Healthy Weight Loss: Managing Food Cravings


Study: Food Cravings May Just Be Calorie Cravings

When we think we’re dealing with carbohydrate cravings, a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity suggests we’re really just craving calories. But not just any source of calories…something that has a lot of them. We’re hungry, and we want something to satisfy. As we all know, that’s usually not a carrot stick.

Study Results

The study was part of a larger one that looked at various effects of energy restriction. It found that while 91% of people report food cravings normally, the figure rose to 94% when dieting. I’m surprised. I would have thought it might be closer to 100% when dieting. Other findings:

  • People who gave in to their cravings less frequently lost more weight. Duh.
  • Food craving or carbohydrate cravings “should probably relabeled as calorie addiction,” as one researcher states.

Addiction? I’d say everyone is addicted to calories, whether we label them as a craving or not! We can’t live without them.

Taking A Closer Look At The Food Cravings Study

On first reading this release, I didn’t know whether to celebrate or laugh. It’s great to see evidence supporting what we’ve long observed at Green Mountain at Fox Run.

Read This Related Article:
Mindful Eating: Portion Control and Enjoying Dessert

When participants report food cravings, we encourage them to examine their cravings, and determine whether they are the result of hunger rather than some undeniable urge to eat a specific food. We’ve found that when we eat regularly and don’t get too hungry (part of mindful eating), and let ourselves eat foods we like, even high-calorie ones in moderation, food cravings aren’t really such a problem.

Study Doesn’t Question Wisdom Of Dieting

But the way the other findings are reported is discouraging. Rather than questioning whether dieting is an appropriate undertaking, the researchers just say that we need to ‘give in’ less frequently to the cravings (or actually, they’re talking about giving in less frequently to the hunger) to get where we want to go with the diets. So we’re back to the old willpower bit.

And to call hunger a calorie addiction! Do I need to say more?

To make matters even worse, this work was paid for by our taxes.

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About the Author

Marsha Hudnall, MS, RDN, CD

If you’re looking for an embodiment of dedication disguised as obsession, look no further. Marsha is a registered dietitian who has spent the last four decades working to help women give up dieting rules and understand how to truly take care of themselves. Her mission in life is to help women learn to enjoy eating and living well, without worries about their weight. She encourages women to embrace their love of food, which you might call being a foodie. If so, it’s appropriate because being a foodie means you pay attention when you eat. That’s a recipe made in heaven for eating well. Marsha is the President and Co-Owner of Green Mountain at Fox Run.

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