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The Facts About Food Cravings

7 ways to deal with those irresistible urges
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7 Tips About Food Cravings continued...

2. Make lower-calorie choices when possible

Will lower-calorie craving choices be as satisfying as the real deal? This depends on how great tasting the alternate food or beverages are. If you make lower-calorie, lower-fat brownies that taste just as yummy as regular brownies, they'll probably satisfy your fudge brownie craving. If you crave soda and you drink a glass of half diet soda and half real soda, chances are it will do the trick.

When Barbara Rolls, PhD, and colleagues from Pennsylvania State University fed 24 young women at their university laboratory, they found:

  • Women who ate lower-calorie, slightly smaller dishes were no hungrier than those who ate regular dishes.
  • Dieters liked the taste of the lower-calorie dishes just as much as that of the regular dishes.

3. Our environment is toxic

Everywhere we turn, our environment seems to be screaming at us to eat more fast food and junk food. "Unhealthy food is highly accessible, it's convenient, it's engineered to taste good, it's heavily promoted, and it's inexpensive. If you wanted to engineer a good food environment, you'd have the reverse of all that," says Kelly D. Brownell, PhD, director of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders.

4. Don't let yourself get too hungry

What happens when you skip a meal, or refrain from eating when you're truly hungry? Sooner or later, you get SO hungry that you end up overeating to compensate. It's in this state of extreme hunger that we tend to crave quick-fix foods like candy bars. Eating several meals through the day may help to control cravings and binge-type eating.

5. Start a cravings journal

If you have a real problem with food cravings, keep a cravings journal for a month. List the times of day you have cravings, the emotions you're feeling at the time, the foods you crave, and what and how much you ate. When you look back through your journal, ask yourself if there are any patterns, such as certain times of day when you tend to experience food cravings. Are there certain emotions or situations that tend to bring them on?

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