Woman eating burger

Taming Your Fast Food Craving

Are you a fast food junkie? Do you religiously monitor news reports and commercial advertisements to hear the latest concoction your favorite fast food restaurant has on offer? Were you the first to try the Taco Bell Naked Fried Chicken Chalupa? Do you regularly challenge your new friends to Doritos Loaded eating contest? Are you willing to travel several miles out of your way to the nearest Weinerschnitzel to eat “Pastrami with your Mommy?” If so, have you read the nutritional information on that stuff?

Fast food can be hard to resist. After all, how can you compete with companies willing to spend millions of dollars on discovering the right level of crunch in a potato chip? But there are ways to fight back. Read on to find out how you can tame your fast food craving.

Why We Crave

Vanishing Food Density
Cheetos are a classic example of a food with vanishing caloric density. It melts in for mouth quickly, before your brain realizes there are calories in it. The result? Your brain thinks you’re not eating as much as you are and you overeat.

Sensory Response
The brain craves variety. The more familiar the brain becomes with a food, the less pleasure it will derive from it. Fast foods are designed to provide enough taste to remain interesting without dulling the sensory response. This is why many fast foods are covered with sauces and glazes.

Memories
When you eat something you like, the pleasurable response is registered in your brain, creating a trigger. Every time you see or even think about that food, memories and responses can cause cravings, and even physical responses, like salivation.

How To Fight Back

Woman with healthy groceries

Rules and Strategies
Research has shown that the less junk food you eat, the less you will crave it. Your first step in fighting your fast food craving is by cutting down on processed and packaged food.

Try using the “outer ring” strategy at the grocery store. If you aim to purchase foods on the outer ring of the store, you will generally be selecting from whole foods like meats, eggs and produce.

Also, try and follow the “five ingredient rule” and avoid buying foods with more than five ingredients, which are more likely to contain empty calories.

Choose From a Wide Variety of Foods
The brain needs novelty to remain stimulated. If your craving the crunch of a Nacho, you may not be able to replicate the taste, but you may be able to get a similar sensation by dipping a celery stick in hummus. Try and get creative with food textures and flavors to keep things interesting.

Learn To Cope with Stress
Stress causes the brain to release chemicals, like opiates and neuropeptide, Y that trigger mechanisms similar to those you get from sugar and fat. Learn to handle stressful situations without reaching for junk food. Try a simple breathing exercise or quick meditation. Exercise and activity are also great stress relievers and can provide distractions from food cravings.

If you have a mild fast food obsession, how do you control your cravings? Let us know how you managed to avoid the lure of the Bacon Cheese.

Woman enjoying meal

Stress Free Ways To Cut Calories

You know something is big when it gets its own nickname. When Jennifer Lopez became JLo, it was Illuminati confirmed. When Ben and Jennifer united to form Bennifer, the star power was undeniable, and when hunger joined anger to make hanger, you know it wasn’t just a figment of the imagination. Hanger is real. It even has its own meme.

Why do we get hangry? As time passes after you eat, your blood glucose level starts to drop and, if it falls fast enough, your brain perceives it as a life-threatening emergency. Hence the reason you flipped over your desk at work after you were told your lunch hour would be a bit late. So what do you do when you’re trying to cut calories, but want to maintain your cool while doing it? Relax, there are some stress-free ways to diet.

Guilt
If you find yourself going on a major guilt trip every time you sneak that extra cookie, you may have unrealistic goals. If your diet involves cutting your favorite food completely out of your menu or losing 5 pounds a month, you’ve set the bar too high and are giving yourself a greater chance of failure. Clinical psychologist Marlene Schwartz, PhD advises dieters to go easy on themselves. Focus on small goals that will increase your chance of success, like taking a walk during lunch time. According to Schwartz, “Research shows that the more you believe you can lose weight the more likely you are to actually do it.”

Stressed businesswoman

Stress
If your stress levels are through the roof, you might seek some support. A recent study conducted by Ashton University in England showed that dieters who did not have the social support of an organized group showed higher stress-hormone levels than those who belonged to an assigned weight-loss program.

