Why does chocolate seem so appealing? Or ice cream, or, well, fill in the blank with your favorite food that you know has little or no nutritional value. Sometimes referred to as “comfort food” it is anything but since after eating it, you feel so guilty. We should rename it “remorse food”! But you may be surprised that cravings may signal a nutritional deficiency! It may also be hormonal, since it is almost an accepted medical fact that premenstrual syndrome involves the desire to eat fattening foods!
There can also be a strong psychological association with foods that can date back to our childhoods – foods given as rewards for good behavior, or upon completion of a good grading period – pizza or other meals were used to congratulate the winners. Then as we become adults, and the rewards for our work become fewer and fewer, foods reappear as our gifts to ourselves when no one else notices our efforts on the job.
If you are dieting and begin craving an unusual food for you, say French fries while on a pre-contest diet; it may be that you went a bit too low too quickly on your fats and or salt. The answer would be to put a tablespoon of olive oil into two of your daily meals for a week and see if it stops. Usually it takes the body two weeks to adapt to metabolic changes in your diet, so make sure to make your adjustments with this in mind.
If you are a starch-aholic, then you are going to have a harder time keeping breads out of your diet than other people. You can use a few nutritional supplements to assist in stabilizing your blood sugar. Two such nutrients are Vanadyl Sulfate and Chromium Picolinate. Taken two to three times a day, the urge to eat starchy foods to maintain your blood sugar will diminish.
Certain medications can also cause food cravings. Anti-depressants, of the SSRI class, actually stimulate a part of the brain that makes you crave carbohydrates. The tragedy of this of course is that many depressed people are overweight, and these medications can cause them to gain more weight! The same is true for various types of birth control pills and injections, especially Depo-Provera. Weight gain is quite common and can be significant!
The best thing to do is try to determine the cause of the craving – why would your body want you to eat something contrary to your dieting goals? This of course requires discipline and thought, both of which will help to keep you from giving in.
Most well put together diets include one to two “cheat” meals per week, because, one, we’re human after all! And second, cheat meals allow a metabolic shakeup, where you change the total number of calories per day so as not to plateau in your weight loss. Save your cravings for these cheat meals.
What if you end up eating the Snickers bar anyway? I feel you should work it off; add an hour of cardio for the unintended cheat. But you should then get right back to the diet – don’t blow off the remainder of the day because you cheated! Take each meal as a separate event and don’t let one indiscretion derail your goals! Remember that dieting is a process, and sticking to it regularly will make you accomplish your weight loss goal.
Ask friends and family to support you. Peanut butter is forbidden in my house pre-contest! (If it’s here, it’s well hidden!) Let others know you’d like their help, and who knows, maybe you will end up motivating them to diet as well!
There are many complexities to why we choose to eat the way we do, but make your diet reasonable so you can stay with it, and the results you see will be motivating enough to help you stay the course. There are medications that can be prescribed to assist in weight loss, such as Phentermine (Adipex) and Meridia. These drugs stimulate the metabolism (make it faster) and suppress the appetite. Sometimes it’s a great jump start to your diet, and the extra energy can help you through your workout! There are also Lipotropic agents, both injections and capsules, which target fat loss from specific areas that have accumulated more fat than others. If interested, please visit my webpage at www.LajoieMedicalGroup.com for more information. Remember, we are all here to support each other!