By Edeline Anne Goh
Those sudden late night cravings for a juicy burger or that urge to indulge in your favourite bag of potato chips. Cravings, cravings, cravings… We’ve all had a fair share of experiences when it comes to our mind (or stomach) ‘begging’ us for that particular food; be it sweet, salty, spicy or even bitter.
In fact, some might get all worked up when they can’t get what they ‘desperately’ crave. If all methods fail, they might just end up making a highly inconvenient detour just to buy the dessert they’ve been longing for or run to the neighbourhood 7-Eleven in the middle of the night just to get their hands on a candy bar.
A craving can be defined as a powerful desire for something. In this case, we’re talking about something that almost everyone has felt before – the powerful, deep and seemingly endless desire for junk food! Small amounts of junk food may be fairly harmless but when fulfilling a craving, many of us are guilty of consuming far more than we should. So, how do you master such cravings before it takes over your health and your life?
Rule #1 No Artificial Sweeteners
According to Keri Glassman, the author of O2 Diet, artificial sweeteners make you crave for more sugar instead of curbing it. Plus, if you’re thinking of swapping sugar with non-caloric sweeteners to curb your sugar cravings thinking that this may help maintain your weight or diet plan, you might want to stop. An article published in The Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine states that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose might even have a reverse effect on sugar cravings. So, if you absolutely must have a sugary treat, opt for the real stuff instead of artificial versions. Just remember to have small portions of sweeties and savour each bite to the fullest.
Rule #2 Make Friends Not Enemies
Acknowledge your cravings and be sure to fulfill them. Don’t shun them or try to ignore them as this will only make you crave even more for whatever junk food that you can’t stop thinking about. The tip here is to eat smart. For example, if you’re craving for potato chips, just take 3 chips in your hand, close the bag or container and slowly eat them over a period of 10 minutes. Practice this and you’ll see your ability to avoid digging in for more, will improve greatly.
Rule #3 Candy Jar
If you’re hoping we’re going to say “stock up a candy jar with your favourite candies”, we’re sorry to disappoint! Instead, the idea is to have an empty candy jar for you to store junk food wrappers after you’ve eaten them. Why not throw them away? Storing candy wrappers in a jar will allow you to keep track of the amount you’ve consumed. So, the next time you have a junk food craving, look at the jar to see just how much junk food you’ve had lately and you might find that it’s a little easier to resist your next craving.
Rule #4 Work it out!
Yes it’s been said before but it’s worth saying again: exercise is absolutely essential for your health and it can even help to effectively curb your junk food cravings. So, this serves as a gentle reminder that when you have a craving, turn to exercise for help. Just an hour of moderate exercise can raise levels of serotonin in the brain which helps to control your cravings. A good workout is also an effective solution for food addicts for the same reason.
Rule #5 Drink Tea
A wonderful phytonutrient, particularly found in green tea which is known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) helps to increase the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK). CCK is responsible for creating that satisfied, full feeling that you get after a good meal. So, when you’re craving unhealthy junk food, steep some green tea to increase your CCK levels. Another plus point? If consumed regularly, green tea also improves your body’s fat burning ability.
Rule #6 Chew Gum
Many studies have shown that chewing just one stick of gum can help to reduce and curb cravings. This includes a study which was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society in 2007. It found that chewing gum before a snack helps to reduce hunger, curb cravings and promote satiety among those who limit their calorie intake. Besides that, chewing gum also has positive effects on oral health, increases focus and promotes stress relief.
So, the next time you have an overpowering urge to eat a whole bag of potato chips or an entire box of doughnuts, try out each of these 6 rules and see which ones are the most effective in helping you master your cravings!