Resisting Food Cravings When Dieting Leads to Higher Weight Loss Than Simply Watching What You Eat
Food cravings are a natural part of dieting. However, the relationship between cravings and the effectiveness of a diet haven’t always been clear. A recent research study published by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition sought to understand how weight loss and food cravings affect one another.
About the Study
During the study, 2,932 people participated in an online survey that measured the frequency, specificity and intensity of food cravings, as well as their behavior following food cravings. The survey also followed the participants’ body weight, mood and perceived success of the diet. Some of the people participating in the survey were dieting to lose weight, while others were simply trying to maintain their current weight.
The results of the survey indicated that people who are actively trying to lose weight experience fewer and less intense food cravings than those who were only trying to maintain their weight. People who were dieting to lose weight were also more likely to resist food cravings than those who were trying not to gain. As weight loss continued, cravings became less frequent, less intense and easier for subjects to resist. Subjects who ate in response to food cravings weren’t as successful at losing or maintaining weight.
Based on these results, researchers concluded that people who are able to resist eating in response to food cravings lose more weight than those who aren’t able to resist. People who felt in control of their eating habits were also able to lose more weight than those who didn’t.
Most Common Food Cravings
People who are dieting can crave almost any type of food. In many cases, these cravings are connected to the individual’s emotions. Here are some of the most common cravings, along with the emotion that often causes them.
- Salty foods – Salty foods are often connected to feelings of anxiety. However, too much salt causes water retention, high blood pressure and other problems.
- Sweet foods and starches – Sweet foods provide comfort to people who are stressed, tired or depressed. Unfortunately, the extra sugar causes weight gain.
- Spicy foods and caffeine – Both spicy foods and caffeine cravings often indicate a desire for intensity, adventure or wakefulness. However, in large amounts, these foods can cause health problems and interfere with dieting.
How to Manage Food Cravings
Food cravings are a natural part of the dieting and weight loss process. Here are some tips to manage cravings and improve the effectiveness of dieting.
- Drink water. Water can suppress the appetite and effectively eliminate cravings. Instead of giving in to desires for unhealthy foods, drink a glass of water and wait for the craving to subside.
- Exercise. Exercise releases endorphins into the body, which can improve your mood and prevent cravings related to negative emotions.
- Eat small, frequent meals. Instead of eating three large meals each day, consider eating more frequent, smaller meals to keep your cravings at bay.
- Choose whole foods over processed foods. Replacing processed foods with natural sugars from fruit and other whole foods can reduce cravings and aid with weight loss.