I think we all understand that there is a difference between hunger and cravings. But it becomes harder to differentiate between the two when food is placed in front of us. In general, when we are actually hungry, any food will do. Although we may have a preference of what sounds good, we really are just ready to eat whatever. Cravings on the other hand are much more specific. We need a specific food and we need it NOW.
Because it affects all of us, a lot of research has been done on reducing cravings. What has been found is that individuals that have intense cravings report having vivid images of the food they are craving. In fact, it takes so much brain power that they are unable to complete basic cognitive functions like recalling events or solving math problems. But, it can work in the opposite direction as well. If we direct our brain power toward something productive, cravings may decrease.
So what can we take from this? When cravings hit, wait them out. Channel your energy into something productive. I don’t believe we can’t ever give into cravings, just not too often. And, in order to help prevent cravings to begin with, be sure you are eating consistent, well-balanced meals. This will help to keep blood sugar levels steady and you will notice less cravings and less preoccupation with food.
What do you do to reduce cravings? How do you respond to cravings once they hit?
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD