If you’re trying to lose weight, cravings can be your worst enemy. Food cravings are specific and often uncontrollable desires for certain foods, which are much stronger than normal hunger. While cravings can vary wildly, dieters often crave the food they cannot eat on their nutrition plan, including processed foods high in fat, salt, and sugar.
Cravings and subsequent binge eating cause problems for people trying to lose weight and keep it off. While you’re likely to experience food desires while limiting yourself, there are tricks in the psychology of cravings to keep your unhealthy hunger in check.
Know It’s in Your Head
Where do food cravings come from, anyways? You might hear criticism that cravings are just “in your head,” and to a certain extent, that’s correct. The psychology of cravings begins in specific areas of your brain. The same areas of your brain that control memory and pleasure are also responsible for food cravings. The hippocampus, caudate, and insula are activated during food craving episodes, according to research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Knowing about this connection could be useful in helping researchers find new ways of controlling food cravings in the future.
Drink More Water
Many people confuse hunger and food cravings with thirst. A lot of food cravings can be explained by dehydration – drinking additional water can help stave off cravings. If you suddenly feel an urge to eat a certain food, drink a glass of water and wait for a few minutes. Hopefully, the craving fades away because you were simply thirsty. Additionally, drinking water consistently has many health benefits, including reducing appetite and helping with weight loss.
Plan Out Your Meals
If you can, plan out your meals for the entire week at the beginning of the week. Meal prepping and planning lets you know what you will eat in the future, eliminating most uncertainty and spontaneity from your diet. This trick to help control the psychology of your cravings will hopefully lead to fewer food cravings in daily life.
Handle Your Stress
Stress can encourage food cravings and manipulate your eating behaviors, especially among women. When taking a look at where cravings come from, researchers have seen that people with significant stress consume more calories and have more cravings than those who aren’t stressed. Significant stress also raises cortisol levels, which can cause weight gain in the belly area. You can help control the psychology of this craving trigger by minimizing stress by meditating, seeing a psychiatrist, and slowing down your life.
Mindful eating involves practicing mindfulness in relation to your food and eating. Mindfulness is a form of meditation that teaches you to realize when and how you feel emotions, hunger, cravings, and physical sensations. It helps you distinguish base cravings and physical hunger, lowering your impulsivity.
Talk to Your Doctor
If you’re still having trouble controlling your cravings, you might want to talk to your doctor. Certain medications can help with specific sugar cravings and neurochemical balances that affect your eating habits. Scientists have developed formulations to curb hunger, cravings, and to help you lose weight and keep it off.
Appetite suppression medication can be an essential piece of a weight loss plan along with diet and exercise. Consult with your doctor to decide if appetite suppression medication is right for you and get help with your weight loss goals.