July 23 2015

Control Your Cravings!

Control Your Cravings!

Written by Amber Leon, MS, DTR, RevUp Health Coach

Do you know the difference between your physical hunger pangs versus mind hunger or cravings? Contrary to what you might think, food cravings aren’t the same as hunger pangs. Physical hunger pangs are the body’s signal that the stomach is empty and blood sugar levels have dropped—it is your body saying EAT! Hunger builds slowly and gradually. In contrast, cravings are mental, emotional and habitual with a rapid onset and intense desire to eat specific foods.

When we crave certain foods, we are seeking a reward in the form of pleasure. This intense desire is driven by the brain, which has learned how to achieve pleasurable feelings associated with foods. This is your unconscious brain—the routine, habit, pain avoiding and pleasure-seeking mind.

Example 1: Tired and bored at your desk > crave chocolate > eat a chocolate bar > feel satisfied

Example 2: Celebrating an accomplishment > treat yourself to a decadent dessert > feel rewarded


What does this mean? We crave foods that have been connected with pleasure and reward in our past. The key offenders are typically sugary, fatty and salty foods. Layer these and you’ve got a highly rewarding recipe for continued intense cravings. The good news: these cravings don’t have to be a permanent staple! 

How can you work through cravings? 

Pay attention to your cravings

Recognize when the craving occurs and ask yourself if you understand the emotions you’re experiencing. At first, simply pay attention. Don’t judge or react—don’t change anything yet. The key is to really understand the feelings and urges you experience before, during and after cravings occur.  This moves cravings to your conscious brain—the logical, driven and goal oriented mind.

Work to understand the reward 

Ask yourself what reward you are seeking. Did the routine deliver the reward?

Adjust the trigger and routine 

Once you’re crystal clear where the craving comes from and have identified the reward, change the trigger or the routine to produce the same reward you desire.

If we change the way we think about something, we can change the way we “feel” about it. Try out this plan to control cravings and share with your RevUp Health Coach.

About Amber Leon, RevUp Health Coach

coach-amber.jpgCredentials: Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition
National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT)
Dietetic Technician, Registered (DTR) 

Specialties: Sport nutrition, group and individual consultations, corporate wellness, weight management, mindful eating, whole foods cooking, and educational workshops

More about me: I am originally from Northern California and I have my MS from Bastyr University. I have worked as a personal trainer and provided evidence-based nutrition for wellness, disease prevention, and optimal performance, advocating the healing power of nutrition. I also compete as a fitness professional in the International Fitness Body Building & Fitness (IFBB.)

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