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How to Reduce Cravings and Enjoy Eating More

By Sandy Schroeder

We all know what it feels like to bite into a juicy burger or savor the first forkful of pasta, but Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen say there is more to the story.

The explanation in Cell Metabolism says we get a dose of dopamine, the brain chemical of pleasure, when we taste a favorite food; then, when the body digests it, we get a second hit of satisfaction.

The trouble arises when our cravings screw up this two-part reward system. If you are dying for french fries, dopamine will take over with the first bite, but the second pleasure response may be very tiny. Researchers say the craving process interferes with the whole pattern of hunger, eating and satisfaction.

Here are some ways to reduce cravings to eat more normally.

Slow down - Do not eat in front of the TV or computer and pause to enjoy each bite. Also alternate bites of favorite foods with others.

Slim down - Researchers say being overweight tends to accelerate the feelings of food rewards in the brain in much the same way alcohol works. Exercise, therapy, and 12-step programs may help reduce cravings.

Drink more water - Drink water before eating to reduce hunger pangs, and make sure you get your daily quota of water.

Load up on protein - You may reduce overeating and feel contented longer when you eat high-protein meals. Extra protein may reduce midnight snacking and reduce cravings by as much as 60 percent.

Walk away from cravings - When you feel the urge to eat something sweet, take a walk, chew some gum, or take a warm bath. Use pleasurable distractions to lose the cravings.

Eat regular meals - Never allow yourself to miss meals or stretch out the time between meals. Hunger generates cravings. When we eat more small meals or stick with regular times we never reach those hungry extremes.

Add some spinach - Nutritionists say spinach extracts help postpone digestion of fat to increase hormones that lower the appetite.

Eat mindfully - Take a class in mindfulness meditation or read about it to refocus your approach to eating. You will learn about the difference between real hunger and triggered cravings that zoom in when you smell a bakery, or watch a juicy burger commercial on TV. You will learn how to eat slowly and savor each bite. Instead of parking yourself in front of your TV, you may also enjoy more sit down dinners with your family and lunches with friends.

Dial the stress way back - Do whatever it takes to relax. Avoid known stress-makers, take a few afternoons off, shutdown your phone and go for long walks, or treat yourself to warm baths and soft jazz. Cravings may drop away too.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Schaumburg, Ill.

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