Cakes, chips, pizza, chocolate. What do these have in common besides the fact that they are nummynummynummy? They often have a high glycemic load, which causes your blood sugar to spike and then crash. This crash makes people crave foods more intensely, especially high sugar and fat foods. “Also, highly processed foods appear to more intensely activate the reward centers of our brain than more natural foods, like nuts and carrots. Our brain remembers those pleasurable feelings and when we see cues that remind us of these foods it can trigger cravings,” says Ashley Gearhardt, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Michigan.
Hunger tamer: “We suggest that people work on identifying foods that are less processed, but that they really like," says Dr. Gearhardt. "For example, mango with Greek yogurt or carrots and hummus. Then make sure you are eating regular meals and one or two snacks composed of these high-quality foods that you enjoy. You will feel less deprived and we know that when people go long periods of time without eating it sets them up for intense cravings." She adds that you should spend some time identifying what your personal triggers are. This can be external triggers (e.g., certain times of day, walking past a bakery, cookies that a friend made) or internal triggers (e.g., boredom, sadness, happiness, fatigue). Try to minimize your exposure to external triggers when possible and have healthy snacks on hand as a substitute.