We all get junk food cravings every now and then, let’s be honest. And if you’re one of those few lucky souls who don’t give in to these cravings easily, more power to you!
But the rest of us have to live with an eternal hankering for pizzas, French fries, ice cream and cookies – even writing this makes me want to run to fridge and devour the last slice of left-over birthday cake. And what’s wrong with treating yourself to piece of cake every now and then?
After all, there are countless studies proving that eating junk foods in small portions can actually help with cravings. Well, unfortunately, that’s old news.
Fighting Junk Food Cravings
What do you do when a sudden junk food craving strikes while you’re on a weight-loss diet? When I’m on a low-carb diet, the one savory snack that I crave the most is a bag of hot Cheetos.
For years, my go-to strategy has been to buy the snack whenever I’m craving it. Then, I eat only one serving of it at a time. Moderation is the key to good health, right? Well, a new study published in the journal Obesity shows that eating a small portion of your favorite snacks doesn’t really help with food cravings.
Have I been following the wrong strategy for fighting off junk food cravings? Apparently so. In the study, researchers observed dietary habits of 367 participants.
Scientists asked them to keep food journals and write down everything they ate in a day. Also, note whether their cravings were linked to their choice of food or not. At the end of the study, it was established that people who ate a certain food less frequently were less likely to develop a craving for it. This means that your cravings intensify every time you eat junk food – even if it is in a small quantity.
Resist the Temptation
So, if you want to get rid of cravings once and for all, you’re going to have to resist the temptation to dip into a bag of French fries or spoon out nutella straight from the jar. I am guilty of doing that. Researchers suggest eating these foods less frequently in order to curb cravings.
At the end of the day, food cravings have a close relationship with our conditioning response. They could be triggered by an internal stimulus like stress or an external one like meal timing. If you’ve previously given in to these cravings, you’re more likely to feel the need to eat every time you’re exposed to the same stimuli.
The research is still preliminary which means that we’ll need to see further studies performed on other groups of people – including restrictive dieters – to understand the effect of restraining foods and whether suppressing your cravings can lead to overeating.