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Change the Situation

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Change your cravings

If you suffer from food cravings, you know they can be intense and arise quickly.  One school of thought, the conditioning model, says that cravings can develop from a combination of consumption and stimuli (or eating and environment).  Think eating popcorn at the movies, stopping for coffee at the airport on your way to the gate or snacking on dark chocolate at 3pm each day at the office.  Basically, cravings are part of a cycle, the more we eat the foods as part of a scenario like pizza night on Fridays, the more we condition ourselves to eat them.  It’s a strong relationship, so much so that research suggests cravings can account for up to 11% difference in body weight.  Think about that; this means the average 150 pound person can attribute 16.5 pounds to situational eating! 

A review of 28 peer reviewed scientific studies, published in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity revealed, for the first time, that desire for certain foods could be reduced if you eat the craved item less frequently.  For example, a group who self-reported a craving for chocolate was asked to go without it while maintaining their usual diet.  After two weeks they found that their cravings were reduced. Cravings were not reduced if participants simply ate less of the craved item; the eating occasion had to be removed altogether to be effective in reducing the craving.  Researchers also observed that both weight loss and physical activity resulted in fewer cravings.    

Cravings can range from the urge for salty foods like bacon or nuts, to the urge for sweets like chocolate or iced cream.  If you find it hard to cut out your favorites all together these swaps may help mitigate the damage: 

Published March 1, 2019

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