We all know how hard it is to overcome the urge to down a pint of ice cream or eat a whole pizza, all because your stomach said so. Cravings are definitely something we all must endure at one point or another, but we must develop enough willpower to overcome them.
"But it tastes so good!"
Yes, listening to your stomach is the easiest solution to the problem, but when it comes to overcoming the urge you should understand why you have these cravings. Knowing the source of the urge can help in finding a healthier substitute.
Here are some common reasons for cravings:
Eating sugar gives your body a fast and effective – but very temporary – boost of energy. Because your body can convert sugar into energy so quickly, it often craves sweets when it really just needs fuel. This can happen when you haven’t eaten for a while, when you’re not eating enough in general or when you’re mostly eating foods that provide only quick bursts of energy. To curb sugar cravings that stem from low energy, spread your food intake evenly throughout the day instead of concentrating it all on mealtimes. Choose healthier foods with complex carbs, protein and fiber, which actually provide better, longer-lasting energy.
Unfortunately, your genetics can influence your cravings. You might have a sweet tooth simply because you’re hard-wired that way. A study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found that up to half of a person’s tendency to crave sweets can stem from genetic factors. Nevertheless, these factors don’t have to control you. To minimize these sugar cravings, eat small, healthy meals throughout the day and remove desserts from your house, or stock your pantry with only healthy snacks to eliminate temptation.
Women, especially those who experience PMS, often crave sweets in the days before menstruation begins. This craving stems from the normal hormone fluctuations that accompany the menstrual cycle. Hormonal deficiencies or imbalances in both men and women can also trigger sugar cravings. Because hormones regulate how your body processes and uses energy, hormone problems can trigger especially strong cravings for the quick burst of easy energy provided by sweets. To curb period-related cravings, eat small, healthy meals throughout the day, get plenty of rest and drink sufficient water. If you suspect you have a hormone deficiency, talk to your doctor.
Some people desire sugary foods when they experience certain emotions. You might subconsciously connect eating desserts with feelings such as sadness, frustration, boredom, loneliness or even happiness. When a person has an emotional connection with sweets, she might crave sweets when she longs for comfort, wants to celebrate or simply needs to pass some time. Understanding your emotional connection with food can help you curb or ignore emotion-based cravings. When you long for sweets, examine your emotions rather than just indulging. Try to wait awhile before eating; meanwhile, endeavor to distract yourself with another activity.
It’s obvious, but that doesn’t make it less true: sugar tastes delicious, and people enjoy eating it. As a basic fact of human nature, people desire pleasurable things - and as long as sugar remains tasty, people will crave it. Indulging this craving occasionally won’t harm you, and it can even help you stick to a healthy eating plan more effectively because you won’t feel like you’re depriving yourself. Try to keep any dessert under 200 calories, and only have a few desserts per week. To choose healthier and lower-calorie options when you crave sweets, try all-natural frozen fruit bars, low-fat yogurt or pudding, fat-free meringues, fresh fruit or dark chocolate.