We seek pleasure and avoid pain. When we gratify our cravings, our bodies reward us with feelings of pleasure. That’s why it’s sometimes just so hard to turn down unhealthy food such as a second helping of a greasy plate of your beloved char kway teow or that bowl of oily mutton soup. Every time we indulge in our food cravings, we are rewarded with feelings of pleasure!
When you see sugar-laden pineapple tarts or deep-fried chicken, what kind of emotions do you feel? As long as we associate pleasure with junk foods that are not good for our bodies, we will find it really hard to say no to them. When we keep eating junk food for a long term, it will only form unhealthy eating habits that hurt our health in the end.
So what can we do about our natural, human urge to satisfy our cravings for chocolate and ice cream? We can associate pleasure with choosing a healthy, balanced and varied diet as informed by My Healthy Plate — a plate of food in portions that give our bodies the nutrition we need to stay healthy and feel great.
Why Should I Eat Healthy?
Every time we choose healthier options, we think about how our bodies will be nourished, how we will feel really good, how doing so will reduce the chances of us getting diabetes or heart attacks and, as a result, increase our ability to enjoy life today and in the future. It can also help with weight loss or weight management.
Once we have made this emotional connection, every time we reach out for and choose healthier meals, our bodies will experience pleasure and the more we experience pleasure, the more desirable healthier choices become. And the more desirable they become, the easier it is to choose them.
After some time, we may actually find it difficult to stop eating healthy foods and begin to associate pain with excessive portions of oily, greasy or overly salty foods. And the more pain we associate with what is harmful to us, the easier it will be for us to say no.
Quick Tips on How to Stop Food Cravings
- Drink water. When you have an urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water first. Your body may have confused thirst with hunger instead.
- Practise mindful eating. It teaches us to develop an awareness of our own eating habits and food cravings.
- Distract yourself. Playing a game on your mobile for 10 to 20 minutes may help stop the craving. You could also go for a short walk or just talk to a friend/colleague.
- Get more sleep. When we are sleep deprived, we may start craving for foods that are high in sugar, fat, or calories. Getting that extra hour of sleep a day may just be the simple answer to your junk food cravings.
Food cravings are very common and many of us may struggle with them. Being aware of these cravings and being mindful of how and what we eat can help reduce these cravings, and improve our overall health as well.