Experts Offer Help for Fighting Food Cravings
Golden, salty French fries. Hot glazed doughnuts. A hot fudge sundae piled with whipped cream. If you feel that your cravings for forbidden foods have taken over your life, you're not alone. Dr. Mike Roizen and other nutrition experts offer their insights in helping you win at weight loss, and we're offering their best tips below.
Dr. Roizen's Tips
"We know weight loss isn't as simple as "eat less and exercise more." You need ways to get over the humps, around the cravings, and through the temptation to binge," says Dr. Roizen. He offers these suggestions on taking charge of those temptations:
- Practice mindful meditation. Dr. Roizen suggests setting aside seven minutes daily to focus "on recognizing, accepting, and experiencing your cravings rather than trying to ignore or suppress them."
- Get on your feet. Taking a fast walk can counteract those cravings in only 15 minutes.
- Hit the mute button and do sit-ups when commercials come on. By exercising rather than focusing on advertisements, you'll succeed more easily.
- Try yoga. You'll feel stronger, become calmer and learn to sense true hunger versus emotional eating.
- Have that little cookie you can't stop thinking about. If you're fixated on something sweet, "having one little cookie now may save you from having 30 later. Don't beat yourself up. Relish it. Take a small bite, savor the taste, have another bite. Thoroughly enjoy it. Then move on."
Diet expert Kirsi Paalanen recommends choosing the right carbohydrates carefully. "A sugar craving is simply your body asking for energy. When sugar is digested in the body it becomes glucose. Glucose is what fuels our body and cells and essential for maintaining your energy levels. Eating the right type of carbs helps your body maintain a steady flow of energy into the body and wards off blood sugar highs and lows," she says.
However, simple carbohydrates can send you into a spiral of highs and lows. Instead, she recommends natural, unprocessed foods such as fruit. "Try whole grains too, like brown rice, quinoa, barley or even millet. Sweet vegetables can be really effective as well to ward off sugar cravings. Try carrots, sweet potatoes and beets," she says.
Seek balance, from a balanced diet to a balanced lifestyle. "Our bodies sometimes trigger a craving in us when we are off balance," she notes. And part of that balanced lifestyle involves doing "something you love,' says Kirsi. "Often we feel a need to reach out for our favorite food when we are stressed, anxious, bored or even just sad. Instead of reaching out for the oreo or bag of chips when our emotions get the better of us, do something you enjoy. Talk to a friend, go on a walk or to the gym, dance, sing or whatever makes your heart sing."
And from Robert DeVito of Innovation Fitness Solutions comes these tips:
"Managing food cravings is a simple but difficult process. In my experience, I have seen that most often when an individual makes an emotional judgment and gives into eating when they are not hungry it is often do to temporarily losing sight of their goal(s) and/or continuation of habits." Among the keys to taking charge of your cravings:
- Develop a mantra. Something like: "I feed my body and my needs, not my taste buds."
- Ask yourself questions like: "Why am I going to eat this? Is it because I actually want it and need it or am I reactively responding to an immediate desire?"
- Keep focused on your goal. Post it in sight at work and at home and refer to it often.
- Drink a glass of water to slow the decision making process down. Water can make you feel a little fuller AND it will give you something to do while deciding if you are actually going to give in to your cravings.