Food cravings are real! While hunger produces physical sensations such as stomach growling, lightheadedness and weakness that signals your body for the need of fuel, food cravings are an intense desire for a specific food choice. Normal hunger can be satisfied with a variety of foods while a craving can only be satisfied with a specific food, normally a sweet.
With that in mind, could there be a physiological component to cravings? The answer is yes. It is not all about will power. Neurochemicals and hormones play a large part in hunger, cravings, fullness and satiety.
There are over seventy neurochemicals that have been identified that play a role in memory, appetite and mood. A few of them you may have heard of such as endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. In addition to these neurochemicals, hormones also play an important part in cravings, hunger and satiety. They include insulin, cortisol, and leptin plus many more.
Let take a closer look at insulin. This is a hormone that is produced by the pancreatic cells and is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. Since blood sugar is probably the single most important factor controlling appetite and mood, insulin is a key player in causing food cravings.
When we eat carbohydrates they are reduced to simple sugars. These sugars enter our blood stream and trigger an insulin release. The more refined foods containing ‘simple carbohydrates’, such as Dr. Clarks six C’s, lead to a quick release of insulin followed by a rapid drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia) that triggers an intense need (craving) for more carbohydrates.
To eliminate or minimize this physiological aspect of cravings try:
Controlling your blood sugar swings by eating protein every few hours, at every meal as well as for snacks. Keeping your carbohydrate levels below or equal to your protein levels will help.
Avoiding those crunchy 6 C’s as well as rice, pasta, bread and potato. These can raise your blood sugars fairly quickly.
Carrying protein-based snacks with you at all times. Never let yourself become famished.
Adding the mineral chromium picolinate has shown to be useful in curbing cravings.
Exercise helps get your mind off thinking about foods as well as utilize those excess sugars in your blood stream.
Giving yourself a fifteen minute timeout. Wait about fifteen minutes to see if the craving goes away.
4-6 pieces bacon, chopped
2 pounds ground beef
Small onion, chopped, 2.5 ounces
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon toasted onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 egg, beaten
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded and divided
16 ounce package frozen green beans
16 ounce package frozen cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon chives, minced
1 Packet Beef Bouillon Protein Soup Mixed with 4oz hot water
In a large skillet, fry the bacon until crisp; drain well and set aside. In the same skillet, brown the hamburger and onion, seasoning with salt and pepper; drain the fat. In a 7 1/2 x 11 3/4″ baking dish, mix the hamburger, bacon, onion and garlic powders, and mixed bouillon. Check the seasoning for salt and adjust if needed, then stir in the beaten egg and half of the cheese. Spread over the bottom of a baking dish.
Meanwhile, in a medium pot, cook the green beans according to the package directions; drain well then return to the pot and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Season to taste with salt. Spread the beans over the meat layer. In the same pot, cook the cauliflower 10-12 minutes until very tender; drain well. Put the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons butter and the sour cream in a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add the chives and pulse to blend. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary, then spread evenly over the green beans. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake at 350º for 35 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
Makes 8 very generous servings & freezes well
Per Serving: 433 Calories; 31g Fat; 32g Protein; 8g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 5g Effective Carbs
You have set goals for yourself. Specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant ones. You are working hard to achieve these goals. Imagine how great you will feel when you reach them!
It’s time for some holiday planning! Enjoy the upcoming holidays without putting your objectives on hold. Focus on family, friends & fun rather than food. Consider the little things that you can do to make this holiday season a healthier one for you and your loved ones. Invite them to take a walk with you after dinner or visit a local ice rink and skate off a few bites. Make modifications to your favorite side dishes to trim carbs & calories. Meet up with friends at a park or museum instead of a restaurant. Take a water bottle with you everywhere and keep your energy level up where it needs to be this time of year. None of these things take a lot of time or effort, just a change in perspective.
In spite of your planning and best efforts, you may still find yourself reaching for something that wasn’t part of the plan. When you find yourself tempted, practice managing your response toward food. Remember the letter ‘D’.
Delay Wait at least 10-15 minutes before deciding whether you really want to eat a food.
Distract Do something else. Find an enjoyable activity that occupies your mind & hands!
Distance If you can’t reach it, see it, or smell it, you may no longer really want it.
Decide Is it really worth it? What is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t eat it? Have you totaled your protein and carbs for the day? Is there room to negotiate?
Determine If you have decided that you are going to eat it, figure out what amount will leave you satisfied without making you feel guilty. Once it is on your plate, be mindful of each bite—and enjoy!
It’s time to make your plan. What are you weight-ing for?
That’s right – Thanksgiving dinner is right around the corner. For many Americans, it is the largest single meal of the year. Why do so many feel the need to gorge themselves that day? The turkey and stuffing is so plentiful that it’s falling off the plate. Yes, it’s tradition to serve multiple side dishes but can too much of a good thing be not so good? Absolutely.
Let’s take a look at how things got out of hand.
