Food cravings are a major problem that many of us struggle with every day. One common misconception is that you need to use more willpower to lose weight. There is a better way to eat and end your food cravings without using willpower. First, let’s look at what’s happening when the craving occurs.
Common food cravings
When you go to the gas station, do you suddenly crave potato chips or candy bars?
When you see the golden arches do you feel the urge to use the drive-thru to grab a cheeseburger and French fries?
Various cues can stimulate an urge to eat junk foods. Cravings are commonly associated with high calorie processed food, fast food, sugar, fat, and salt. Intellectually, you know you’re eating something unhealthy, but you feel like you cannot make yourself stop.
Here’s why willpower doesn’t work
Willpower doesn’t end your food cravings because the root of the problem is not a lack of willpower. Biologically our brains are wired to prefer, high-calorie food. Junk food causes a surge of dopamine and other chemicals in your brain resulting in a pleasurable experience.
This is why our early ancestors were attracted to the fruit. Given the choice between a banana or a twig, of course, most people choose the banana. This gravitation toward picking higher calorie food was a very useful survival mechanism for human beings. The difference is that our ancestors didn’t have access to cookies, potato chips, cheeseburgers, and fries.
Drive-thrus makes it too easy. You are basically responding to an environment where you are surrounded by unhealthy food choices.
The consequences are serious. Junk food is calorie-dense and increases the risk of weight gain and other chronic illnesses.
Plant-based food reduces cravings
You’re not likely to succeed by bolstering your willpower. Instead, focus on the types of food you’re eating. A 2019 research study shows that people feel significantly more satisfied and full after a vegan (plant-based meal) compared to a meal of processed meat and cheese. [Ref 1] The plant-based meals resulted in an increase in the gut hormones that promote satiety.
Research shows that plant-based food facilitates weight loss because it’s naturally more satisfying and low in calories [Ref 2]
Science reveals that we really don’t need more self-discipline. Instead, we need to eat more of the food that nature intended for us to eat. By focusing on the type of food we’re eating, we can control our appetites without feeling hungry or deprived.
Ref 1. Klementova M, Thieme L, Haluzik M, Pavlovicova R, Hill M, Pelikanova T, Kahleova H. A Plant-Based Meal Increases Gastrointestinal Hormones and Satiety More Than an Energy- and Macronutrient-Matched Processed-Meat Meal in T2D, Obese, and Healthy Men: A Three-Group Randomized Crossover Study. Nutrients. 2019 Jan 12;11(1).
Ref 2. Bandini LG1, Vu D, Must A, Cyr H, Goldberg A, Dietz WH. Comparison of high-calorie, low-nutrient-dense food consumption among obese and non-obese adolescents.Obes Res. 1999 Sep;7(5):438-43. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10509600
If you are experiencing diabetes and want to learn about the power of plant-based nutrition to support your health, book a free discovery call with me.
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Carla Hightower, MD, MBA is a physician, health coach, workplace wellness consultant, and speaker. She helps people heal themselves with food. Through wellness workshops and courses, she helps companies create healthy, energetic teams.
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