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Cravings Can Be Harmful: Understanding And Defeating Them

Cravings Can Be Harmful: Understanding And Defeating Them

By Chef Selwyn Richards
Cuisine Specialist

Selwyn Richards headshot Sep 2014  ChefAccording to a study, published by the US National Library of Medicine’s National Institute of Health, on the effects of cravings and depression, it found that, “Fast-food and commercial baked goods consumption may have a detrimental effect on depression risk.” In other words, eating junk food may be linked to an increase in depression. Cravings can have many harmful effects on you.

  1. Weight gain
    Eating excessive amounts of sugar, processed foods, fatty foods, drinking alcohol, and consuming salt can add extra pounds to even the healthiest person.
  2. Health issues
    Salty and fatty foods can both lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Sugary foods like diet soft drinks can lead to heart attacks, dangerous blood clots and other cardiovascular problems.
  3. Alcohol cravings
    Craving alcohol can lead to physical problems like liver disease, gout, cancer, pancreas and the immune system.
  4. Dental problems
    Sugary, processed foods as well as alcohol can all lead to dental problems ranging from tooth decay to gum disease.
  5. Psychological issues
    Trying to control your craving for certain foods and not being able to stop can lead to thoughts of low self-esteem, believing something is wrong with you and other thought issues.

Craving foods can be harmful to your physical and mental health in many ways. It’s important to learn how to overcome these cravings in healthy ways.

PizzaOvercoming Cravings
Now that you know why you are craving certain foods, it’s time to find ways to overcome them. Overcoming cravings might seem simple but it can be one of the hardest things to do. Here are the latest tricks from researchers and experts:

Avoid your triggers
“You crave what you eat, so if you switch what you’re eating, you can weaken your old cravings and strengthen new ones,” says Marcia Pelchat, PhD, of the Monell Center. Gradually cutting out and avoiding what you are craving helps you to begin to want them less.

Do away with temptation
Go through your kitchen pantry and get rid of all the foods that you crave. If you bought a box of cookies on your last shopping trip, throw them out (or give them away).

Munch on nuts
Eat an ounce of nuts with two glasses of water to help you overcome your craving. The crunchy will satisfy your need to chew and the water will make you feel full.

Let go of stress
Stress is a huge reason for cravings. Learning how to reduce and deal with the daily stress in your life can help you overcome food cravings. Look for different techniques like deep breathing or exercising that can help.

Workout classTake a power nap
Are you tired? Cravings often become strong when we’re fatigued. Take a quick power nap to re-energize.

Keep your hands and mind busy
Food cravings can be triggered by boredom. Find activities to keep your hands and your mind busy.

Sniff scented oil
Scent is a powerful sense. It can affect our emotions in many ways. Use scented oils to help you reduce anxiety, calm you or to curb your appetite.

A cup of teaChew gum
Keeping your mouth busy with gum or even tea tree toothpicks can help reduce the desire to eat mindlessly.

Have a cup of tea
Take a few moments to sip a cup of warm black tea. Sipping something warm has a calming effect that combats cravings.

Indulge — within limits
It’s okay to indulge occasionally as long as you don’t overdo it. Don’t go for a whole pint of ice cream. Instead, have one scoop at your favorite ice cream shop. Instead of buying a large box of cookies, purchase single 100-calorie packs. That way you aren’t tempted to reach for more bags or a whole box.

Lift any bans
If you’re eating a very limited number of calories, 1000 or less a day, or are restricting entire food groups like carbs, you’re more likely to have food cravings. Plan to enjoy a smaller portion of your favorite foods. Share a slice of cake with a friend instead of the whole cake by yourself.

Eliminate habits
Are you a creature of habit? Do you have to have pizza on movie night or ice cream after dinner? Instead, on movie night, why not fix a healthy dinner together with your family to eat while watching the movie? Instead of having ice cream every evening, why not go for a walk instead?

The above ideas are a general guide in overcoming most food cravings. Whenever a craving hits, ask yourself why you are craving it and what you can do instead to overcome it.

Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: selwyn@theartofcatering.com or by phone — (905) 619-1059.

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