Put a stop to food cravings

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Some people speculate that when you crave a certain food, your body is telling you something.

“The jury is out” on that theory, said Chief Clinical Dietician at Merit Health River Region Hospital Gwen Robinson. “There’s some studies that say there really are reasons why people have cravings, like physiological. But there’s nothing I read that really substantiates that.”

Robinson said if cravings were physiologically related, then people would crave more vegetables. She recalled a number of research articles she recently read and brought up one point made involving Ivan Pavlov’s dogs in his classical conditioning experiment.

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“I was just reading over it and it said, it was not so much they were craving the food, they associated the white coats of the people coming in to feed them that would make salivate. It was like a sensory thing.”

Subconscious triggers in society, whether it’s the smell of popcorn at the movies, nachos at football game and even the colors in a fast-food logo, play a part in making people hungry. Robinson said people might also associate food with emotions and crave snacks that are high in fat and sugar.

Comfort foods such as potato chips, ice cream and chocolate still can be eaten, but in moderation.

“You don’t have to totally give up the foods you like or crave. Just cut them down in your diet. Instead of eating it everyday, eat it once a week,” said Clinical Dietician at Merit Health Fran Nosser.

Nosser is a big believer in getting the recommended 2-½ cups of vegetables and suggested people try different ways of cooking vegetables, other than steaming them.

There are healthy alternatives for the basic salt, fats, sugar and salts cravings.

If you crave sugar, try eating more whole grains, apples, honey and cooked fruit. Eating more vegetables and salads, and drinking more water can curb coffee and caffeine cravings.

Herbs and spices, black beans and natural soy sauce help to kick salt cravings. Try eating more leafy greens, whole grains, beans and fish if you crave dairy products. Also, try switching to milks made with soy, rice or nuts.

Lastly, foods high in protein such as eggs and chicken are healthy replacements for fats and sweets. Cooking with olive or canola oil, using lower-fat or lower-calorie versions of dressings also serve as smart options for fats and sweets in you diet.

“Instead of chips and dip, crunchy vegetables and hummus is really good snack and it’s healthy for you,” Nosser said. “You can buy the single packs of carrots with ranch or apples with peanut butter. That would be a good alternative.”