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Chocoholics: fighting the cravings

Chocolate: "The food of the devil."
Chocolate: "The food of the devil."
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Many people, especially women, find that the most difficult part of dieting is fighting off those intense chocolate cravings. But why is it that we crave this delectable delight and how can we stop cravings for good?

The only way to fight a craving is to understand why it occurs. Sugar cravings are often at their most intense after a meal. This is due to eating habits ("emotional eating"), brain chemistry, and diet. Statistics show that most American diets are made up of 50% sugar and fat, which has fueled the perpetual, astonishing rates of American obesity. This regular consumption of fatty, sugary foods causes chemical changes in the brain, thus causing you to crave sweets.

Cravings can also happen when there are low levels of Serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical, which regulates mood. Sweet, sugary foods cause your brain to produce Serotonin, which is why people often “feel good” after indulging.

The worst thing you can do is to deprive yourself of these cravings. Deprivation often leads to binge eating. Here are some simple solutions to help curb your chocolate-covered desires.

  •  Have a piece of dark chocolate. Studies show that dark chocolate can curb cravings while also helping to lower blood pressure and supplying the body with antioxidants.
  • Allow yourself a “fun size” bar. A fun size snickers bar is a total of 80 calories. You can indulge in a tasty treat to fight the cravings without wasting too many calories. Peanuts also help to reduce hunger for longer.
  • Chew sugar-free gum. A recent research study highlighted on CBS news showed that “participants who chewed the gum decreased their overall snack intake by 40 calories, and lessened their sweet snack intake by 60 calories. When they chewed gum, they reported feeling less hungry and had fewer sweet cravings.”
  • Have some fresh or dried fruit. By eating 4 servings of fruit per day you can eliminate sugar cravings altogether.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet. Eat breakfast, include protein with each meal, include 4 servings of fruit, avoid artificial sweeteners, and eat at regular set times.
     

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