I’m as guilty as anyone of stuffing my face at times. I find it hard to stop at a single slice of my favorite chocolate cake, or raiding the fridge for late night feasts.
Let’s face it, the pleasure and sense of comfort food gives us is hard to ignore. And it’s something we’ve been hardwired to enjoy since childhood.
As Michelle May, MD, author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, notes, “From the moment we’re born, we’re nurtured with food, rewarded with food, and so emotional connections to food are normal.”(1)
So there’s no reason to feel guilty about eating for pleasure.
But it can easily get out of control…
When it results in a ‘food trance’ where the urge is to eat, and eat, and eat, even after the stomach is full, is a warning sign that eating for pleasure has mutated into something more serious.
Why People Get Cravings for Junk Food
According to Harvard Health, common triggers of cravings for junk food include:(2)
1. Stress or boredom – A stressful day at work or being stuck at home with the kids can mean seeking reward through food.
2. Restrictive dieting – Drastically cutting calories and relying on willpower can only last so long. Eventually, the body’s hormones rebel, and people end up eating more than before.
3. Food addiction – Processed foods high in fat, sugar, and salt have been found to trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain as smoking or alcohol.
Sadly, due to these triggers, overeating is alarmingly common.
In fact, 5 million women and 3 million men struggle with overeating in the US. That’s more than double the numbers battling anorexia and bulimia combined.(3)
Health Risks of Overeating
Overpowering food cravings and overeating pose more risks than being overweight.
It can affect mood, self worth, impact relationships, and harm productivity at work.
While physically, chronic overeating can result in high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol, bouncing blood sugar, and other health complications.(4)
6 Ways to Reduce Cravings
Thankfully, cravings for unhealthy foods and overeating habits can be reduced or stopped altogether with the right strategy.
Here are 6 tips on how to do it.
1. Lose the ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude
Overeating and food binges often result from restrictive dieting attempts.
The problem with ALL restrictive diets is they can result in an ‘all-or-nothing’ attitude.(5)
In other words, they make people feel they MUST stick to the diet rigidly.
So the moment someone on eats something they’re not supposed to, like grab a piece of birthday cake from the break room, they feel like their dieting attempt has failed.
They think ‘screw it’ and feverish eating binges commence.
This is why the ‘all or nothing’ mindset is just a ticking time bomb for food binges, and trying to to follow a diet to perfection is doomed to fail.
All it does is cause frustration and feelings of failure that feed more of the eating binges people are trying to avoid.
So to stop overeating, it’s wise to give up on restrictive dieting, to not reduce calories too fast, and to make the switch to clean eating gradual.
Instead of thinking ‘I MUST’ eat this salad instead of a burger, reframe it as ‘I choose’ this salad.
Having the freedom to eat favorite foods in moderation and not stressing out over whether to eat a bag of potato chips when watching Game of Thrones can make a transition to cleaner eating easier to sustain long-term.
2. Find other sources of pleasure
Like Harvard Health says, the weird thing about food cravings is that they’re aren’t usually due to hunger.(6)
Cravings typically arise from stress, boredom, and to fill an emotional hole.
Because many of us walk around feeling like there’s something missing in our lives. We’re unfulfilled and dissatisfied.
For this reason, finding better ways to relieve stress and doing other things that provide a sense of reward is the only way to stop overeating long-term.
Writing a bucket list of things to try is a good way to start. Then pursuing those things can fill the hole of personal fulfilment instead of food.
3. Avoid Restrictive Calorie Cutting Diets
A lot of diets are focused on restricting calories. And while they’re effective at triggering rapid weight loss, restricting food intake can trigger the body’s survival mechanism.(7)
People’s bodies have a weight ‘set point’ they feel comfortable at.
If someone tries reducing weight too fast beyond this point their body can play all sorts of tricks to get it back to the previous weight.
Chief among these tricks is releasing more of the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin’.
The more calories are restricted the more ghrelin is released and the more someone craves food.(8)
This is why diets nearly always end in failure.
Because eventually gnawing hunger overpowers people’s willpower, and they find themselves back to their old overeating habits along with rebound weight.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when people starve themselves of calories their body goes into ‘starvation’ mode.(9)
Their body then holds on to more of the foods they do eat. But rather than turn them into nutrients and energy, food gets locked away as fat.
