The wry motto of Eartha’s blog is, “Trying Fitness — because you’ve tried everything else.” She recommends switching grocery stores, cooking at home, choosing snacks wisely, and stocking healthful snacks in a cooler in one’s car. That’s a great idea for parents, especially when the kids are getting chauffeured around a lot. It’s all too easy for a harried mom or dad to succumb to pleas for a junk-food pit stop. Instead, would the kids settle for raisins, sweet apples, frozen grapes, or baby carrots from a mini-cooler? It’s worth a try. Keep some water in there, too.
It’s possible to find many lists of potentially helpful ideas about what to do when the junk-food urge hits. They are offered by health care professionals, and by people who have been through the struggle to beat cravings and either reverse or prevent obesity. It’s useful to remember that not all of the suggestions work for everyone.
For instance, it has often been said that dehydration can be mistaken for hunger. The advice is, if you start to crave a little nosh, drink a few ounces of water instead. It’s one of the most basic, harmless things a person can do, so why not? If it helps one out of 10 people, or if it helps a person one time out of 10, still, that’s progress.
One of Eartha’s commentators recommends pausing to do the research on how many miles of treadmill effort it will take to cancel out the calories in a tempting candy bar. Another recommends eating ¼ or ½ of a pickle to stave off more serious cravings.
Blood sugar imbalances cause powerful cravings and this leads people to spend their days on a roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows, constantly eating to correct the imbalances. The result? Eating sugar around the clock. Once people understand the biochemical nature of their sugar craving, they realize it’s not about will power. They become empowered to take charge and correct their eating habits to get off of the sugar rollercoaster once and for all.
Eliminate sugar and artificial sweeteners and your cravings will go away.
Dr. Hyman also recommends getting seven or eight hours of sleep, because research indicates that cravings increase with sleep deficit. It could also help to investigate whether the unmanageable cravings might be triggered by hidden food allergies.
Yes, it’s great to correct your habits by quitting sugar, but how do you correct your habits when they are formed by the cravings that you’re trying to get rid of by changing those habits? It’s all very well for people to say “ditch sugar” and it will end the cravings, but how do you stop doing sugar in the first place, when it’s the very thing that you crave most? The first step, that’s what people need.
Maybe the first step is adding some other nutrients to the diet. Dr. Hyman cites a study which showed that the body needs vitamin D, or else the appetite-suppressing hormone doesn’t function right. Vitamin D is in fish and dairy products, and is also obtained from sunlight, another good reason for outdoor exercise. A person could probably benefit from some omega 3 fatty acids also. He adds:
Consider taking natural supplements for cravings control. Glutamine, tyrosine, 5-HTP are amino acids that help reduce cravings. Stress reducing herbs such as Rhodiola can help. Chromium balances blood sugar and can help take the edge off cravings. Glucomannan fiber is very helpful to reduce the spikes in sugar and insulin that drive cravings and hunger.
Dr. Douglas Hunt, one of the pioneers of therapy for food addiction, individually assessed the needs of his patients and treated them with different nutrients, including liver tablets and calcium lactate, depending on what they craved.
Maria Emmerich, a self-described wellness expert in nutrition and exercise physiology, stresses the importance of magnesium, and not just any magnesium supplement, but 600 milligrams of magnesium-glycinate. She says:
Magnesium is also being researched as a natural way to curb food cravings. It is found that as magnesium deficiencies increase so do food cravings. Supplementing with a therapeutic dose of 600 milligrams of a magnesium supplement has been shown to significantly calm food cravings.
These are all clues and cues, and hopefully they will be taken seriously and not ignored. The thing to remember is, when looking for ways to resist cravings, everything hinges on the question of how far a person has wandered down the path toward serious dependency issues. This is why it’s so important to help kids figure it out, before their habits become too ingrained.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Simple Ways to Help Stop Cravings for Junk Food,” TryingFitness.com, 05/05/10
Source: “The Blood Sugar Rollercoaster,”EndSugarAddiction.com
Source: “Stopping Addiction to Sugar: Willpower or Genetics?,” DrHyman.com, 07/25/11
Source: “Miracle Mineral,” MariaHealth, 05/16/10
Image by bradleygee (Bradley Gordon), used under its Creative Commons license.