Have you ever reached for that bag of chips or chocolate bar even though you're not hungry? Food cravings can be a constant struggle, but understanding the science behind them can help you find more effective ways to stop food cravings.
What causes food cravings?
Food cravings are thought to be triggered by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menstruation or pregnancy, can increase the desire for certain foods. Our brain chemistry also plays a role. Certain foods trigger the release of pleasure-inducing chemicals such as dopamine.
Cravings can also be a response to emotions, like stress, boredom, or sadness. In these cases, the desire for food is a coping mechanism to relieve unpleasant feelings. Additionally, food cravings can be influenced by cultural and social factors, like advertising and peer pressure.
How to deal with food cravings
The first step in dealing with food cravings? Figure out the triggers that cause them. Keep a journal to track when cravings occur and what might be contributing to them. Are they related to hormonal changes, emotions, or environmental factors? Understanding your triggers can help you develop a plan to address them.
Mindfulness helps you become more aware of your cravings and better understand the reasons behind them. When a craving strikes, take a moment to pause and reflect. Ask yourself if you're truly hungry or if there are other factors, such as stress or boredom, that are driving the desire to eat. Practicing mindfulness can help you make more intentional and healthier food choices.
Find alternative coping mechanisms
Cravings can often be a response to negative emotions, such as stress or anxiety. To address this, it's important to find alternative coping mechanisms that don't involve food. Try practicing relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation, or engage in physical activity, such as yoga or a brisk walk.
Incorporate a whole food plant-based diet
Incorporating a whole food plant-based diet into your lifestyle can help reduce and eventually stop food cravings, not to mention improve overall health. Studies show a plant-based diet can have a positive impact on hormones and brain chemistry, leading to a decrease in food cravings and an improvement in emotional well-being (Lin, 2017). In addition, whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, are high in fiber and nutrient-dense, helping to promote fullness and satisfaction.
Studies show that whole food plant-based diets can help reduce and even stop food cravings. Specifically, eating plant-based foods can laed to improved weight management and a decrease in cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods. Additionally research shows the longer you eat whole plant-based foods, the more you’ll like them. As your taste buds regain sensitivity, you’ll be able to truly taste (and enjoy) healthy meals
Can you really stop food cravings? First, let's look at the science behind them
Food cravings can be difficult to resist, but incorporating simple techniques into your daily routine can help you overcome them. One such technique is the 90-second trick, which is based on the concept of breaking patterned behavior.
The neuroscience behind breaking patterned behavior
The human brain is wired to repeat patterns of behavior, including habits and cravings. These patterns are stored in the basal ganglia, a region of the brain that is responsible for motor control and habit formation. When a craving is triggered, the basal ganglia sends a signal to the cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making, and the craving becomes almost irresistible.
However, the good news is that it only takes 90 seconds to create a new pattern of behavior. By interrupting the pattern of craving and doing something else for just 90 seconds, you can break the habit and stop food cravings.
The 90-second trick to stop food cravings
Here's how you can use the 90-second trick to stop food cravings:
- Identify the craving. When you feel a craving coming on, take a moment to identify what you're craving and what might be contributing to it.
- Take a deep breath. Breathing deeply for just a few seconds can help activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to calm you down and reduce the intensity of the craving.
- Do something else. For the next 90 seconds, do something to distract yourself from the craving, such as going for a walk, doing some stretching exercises, or reading a book.
- Reevaluate. After 90 seconds, take a moment to reevaluate the intensity of the craving. Chances are, it will have diminished, and you'll be better able to make an informed decision about whether or not to give in to it.
Food cravings can be difficult to resist. That said, adding this 90-second trick into your daily routine can help you stop food cravings once and for all. By interrupting the pattern of craving and doing something else for just 90 seconds, you can break the habit and reduce the craving. Give it a try and see if it works for you!