The bottom line is that calorie restrictive diets are a recipe for disaster.
They send hormones haywire, increase cravings, and often end up causing people to weigh more than when they’d started.
4. Eat Nutrient Dense Meals
A key reason why 2 in 3 Americans are now classed overweight or obese is because of the low nutrition in processed food.
The human body craves nutrients. And it won’t stop feeling hungry until it gets enough.
This is why people can eat… and eat… and eat processed foods yet still feel hungry.
It’s because processed foods are typically very low in nutrition.(10)
Luckily, the solution is simple: Eat more nutrient dense foods.
Nutrient dense foods include eggs, avocado, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and oily fish.(11)
Eating these foods will fill you up quicker and feeling full for longer, reducing your desire for overeating.
5. Relieve Stress in Healthier Ways
A common cause of overeating is stress. Because sadly, our body’s haven’t yet adapted to handling stress in a healthy way.
For our ancestors, stress was vital for their survival. Because the feelings of stress are simply your body’s response to danger, and stress is actually just your ‘fight-or-flight’ mode in action.(12)
Sadly, modern lifestyles can cause our stress response to be triggered far more often than is healthy.
Whether it’s struggling to hit a deadline at work or misbehaving teenagers, stress causes your stress hormone ’cortisol’ to rocket. And cortisol then sends blood and nutrients rushing to the brain and muscles.
Stress also triggers the desire to eat foods high sugar and carbs. This is because these foods get turned into glucose in the body. And glucose provides the quick release of energy your body needs to escape from danger.(13)
So to avoid the chain reaction of stress leading to cravings for junk food, find healthy ways of relieving stress rather than raiding the fridge.
6. Develop Body Confidence
Every day we’re bombarded with advertising, social media posts, and celebrity photos of how our body’s should look.
To make matters worse, these images have often been airbrushed to create an impossibly perfect image for selling diet food, weight loss plans, gym memberships, designer clothes, and surgery as the path to feeling good.
Naturally, being bombarded with images of body perfection has resulted in a widespread lack of body confidence, among both women and men.
All of us are under enormous pressure to look good. Which explains why billions are spent on weight loss products every year.
Instead, the focus should be on having a HEALTHY body rather than achieving a body shape that only exists in photoshop.
Rather than think our butt is too big or arms aren’t slim enough, we should focus on good qualities.
To do this requires self acceptance and having confidence in how we look.
Now, I know this is easier said than done.
Gaining body confidence is probably the hardest of these tips to pull off.
It requires long-term investment in self development and changing how we think and feel about the world around us.
Following a System Can Provide the Path to Success
As I hope these 6 tips have demonstrated, food cravings and overeating are deeply rooted in how our bodies respond to stress and how we connect food with pleasure.
Going on diets, relying on willpower, or taking diet pills to reduce cravings are all just short-term solutions. Inevitably, the body’s hormones take over and food binges soon follow.
So, the only way to cure cravings for junk food and overeating long-term is to dig deep and change the subconscious emotions driving it.
As Robin B. Kanarek, PhD, professor of psychology at Tufts University, says, “It can be hard to stop overeating…particularly if there are deep-rooted emotional problems involved.” (14)
The good news is that food cravings are something that can be overcome with patience and persistence, and by following a system with step-by-step guidance on how to do it.
With millions of people struggling with uncontrollable cravings for junk food, we decided to create a system for relieving cravings in 7 steps.
Our system was developed in collaboration with a lady called Brenda (you’ll understand why we’ve given her a pen name after you read her story). A lady who struggled with nightly cake binges before addressing the underlying issues driving her unhealthy relationship with food.
The system we created is called The 7 Steps to Freedom from Cravings.
It combines hypnosis with cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, body confidence, and other self development techniques to address the root causes of cravings, comfort eating, and food binges.
So for anyone concerned about the effect cravings for unhealthy foods are having on their self esteem, emotions, and all round health, the 7 step system is worth a try:
Disclaimer – The website’s content and the product for sale is based upon the author’s opinion and is provided solely on an “AS IS” and “AS AVAILABLE” basis. You should do your own research and confirm the information with other sources when searching for information regarding health issues and always review the information carefully with your professional health care provider before using any of the protocols presented on this website and/or in the product sold here. None of the statements have been reviewed or approved by the FDA.