Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kick Those Cravings to the Curb

If you are anything like me, you’ll admit to have daily, if not hourly, cravings for all things bad for you: chocolate, cookies, cupcakes, fries, chips, sour kids … the list goes on. Basically, anything rammed full of carbs or sugar. For me, it’s the refined carbs and anything starchy: potatoes, preferably deep fried, peanut butter and toast, cookies,

Woman’s Health had an interesting article on how to manage these cravings:

If, in the next 30 seconds, you don't think about a gooey slab of warm chocolate cake, Evan Forman, assistant professor of psychology at Drexel University, will mail you a check for a million dollars. Forman loves to pose this mind-screw to his study subjects because he knows that thoughts are like zits—they pop up whether you want them to or not. And that's the problem with cravings. "While there are things you can do to manage cravings, you can't stop yourself from thinking about the foods you love," Forman says.

Unlike run-of-the-mill hunger, cravings—intense desires for certain foods—seem to be linked to our brain's reward system. Emotions, situations, or pleasant associations (Grandma fed you Little Debbie snack cakes) can trigger a craving, says Susan Roberts, Ph.D., director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Tufts University Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. When you eat a food you crave, your brain releases dopamine, a natural chemical related to pleasure. It's the same reward system you get from sex or illegal drugs, "but it's at much lower concentrations," Roberts says.

So what to do the next time you start jonesing for a pumpkin spice latte when you're already stuffed from lunch? The following stay-slim strategies will boost your ability to just say no. And don't miss "Laws of Lasting Weight Loss" for more craving-cutting tips.

Keep reading: Craving Mad - Outsmart any urge with these stick-to-your-diet tricks

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