Author: Heffernan, Carol
Date published: March 1, 2012
Journal code: VIL
California couple Mark and Andrea Lopez know what it's like to give in to unhealthy cravings again and again. When they're stressed or tired, when it's mldafternoon or late evening, Mark turns to carb's, such as bread and pizza, while Andrea can't resist sweets, including dark chocolate, ice cream, and soda.
'There: are: lots of healthy foods I like, but as a busy mom if they aren't convenient, I'll choose the unhealthy quick option," says Andrea. "Now I'm seeing our oldest daughter crave sugar as muchas 1 do, and I'm realizing we need to make healthier choices for our whole family's benefit."
When it comes to giving in to the siren call of sugary, fatty, salty treats, the Lopezes aren't alone. Research shows that 90 percent of women. and 50 percent of men experience cravings several times a month. So what is it about these treats that render us helpless?
"Unhealthy foods tend to have lots of calories, and we are quite susceptible to craving things packed with energy," says Susan B. Roberts, Ph.D., an Internationally recognized nutrition researcher at Tufts University, in addition, decadent goodies such as french fries, cookies, and sugary drinks give us pleasure, so we naturally want more.
The question then is this: Once we start obsessing over a food, how can we turn away from the tern ptation? The following strategies will help you keep your cravings from becoming an all-out binge:
1. Distract yourself.
Cravings typically last 10 minutes, so if you can divert your mind, you can push through it. When you feel a craving coming on, try going for a walk, checking e-mail, making a phone call, or doing something eise you enjoy.
2. Ask yourself if it's worth it.
"This may sound crazy, but I can be totally turned off by visualizing or scaring myself out of something," says Andrea Lopez. "My mom had breast cancer, and diabetes runs in my family; so when I'm going for that sugary treat, I sometimes stop and ask myself if it's worth it, knowing I'm putting myself at higher risk every time i consume a 'treat'"
3. Drink plenty of water.
The number one reason most people crave sugary and salty treats is dehydration. If you find it difficult to drink enough water on a given day, have a water bottle handy so you don't have to search out a drinking fountain or vending machine.
4. Have a healthy snack with you at all times.
'There are so few healthy things- an apple, for example - that you can get if you become hungry when you're out," says Roberts. "Carrying a good, healthy snack with you means you always have one on hand. It's easier to eat that than to go find something else!"
Cravings typically last 10 minutes, so if you can divert your mind, can push throuqh it.
Freelance writer Carol Heffernan craved gooey chocolate butter cake while writing this article, but drank water and ate apples instead.