We've all been there: One minute you are sitting idly, minding your own business when - BAM! — a craving strikes that's so intense, you can't think of anything else. Why and when we crave certain foods has been debated for years, but scientists are coming close to an answer.
As you might have guessed, cravings are all in your head. Research shows that how strong your cravings are depends on how vividly you can imagine them. Look at it this way: When you are intensely thinking about a forbidden treat, it can take up the majority of your brainpower, and concentrating on other tasks becomes downright difficult. That's why when you suddenly want a piece of chocolate, only a piece of chocolate will do, and everything else takes a backseat to the visions of bon bons dancing in your head.
Luckily, you can use the same logic to thwart those random snack attacks. Distracting yourself with thoughts that aren't food-related can quash cravings. The next time a bag of chips or a gooey cinnamon bun comes calling, try one of these simple craving busters:
- Pop a piece of sugar-free peppermint gum into your mouth. The feeling of clean teeth will prevent you from noshing on unhealthy snacks, and the scent has been proven to reduce appetites.
- Take a quick walk around the neighborhood and soak in your surroundings. The beautiful flowers, yapping dogs and clear skies can take your mind off of that nagging internal itch.
- Intense exercise has been shown to reduce your appetite. Hop on your bike or grab some weights for a 30-minute sweat session. Cravings? What cravings?
- Sniff some eucalyptus. Just thinking of this scent was found to be successful in a cravings study.
- Try acupressure. Some believe that acupressure can help alleviate stubborn cravings. Place two fingers below your ear where your jaw hinges. Open your mouth until you feel a bump, then press and hold.