We’ve all felt hunger. It’s the sensation we get when we want to eat food. It’s a physiological mechanism designed to tell us when we need to have sustenance. However, in the Western world, food is in plentiful supply all around us and our interpretation of hunger has become confused.
Broadly speaking, hunger can be viewed in two ways. Firstly, physiological, also known as stomach or true hunger, is where you are genuinely hungry because you feel low in energy and haven’t eaten for a long time. In other words, your body needs food. Secondly, psychological, or mouth hunger, is where you fancy something to eat. This is when you have a craving.
Cravings can lead to a preoccupation with food. We want food, especially ‘bad’ foods, more than we did before. When we restrict ourselves from eating the foods we desire, it can have a bad effect on our mood. This increases temptation and when you then eat something you’re craving, you enjoy it even more. This can cause a negative cycle of mood changes that leads you to want to snack more, and then you recognise the intense pleasure next time you have a craving. Cravings become harder to curb.
The trap continues. Just thinking about food triggers the behaviour you want to avoid, i.e. eating. It’s especially hard as food is constantly around us. It’s such an important part of our social lives, we see adverts for tasty foods everywhere, and it’s frequently the topic of conversation. None of this is helped when your colleagues, friends and family are snacking around you when you’re trying not to think about food. Harder still, we often use food as a reward. We treat ourselves, and junk food is a frequent reward of choice!
We’ve put together a list of a few practical tips to help you curb your cravings. As you take control of your cravings, over time you’ll realise that you don’t actually need the food that you’re craving, it’s just a mindset. The frequency, duration and intensity of the cravings will soon diminish.
- only eat at mealtimes
- get out of the habit of eating whilst watching TV
- when at home, confine eating to the kitchen or dining room
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