Normal food cravings can kick in during the best of times. When the Holidays hit the cravings can become even trickier to handle.
The good news? There's ways to deal with regular or Holiday food desires without destroying your waistline.
Many people crave particular food groups such as salty foods versus sweet foods or crunchy treats versus soft and gooey one.
Others have hard core chocolate cravings or a desire for a specific food item.
Consider the following tricks to keep Holiday munching at bay:
1. Block Salty Cravings
The number one reason the body craves salt is because it's hydration level is low and the body craves salty foods to encourage thirst.
If you attend a Holiday event with salty cocktail snacks and it triggers a craving for crunching chips, pretzels or similar, stop first and drink a big glass of water. If your body is craving hydration, the salt craving will magically vanish and you'll be able to avoid the chips and dips.'
Crank Up Your Multi Vitamins
The body requires a certain amount of vitamins and key minerals to keep the body functioning at optimal levels.
When your body's lacking in minerals such as zinc and selenium it may trigger cravings for salty foods containing both minerals. Be sure to take your vitamins and minerals at the beginning of the day to starve off those early afternoon cravings.
Before you head to the Holiday party circuit make sure you have been religious about taking your supplements.
Dump The Salt Shaker
Adding salt to foods to satisfy a salty food craving is not really the best option. Substitute the salt for other seasonings instead. Although not recommended by all nutritionists, salt substitutes may be an option for some.
Keep in mind that potassium chloride used as a salt substitute may work for some, but not for everyone. Also, potassium chloride may not be advised for those with kidney problems, diabetes or some health conditions that require medications.
Some medications may not react well to salt substitutes so be sure to consult with your doctor before trying.
2. Slow Down Sweet Cravings
Studies have shown that women are more prone to craving sweets than men, especially chocolate.
Reach For The Cinnamon Tea
Cinnamon tea is an excellent option for blocking sugar cravings as well as neutralizing the blood sugar.
The tea has a sweet taste which helps with sugar cravings and prevent ongoing blood sugar spikes which trigger the desire for eating sweets.
If you're not able to brew up some cinnamon tea reach for cinnamon aromas in a candle and take a deep whiff. Although not as beneficial as the hot tea it can slow down cravings in some cases.
Join A Food Support Group
Studies indicate that women who talk with others about their sugar cravings actually wound up eating 50% less then those who didn't.
3. Block The Crunchies
Many people have an intense need to crunch when stress is overwhelming in their lives. What to do?
Munch On Some Gum
When the craving to munch on popcorn, pretzels or potato chips is overwhelming grab a piece of sugar free gum to starve off the munch monster.
Chomp Down On Wasabi Peas
These peas not only are a natural appetite suppressant which can block future cravings, they offer a wonderful crunch with the wasabi offering a slight metabolism boost.
4. Bypass The Comfort Foods
Norman Pecoraro, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of senior author Mary Dallman, PhD, UCSF professor of physiology has reported that "Scientific studies suggest that comfort food applies the brakes on a key element of chronic stress."
And it could explain, he says, why solace is often sought in such foods by people with stress, anxiety or depression.
It also could help to explain bulimic and night-binging eating disorders. Dallman, who has spent years studying the regulation of the stress response system, developed the new model of chronic glucocorticoid feedback.
A craving for soft and gooey foods often strikes during periods of insecurity. Soft and gooey foods go down easily and provide instant feelings of nurturing. Unfortunately those foods will also provide tighter clothing and maybe feelings of anger after the fact.
Sleep May Be The Answer
"In the short term, if you're chronically stressed it might be worth eating and sleeping a little more to calm down, perhaps at the expense of gaining a few pounds," says Pecoraro. "But seeking a long-term solution in comfort foods - rather than fixing the source of the stress or your relationship to the source of the stress - is going to be bad for you."
Inhale A Burst Of Green Apple Aroma
Studies have shown that green apple aroma will stop a multitude of cravings, but will also help calm the psyche.
5. Decrease Chocolate Cravings With Brisk Walking Or Light Exercise
Chocolate and sugar cravings in general have been associated with feeling tired or exhausted.
When people are tired they have a need for an energy boost and sugar and chocolate often will give a temporary sugar rush.
Unfortunately the temporary rush from consuming sugar or chocolate will cause an even bigger dip in energy.
Instead of reaching for chocolate or high sugar foods, take a brisk walk or exercise.
A recent study found that a fifteen minute brisk walk will decrease most people's chocolate cravings.
Scientists believe a short burst of activity is good enough to release feel-good endorphins in the brain and over the desire for a quick sugar fix.
Keep A Journal
Sometimes the desire for chocolate is not necessarily related to physical exhaustion but tied to emotional issues such as depression or sadness. Experts have indicated that pouring your emotions out into a journal before you indulge in chocolate is a great release for stress and pent up frustrations.
Writing in a journal also requires your consecration which can detract your need to indulge in chocolate.
One of the keys to conquering Holiday cravings is to understand what foods are triggers for your maniac munching and cut them off at the pass. Nutritionists suggest that if you are going to a party or gathering where food will be available, eat a healthy snack before you arrive. One of the most challenging things to do is arrive at a Holiday spread with an empty stomach.
It's also important to remember if you have any type of slip to be kind to yourself and not use one slip as an excuse for a major munching that you and your body might regret later.
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Original Publication Date: 12/20/09 - Revised Publication Date: 12/22/09
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