Tuesday, 19 July 2011

3 Ways To Ward Off Food Cravings

Food cravings aren't all in your mind. You crave foods because your body "remembers" the physiological effect the food had when you consumed it in the past. In fact, research has shown that the foods we perceive as enjoyable or rewarding actually activate the same "reward pathways" in the brain that are triggered by certain drugs of abuse, like cocaine. When you experience a "food flash," you are really experiencing a milder form of the drug cravings that afflict recovering addicts.

That's why the smell of food is often all it takes to get you feeling all "cravey" and distracted. Haven't you on occasion walked past a bakery or entered a friend's kitchen and suddenly the aroma of delicious foods hits you, leaving you tempted? Face it, the smell of food can make you feel hungry as much as the sight of food can. That's a biological fact we're stuck with. The solution is to remind yourself, "That's the aroma of fat cells I don't need."

Luckily, there are other things besides drugs, food, and smells that can activate the reward pathways of your brain. In fact, you can start many of the same internal reactions through exercise, meditation, and believe it or not, laughter.

Exercise, even moderate exercise, can serve as a tremendous anti-anxiety agent. Research has proven that people who exercise have an enhanced sense of control over their bodies and their lives. Even better, the most recent research indicates that you don't have to workout to the point of exhaustion. The old proviso of at least thirty minutes of exercise three times a week is being modified shorter bouts of exercise are just as effective. That means a little bit of physical activity for merely ten minutes at a stretch a few times a day is just as effective as the traditional thirty minute routine. It would seem as if this new research was tailor-made to fit the time needed to overcome the average craving.

Whether it is Transcendental or any other kind of meditation, it has been shown to induce a biological state that is the exact opposite of that of stress. Meditation is food for your soul. It satiates the hunger that is not satisfied by food alone. And when your soul is fed, you have less need to overeat. When you directly experience the fullness of life, then you have less need to attempt to fill the void with food.
Chill Out:

Don't take yourself and your weight-loss efforts so seriously that you become grim about it. Laughter lifts depression, soothes anger, and relieves anxiety. Many of my clients keep on hand a videotape of a favorite old comedy or sitcom episode, something that just makes them laugh out loud. You can't laugh and eat at the same time. Humor kills food cravings.

Exercise, meditation, and laughter are three nonfood alternatives that are not only healthy and fun, they give you the scientific edge. With these three substitutions you are not only protecting yourself from the craving, you are changing the underlying chemistry that leads to craving, preventing later attacks.