8 March 11 Food Cravings

Do you have particular food cravings, especially during the evening? Then it's time to do some detective work and figure out why. Cravings can wreck havoc with your weight loss and maintenance plans, so it is important to understand how you can manage them.

1. Are you truly hungry?
Many people complain about craving specific foods, especially in the evening after dinner. Is it a craving or are you actually hungry and simply prefer certain foods to satisfy that hunger? If you are truly hungry, then any food will work to help satisfy your hunger. So eat the healthful stuff instead of the junk!

If you are trying to rock a calories deficit that is too high for you to maintain, then excessive hunger will be an uninvited guest. Simply push your target date further out so that you can lose weight at a slower pace.

If only a specific food will satisfy you (e.g. potato chips, Snickers Bar, etc), then you have a craving.

2. Are you craving carbs?
Do you skip meals or have long time gaps in between meals? A long gap would be more than 4-5 hours between meals. If yes, then you might be "running on empty" by the time you eat your next meal. Blood glucose is our brain's primary fuel source and the carbohydrates we eat directly influence our blood glucose level. Skip meals and you skip carbs too. Low-carb diets, while tolerated by many, are not tolerated well by some of us. Know yourself!

Start by eating at least three meals a day. You might even do better on 6 smaller meals a day, spaced out by about 2-3 hours. Try to include protein, carbs and fat in meals.

3. Are you craving salt?
If you track sodium and find that you crave salt even when your sodium intake is above 2300 mg (the current guideline for the general public), then I want you to experiment to find out what helps you decrease those cravings.

If your intake is well above 2300 mg, then decrease your sodium intake in stages. You are probably used to a very high sodium intake and a lower intake probably doesn't feel right to you. Start by decreasing the big ticket items – you can find these in your food report in MyNetDiary.

Over time (perhaps weeks to months), you will find that your taste for salt will actually diminish.
For foods that you have always salted, try using a salt substitute to get a salty or spicy taste without much sodium.

Also, try drinking a glass of low-fat or skim milk with your reduced sodium snack. This will give you water, potassium, and about 100 mg of sodium, along with some protein. You might find this strategy helpful in reducing your salt craving.

4. Are you thirsty?
Do you find yourself craving moist foods like ice cream, shakes, or even soda pop and juice? Sometimes people confuse this with craving carbs when what they are really seeking is water. This is more likely for those of you who exercise regularly or sweat a lot. Start by tracking your water intake. You can add water to your daily record to get a complete total of water intake from both beverages and foods. For more information on water, see
"Water Needs" at MyNetDiary.com.

If you have decided that you are both hungry and thirsty, then fruit, non-starchy veggies and low-fat/non-fat milk, or milk substitute, might be good options for you to try.
Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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Weight Loss/Cravings

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