In the era of the supersized meal it’s often hard to recognize normal portion sizes. Restaurants use platters rather than plates. Fast-food joints have ‘super-sized’ everything on the menu. Giant bottles of soda, extra-large bags of chips and king-size candy bars are part of our everyday eating landscape. But unfortuantely, as our portion sizes get larger, so do our waistlines. And bigger packages can also sabotage portion control.
Research from the University of Illinois shows that people may tend to eat more food when it’s served in larger containers. When movie-goers were given the same amount of popcorn in containers of two different sizes, the people given the larger tubs ate 44 percent more.
So how does that relate? To keep portions in perspective, you need a tool to help you identify your portions as they relate to serving sizes. Being able to visualize recommended serving sizes by relating them to common household objects is an easy and useful technique. By comparing food portions to things you already recognize, you should be able to eyeball a food item and guesstimate how large it is. Carrying around a food scale is just not practical! It’s wise to weigh things occasionally to get an accurate idea of how big portions should be, but relating those measurements to common objects and teaching yourself to recognize them will be a great step toward achieving your weight-loss goals.
Your fist is about the same size as one cup of fruit or vegetables
Your thumb (tip to base) is the size of one ounce of meat or cheese
Your palm (without fingers) equals three ounces of meat, fish, or poultry
Your cupped hand equals one to two ounces of nuts
A glass of wine is 3-4 oz. That is less than 1/2 cup – measure it in your stemware in advance.
Once you have serving sizes committed to memory, you’ll be ready to fit them into your Thanksgiving Day plan.
Start the day off with plenty of water. Thirst is one of our most misinterpreted signals. If you are well hydrated, you are less likely to graze on things sitting around you.
Zero in on the veggie tray or cheese before the big meal. A few cubes of cheese or some raw crudites will take the edge off of your hunger. When it comes to cocktails, a small glass of wine may be the best option. Dry wines have less sugar than their sweet counterparts so a chardonnay or pinot grig would be a good choice.
If you are hosting the dinner, put some thought into the centerpiece and place settings. If your table is beautiful, the bowls of food won’t be missed. Consider using smaller plates with your traditional plates acting as chargers. Dish up the plates in the kitchen and leave the serving dishes on the counter. Starting with a salad and/or soup will make the meal more of a feast and your guests may not notice the smaller than usual servings in the main course.
Most vegetables are full of flavor and color and are extremely low in fat and calories. Bell peppers and brussel sprouts may become your new best friends!
Consider trying some of our lighter options in place of your traditional favorites this year. Remember that traditions always have a beginning, why not start one of your own! We have some recipes to share with you – download & print: CFWLS Thanksgiving Lite
Check out our selection on Pinterest!
I have heard the phrase “I just wasn’t thinking” many times in counseling, which may make us think, are there times when eating is just automatic? You may reach for something to eat and before you are aware of it, the whole bag of chips is gone or that carton of ice cream or cookies are devoured.
As much as we would like to think that our eating is an automatic function, as is our breathing or our heartbeat, unfortunately it is not. We actually decide to eat.
According to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating, the average person makes over 200 decisions regarding food daily. It’s not just if we eat but what we eat, when we eat, where we eat, etc. Those decisions happen, for some people, as if it were out of their control.
If you feel as if your eating is sometimes automatic it may be because you are not fully aware of your thoughts at the time. You may be more focused on other things like talking with friends, watching TV, reading the paper. You may look down and see that the plate of food is gone and yet you cannot remember eating that food or even tasting it, let alone really enjoying it.
During your weight loss process we need to bring the focus back to what you choose to eat, when you eat it, and where you eat it and sometimes the length of time it takes you to eat it.
A few suggestions on how to be more mindful of your eating include:
- Determine if you are really hungry. Using a hunger scale may be helpful. When did you last eat? Drink some water to eliminate the possibility that you are just thirsty.
- Plate your food. Placing all the food you plan on eating onto your plate helps you visualize what you are eating and the amount you are eating.
- Clear the table of extra food. Leave serving dishes back in the kitchen and not on the table to minimize mindless second helpings.
- Individualize your portions. If you eat out of prepackaged foods buy the small individual sizes or prepackage the larger ones into individual serving portions. Keep all the wrappers in front of you so you can see the actual amount that you have consumed.
- Keep your distractions to a minimum while you are eating. Eliminate eating at your work desk or in front of the TV. Eat only at a pre-designated area such as the kitchen table or break room.
- Slow down your eating. Chew each bite with the intent to taste each mouthful of food, enjoying the smell and texture.
- Pay attention to your hunger signals throughout the meal. Try and stop eating before you feel full. Remember it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that you have eaten.
- Lastly, but most important, is to journal your food intake. This creates an awareness of the amount you eat and your eating patterns.
When we eat, where we eat and what we eat are decisions we make throughout our day. Let your counselor help you modify these decisions so you become more successful in reaching your goals.
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