While commercial programs, such as Weight Watchers can help lend a communal feeling to the dieting process. a John Hopkins University study showed that participation in church-based exercise and nutrition programs are just as likely to succeed. The friends you already have can be your biggest cheerleaders. According to Beth Casey Gold, RD, when recruiting your buddies, “emphasize how important it is to you to make these lifestyle changes, then offer specific examples of what kind of encouragement will help and what won’t.” Stress positive reinforcement over negative remarks for best results.

Anger
If you find yourself lashing out at the family, it may be due to a significant cut in carbs, a side effect known by experts as the “Atkin’s Attitude.” “Your body need carbs to produce serotonin, the neurotransmitter in your brain that regulates mood, emotion, sleep, and appetite.” informs Judith Wurtman, PhD and director of Women’s Health at MIT. The quick anger fix? Grab a healthy high carb snack like popcorn or whole grain toast. Try to get at least 130 grams of carbs per day to maintain optimal brain function, according to the National Academy of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board.

 Temptation
In constructing your diet, focus on long-term changes, rather than short-term deprivation. If you commit to eating nothing but celery and carrots each day, you are probably dieting with an end in sight. Schwartz suggests that you, “gradually incorporate small changes that you’ll stick with for life. Try swapping one unhealthy food out for a healthier one rather than completely depriving yourself. You’ll be less likely to succumb to temptation.

How do you handle hanger? Let us know what works for you. We love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.

Woman having lunch

Eat Like a Supermodel

It’s no secret that the world’s top supermodels train hard to keep in shape, but exercise is only part of the equation to their enviable bodies. Supermodels also are very intentional about what foods go into their bodies, making sure that they are eating foods that are high in vitamins and nutrients. With just three tips, you can eat like a supermodel and truly nourish your body.

Start Your Morning Right
Many supermodels begin their day by drinking warm water with lemon. “Hot water with lemon to start the day, it’s really good and it stimulates the digestive systems,” says Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr. Vanessa Packer of modelFIT, the New York City gym used by models like Karlie Kloss, Martha Hunt and Miranda Kerr, is also an advocate of beginning the morning with light foods. “Begin your day with warm water and lemon followed by a juice or smoothie, which will boost alkalinity [aka your body’s best natural pH for your cells to thrive], give you energy with raw and living vitamins and minerals, and will hydrate you and prep you for the day ahead.”

Stop Counting Calories
“I never count calories. I base my meal plans and system of eating on seasonality, alkalinity and food combining,” says Packer. Victoria’s Secret Angel Candice Swanepoel agrees. “I eat whatever I want, but to me it needs to be healthy – I always think about what sort of vitamins are in the food and what it’s giving my body…I make sure I eat a lot of protein, carbohydrates, good sugars and good fats.” Eliminating calorie counting isn’t a license to go crazy, you still need to be thoughtful about what foods you are eating to make sure you’re filling your body with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Woman eating protein bar.

Snack Smart
Kate Upton swears by her daily snacks of 10 raw almonds, green juice and protein bars. Vanessa Packer advises her model clients about snacking saying, “I’m not a big snacker because I think it’s important to sit down and enjoy a meal; your body responds better to that. However, if you are a gal on the go, try packing some crudite with hummus or smashed avocado, or even summer rolls are a great option.” Although Upton snacks on nuts, Packer says to proceed with caution when it comes to eating nuts as your snack. Says Packer, “[y]es they are healthy fats and are packed with protein, but they are very heavy on the digestive system and very dehydrating. Also, if you opt for roasted instead of raw, they become very fattening because the oil found in nuts is compromised when heated.” Eat raw nuts, in moderation and be sure to hydrate with plenty of water after snacking.

The days of the diet coke and cigarette diet are over for models, today they eat real food that provides nourishment and energy to keep up with their demanding schedules. These tips not only help you eat like a supermodel and get into fashion week shape, they are excellent tips for giving your body the nutrition that it requires to keep you healthy and happy.