Tag Archives: cravings

Four Lessons We Learned from Dr. Hoebel

Renowned Princeton physiological psychologist and researcher Bart Hoebel has died at the age of 76. He was a leader in research on eating behaviors and the addictive qualities of food. He seems to have been a professor that invested in his students, and we hope that some of them will continue his research in his absence.

Below are just some highlights of what Dr. Hoebel’s research has taught us.

Sugar is addictive and affects brain functions the same way as cocaine and heroin.

High-fructose corn syrup leads to more weight gain than ingesting the same amount of calories via traditional sugar. It also causes abnormal increases in body fat, particularly in the belly, and triglycerides.

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Outsmarting Your Cravings on Today

Today ShowTune into the Today Show on Thursday, April 28th to learn how to outsmart your worst snack cravings. Prevention’s Deputy Editor Margot Gilman will share the best ways to understand your cravings and avoid mindless eating.

Margot will discuss the situations and circumstances that trigger our unhealthy cravings. She will share how sleep, stress, overall nutrition and habit can all cause us to have cravings, and how you can understand these triggers to fight cravings to eat better and lose weight. Plus, she will give viewers four questions to ask themselves before they cave to a craving.

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Empty Calories Comic: April’s Food Temptations

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Satisfy a Sweet Craving on a Diet

Like all cravings, an urge for something sweet is best handled by practicing moderation. When you’re trying to satisfy your craving, remember to eat slowly and enjoy every bite. Step away from other distractions so that you can focus on your treat.

Make an effort to identify why and when you crave sweets. Focus on new ways to achieve the same pleasure you receive from satisfying your craving. Eliminate your triggers (such as eating before a party or not keeping sweets in your pantry) and allow yourself small, healthy rewards.

Small amounts of fruit-based desserts are often enough to satisfy a sweet tooth. If you crave something sweeter than a bowl full of berries, then use a limited amount of sugar or other sweetener.

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Satisfy a Carbohydrate Craving on a Diet

Carbohydrate cravings can be pretty intense. Although they’re typically associated with stress, carb cravings can hit for a variety of reasons. The true cause of most cravings among dieters is habit. We have a tendency to grow comfortable with the way we handle our cravings and it quickly turns into a way of life.

Let’s take a step into the confessional: I once was so distraught over a fight with my father (a total cliche, but I swear it’s true!) that I drove to the store, bought a loaf of french bread and ate nearly the entire thing while I thought about what I should do- no joke. Needless to say, that wasn’t my proudest moment but we all have demons to face and apparently one of mine is artisan bread.

It took me some time to gather the common sense and knowledge that supplied me with the tools to fight my carb cravings. I’m happy to say that I rarely notice carb cravings anymore. Here are a few of the tips that brought me success. I hope they work for you too!

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Satisfy a Chocolate Craving on a Diet

Cultural reverance for chocolate has existed for centuries. Over the years, chocolate has been associated with decadence, luxury and relaxation. Cacao beans, which chocolate is made from, were so valuable that the Aztecs used them as a type of currency. Many Mesoamerican cultures considered chocolate to be magical and divine. The Smithsonian states that some historians believe that “evidence of chocolate consumption stretches back three or even four millennia.” Although it was known in many cultures as an exotic treat for the elite, there’s a much more biological reason why humans crave chocolate. Chocolate triggers a series of chemical responses when it is eaten. There are numerous health benefits of chocolate including:

  • Reduced risk of stroke and heart attack
  • Improved blood flow to the brain which results in higher concentration, mental clarity and memory function
  • Increased production of serotonin and endorphins, which are hormones that regulate mood, sleep and other mental faculties
  • Antioxidant support

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Satisfy a Crunchy Craving on a Diet

Crispy, crunchy, deliciously munchy potato chips are one of the most classic cravings we experience. Why do we crave crunch and why is it so hard to stop once we’ve started eating?

Anger and anxiety are the most common reasons why we experience cravings for crunch. The mechanical process of chewing and crunching releases tension that we hold within. Pay close attention to how you’re feeling when you start jonesing for something crunchy. Identify your triggers and learn how to alleviate the emotions without giving in to your craving. Focus on relieving stress and releasing aggression. A few useful techniques are:

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Satisfy a Salty Craving on a Diet

Your mouth waters and your mind wanders. You’re eating a deliciously balanced plate of grilled chicken and green beans with a whole grain roll but something is missing. You know what it is: you left the salt shaker in the kitchen. The question is, do you go and get it? Cutting salt out of your diet can be a difficult process, especially when you experience salt cravings. Cravings are a complicated phenomenon and can arise for a multitude of reasons. Understanding your salt cravings and developing strategies to combat them is one of the keys to a well-executed diet plan.

Why do we crave salt? First of all, it’s important to remember that salt is of vital importance to the proper functioning of the body. There was a point in time when salt was among the most valuable objects in the world. A salt craving can sometimes be a signal that you’re mildly dehydrated. If you have a glass of water before indulging in your salt craving, you may find that you’re simply thirsty. In most cases, cravings are experienced because a person is accustomed to a heavily salted diet. In these situations, the cure is a matter of adjusting to the taste of foods with less salt. Consider consulting a physician if your craving is accompanied by excessive thirst, dry mouth or dizziness. Sometimes a salt craving can indicate severe dehydration, complex electrolyte imbalances, Addison’s disease or certain adrenal diseases.

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Empty Calories Comic: Controlling Cravings

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Food for Thought: Imagining Food May Help With Weight Loss

With all those unhealthy treats around this time of year, temptation seems to be everywhere — from grandma’s cookies to your aunt’s egg nog to that tasty finger-food at your neighbor’s annual holiday party. But what if the secret to not overindulging wasn’t based on will power or self control, but rather a simple trick of the mind? It may seem like this type of Jedi-like behavior is right out of the Star Wars series, but research says that your brain can be a powerful ally in losing weight — if you use it the right way.

For many people who are trying to lose weight, visualizing yourself eating a not-so-healthy treat seems more like torture than a weight-loss strategy, but according to new research, scientists have found that imagining yourself eating a certain food may actually help you reduce your consumption of that food by decreasing your appetite for it. Talk about fascinating!

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