Decode your food cravings
Food cravings - those intense desires to eat a particular food, strong enough that you may go off your healthy eating plan and even out of your way to get it - are complex desires that most people experience at one time or another.
The meaning behind a craving
Does a craving mean your diet lacks a particular nutrient in the food you're longing for, such as the iron in red meat? Researchers don't yet know the answer to that. "But we do know there are strong psychological components to food cravings," says clinical psychologist, Susan Head. "A craving can mean you're being too restrictive (you haven't eaten a certain food or foods in a long time) and that it might be a good idea to start planning on eating more foods you enjoy."
For example, if you crave chocolate, include small portions of chocolate into your food plan. Ignoring the craving may increase its intensity.
Curbing your cravings and keeping on your diet
You don't have to deny what you crave - just control it. Try these top diet friendly tactics that can easily fit into your eating plan, even at home:
Identify the craving, avoid self-judgements and remain calm.
Find an acceptable alternative to avoid over-indulging in your diet, like a lower-kilojoule variety of the item you're craving. If you've got a hankering for some chocolate, opt for low-fat chocolate ice cream instead.
Feed the food craving
Find a way to include a moderate portion size of the food that you crave (order a small serving, share it with a friend) and be sure to track it.
If your food cravings linger, dig deeper to get at the root of them. Have you been too restrictive in your diet? If you suspect so, plan it differently, including more variety and more foods you enjoy.
Of course, cravings can also be emotional or situational or from pregnancy. According to Head, what you crave may be triggered by negative (or positive) feelings, which "often make people crave certain foods, since food tends to be associated with pleasure."
Is there something going on in your life that's making you anxious, angry or stressed? If that's the case, face the issue head on. For example, if you're worried about an upcoming meeting at work, do your best to prepare for it. By being proactive and making yourself aware of why you may be craving a certain food, your desire for it may disappear.
Find more Healthy Eating articles:
- How to cook with your kids and have fun
- Cook the family friendly way
- The facts about good and bad oils
- Get the most out of your exercise
- Diet friendly frozen desserts
- Bottled water vs tap water
- Food shopping for weight loss
- Manage family snack attacks
- Easy meal ideas when you don't want to cook
- 52 weeks of health and happiness
- 4 budge foods worth cooking from scratch
- Healthy smoothie ideas
- Add flavour (not fat) to your meals
This article was originally written for Kidspot.com.au in conjunction with Weight Watchers as part of their Positively Life Changing initiative.