woman eating carrot cake

Tricks for Controlling Food Cravings

That hunk of chocolate cake. The fork sitting next to it just waiting for you to plunge it into the sweet moist layers, shoveling a huge, rich satisfying heap of chocolate goodness into your mouth, the sweet, decadent icing dissolving on your tongue, the serotonin rushing to your brain Oh, pure joy. Cravings can be hard to deal with, but so can excess calories. If you need some help dealing with temptations, here are a few suggestions.

Drink Water
It may be no match for chocolate cake, but you may find that a few minutes after drinking a large glass of water, your craving may disappear. Water also has health benefits and drinking it before a meal can help keep appetite to a minimum.

More Protein
A study of overweight teenage girls found that eating a breakfast high in protein reduced cravings significantly, and a study of overweight men showed that increasing protein to 25% of daily calorie intake resulted in a 60% reduction of cravings and a 50% reduction in desire for nighttime snacks.

Just Walk Away
One way to beat a craving is by distancing yourself from it. Taking a shower or brisk walk can help to shift your mind to something else, and chewing gum can also help to reduce appetite.

Plan Meals
Knowing what you’re going to eat will help to cut down on spontaneous eating. If you don’t have to think about your next meal, you’ll be less likely to succumb to temptation.

couple prepping food in the kitchen

Don’t Wait to Eat
Hunger is a big reason for cravings. Avoid hunger by eating regularly and keeping healthy snacks close.

Control Stress
Stress can bring on food cravings that lead to binge eating. Studies show that women under stress typically take in significantly more calories and have more cravings than women who are not experiencing stress. Stress can also increase blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can lead to weight gain, especially in the belly. Minimize stress by planning ahead, slowing down, and meditating.

Spinach Extract
Spinach extract is a supplement made from spinach leaves that helps to delay the digestion of fat that increases the levels of hormones responsible for reduction of hunger and appetite. Studies show that 3.7-5 grams of spinach extract taken with a meal may reduce cravings for several hours. One study showed that overweight women who took 5 grams of spinach extract daily were able to decrease cravings for food with a high level of sugar by 88-95%.

Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a type of meditation used to develop awareness about eating habits, hunger and physical sensations, which teaches you to distinguish between craving and real physical hunger. Mindful eating helps you to choose your response to food, rather than acting impulsively. Mindful eating involves being present during a meal, slowing down and chewing food thoroughly, and should be done without distractions such as TVs and smartphones. One study found that episodes of binge eating in individuals were reduced from 4 to 1.5 sessions per week over a 6 week period, and the severity of the binges was decreased, as well.

How do you fight your food cravings? Let us know what you do when the urge to indulge hits!

Stressed woman

Stress, Lack Of Sleep, and Overeating

Well, the holidays are upon us again, and it is time for silent nights and visions of sugar plums and all that good stuff. Time for senses are assailed with images of Santa riding around on his sleigh coming to the houses of good children and rewarding them with treasure and eating their cookies. Surely, this couldn’t be too good. Firstly, he must be super stressed, and, secondly, those hours couldn’t possibly be healthy. No wonder he’s eating all those cookies. Do you catch yourself with the hand in the cookie jar late at night, even after a big meal? If you do you’re likely to gain weight and even develop health problems. If your find yourself a sleepless, stressed out, and overeating, it may be caused by a hormone imbalance.

Hormones
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, the underlying cause of night eating is biology. He believes it is caused by an imbalance in the hormones that regulate appetite and speculates that the key to ending your late night cravings lies within understanding how to balance them.

  • Insulin: Insulin is produced to process sugar. If insulin spikes and then crashes after eating, it makes you hungry, even if your meal is relatively healthful.
  • Leptin: Leptin is the hormone that sends a signal to your brain letting you know that you are full. If you eat a lot of sugar, flour, or processed food, your brain may become leptin resistant and not know when to put the brakes on your appetite.
  • Ghrelin: This is the hunger hormone which tells your brain to eat.
  • Peptide YY: This hormone is produced in your intestines and also sends signals to your brain when you’re full.
  • Cortisol: Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol can cause your blood sugar and insulin to rise making you hungrier and setting the stage for insulin resistance or pre- diabetes.

Woman eating breakfast

What Can You Do?

Eat Breakfast
If you’re binging at night, you probably won’t want to eat a good breakfast because you wake up full. If you’re are going to break the cycle, start the day with a high protein breakfast to keep your blood sugar even throughout the day.

Soothe the Stress
Stress causes overeating. Learn which methods of stress reduction work best for you. Deep breathing, exercise and yoga can all be effective relaxation techniques. They help to balance hormones, stop cravings, and maintain good sleeping habits.

Prioritize Sleep
Not sleeping drives up grehlin (the hunger hormone) and drives down PYY (the ‘I’m full’ hormone.) This means if you don’t sleep, you’ll be hungry, especially for sugar and carbs. Late night eating leads to bad food choices, so try to make sleep your number one late night activity.

Eat Regularly
Make sure to eat on a regular schedule, including three square meals. You can snack in between, but, remember, the body is a hormonal clock and needs a rhythm to keep it balanced.

We hope those visions of sugarplums aren’t keeping you up at night. Let us know your sleep and stress issues! We love to hear from you! Send comments and suggestions.