How to Curb Food Cravings

6 steps to eat right and avoid hunger pangs

Alan R. Hirsch, M.D., author of What Flavor Is Your Personality? and founder of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, indicates in his book that cravings have a physical component. The self-help archives are filled with ways to curb food cravings — drinking lots of water, staying away from certain foods, etc. Food cravings may be fueled by hormonal imbalances, diet or lifestyle. Fatigue and insomnia are common problems that lead us to chocolate, full of serotonin, an antidepressant.

Step 1: Meet with your physician

Overcoming cravings begins with talking to your physician during your yearly checkup. Make sure you don’t have a hormonal imbalance or another medical condition that may be causing your food cravings.

Step 2: Control what you see and smell

According to Susan Roberts, Ph.D., director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University, what you see and smell has an impact on food cravings. Roberts recommends breathing through your mouth when you smell something that tempts you, and averting your eyes if you see a mouth-watering treat, in order to overcome food cravings.

Step 3: Change your diet for a cure

Tricks to curb food cravings work, like taking a whiff of mint and walking for 15 minutes, but a permanent cure lies in changing your diet. What really works to stop cravings in the long run is a proper diet. According to Roberts, you can curb your food cravings by eating the right foods at the right times. Keeping your hunger satisfied by eating healthy foods helps train your body to crave healthy foods at healthy intervals.

Look honestly at your diet. Frequent dieting is stressful to the body. George L. Blackburn reports in the September 2001 Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine that a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet results in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that your cells cannot absorb the glucose they need, so they signal your brain that you need more carbohydrates or sugars.

Step 4: Find foods and supplements that reduce the cravings

The Journal of Psychiatric Practice published a study in 2005 on atypical depression using chromium picolinate that showed no effect on depression but did show promise in the area of carbohydrate craving relief. There is research available on a variety of cravings and what foods or supplements may reduce the cravings. As with any dietary supplement, always consult your doctor to ensure this is the right step for you.

Step 5: Increase calcium in your diet

Curb food cravings for salty foods by increasing calcium; add supplements and vitamins to your diet. According to Michael Tordoff, Ph.D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, studies have shown that women who have calcium-deficient diets crave foods high in sodium more than those women who get sufficient amounts of calcium.

Step 6: Acknowledge beneficial cravings

You may not want to stop all of your cravings for chocolate. Chocolate stimulates the release of serotonin, according to Hirsch. It's an antidepressant that we need when our happy chemicals need a boost.

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