Cravings can be a big problem for anyone trying to lose weight, keep up a balanced diet or maintain a healthy diet. We recently caught up with Jennifer Simmons, director of nutrition services for L A Weight Loss to learn more about cravings, how to stop them, and obtain other great diet tips.
LovetoKnow: What kinds of cravings are the most common for dieters?
Jennifer Simmons: Carbohydrates, salty foods, chocolate, and other sweets are some of the most common cravings reported.
LTK: Do women have different cravings than men do?
JS: From my experience, it seems that women have more carbohydrate and sweets cravings then men.
LTK: How can you tell if a craving is physical or emotional?
JS: This is often difficult to determine. The current definition for food craving is: An intense desire to consume a particular food or food type that is difficult to resist. This definition has generally not been accepted by the scientific community. We are born with an innate taste for sweet and salt. As we grow up, we often identify foods that help fill an emotional need. The best guide to ask yourself is: Am I really hungry? Am I eating out of habit? Why am I craving this particular food?
Dealing with Cravings
LTK: What's the best way to deal with physical cravings? How about emotional?
JS: The best way to deal with any craving whether physical or emotional is to make sure to eat a balanced diet, with a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Consume small frequent meals instead of large meals. Aim to have four to six small meals per day.
LTK: Should we ever give in to our cravings?
JS: Yes. Research has shown that frequent dieters often have more food cravings than non-dieters. By constantly restricting oneself from his/her cravings, this could set the person up for overeating the particular food that is craved.
LTK: How can we keep from going overboard when we decide to indulge?
JS: The key point to remember is portion control. When you do have a particular food that you are craving, take the time to enjoy it. Make sure you don't have any distractions, sit-down, and consume that item slowly.
LTK: What's your top tip for getting past diet hurdles?
JS: Make small changes at a time. Pick one specific goal you would like to work on and stick with that goal for at least two weeks before adding an additional goal. Your goal could be as small as decreasing your regular soda consumption to taking a daily 15 minute walk. Small changes will add up over time and it will make it easier to turn these small changes into lifelong habits.
LTK: Are there ways to eat that can keep us from having cravings, or at least make them less severe?
JS: Don't go too long without eating. Start every day with breakfast. By eating small frequent meals, you will be less likely to overeat at a specific meal or snack. Before giving in to a specific craving, ask yourself: Why am I craving this? Do I need to have it now? What else can I do to satisfy my need?
By asking yourself some simple questions, you can identify if it is the chocolate you are really craving or is it an emotional need that you can find satisfaction from by talking to a friend or taking a walk?