarians are a good example of people who get cravings. They will sometimes succumb to the cravings for a bit of beef, bacon or other animal meats. Again, they will feel that their body is telling them that their body needs meat from time to time – when in reality it’s simply the brain wanting that pleasure and reward.
Be prepared! Don’t try to fight the cravings in a mental battle, as the cravings will always win.
Instead, have your healthy snacks ready and waiting, perhaps in a bowl outside of the cupboard. Try not to buy too many unhealthy foods during your weekly shopping. If you need to go all the way down to the shop for a bar of chocolate, you might feel less inclined to go do so.
When the cravings hit, you also have other options. You could do something completely different, maybe something else that brings you pleasure. Like going for a jog round the local park, for instance. This will release hormones that will make you feel good, and hopefully forget about those cravings.
If you simply must get a sugar/fat boost, then limit yourself. Don’t carry an entire bag of snacks to the couch – put a small amount in a bowl and sit down with it. Have something that isn’t incredibly unhealthy – maybe a few raisins or a bit of honey will kick that sugar craving away.