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11 Tricks to Stop Unhealthy Food Cravings

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Food cravings are the dieter's worst enemy.

These are intense or uncontrollable desires for specific foods, stronger than normal hunger.

Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off.

The types of foods that people crave are highly variable, but these are often processed junk foods that are high in sugar.

Cravings are one of the biggest reasons why people have problems losing weight and keeping it off.

Here are 11 simple ways to prevent or stop unhealthy food and sugar cravings.

1. Drink Water

Thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings.

If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. You may find that the craving fades away because your body was actually just thirsty.

Furthermore, drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits. In middle-aged and older people, drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and help with weight loss (1, 2, 3).

Bottom Line: Drinking water before meals may reduce cravings and appetite, as well as help with weight loss.

2. Eat More Protein

Eating more protein may reduce your appetite and keep you from overeating.

It also reduces cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied for longer (4).

One study of overweight teenage girls showed that eating a high-protein breakfast reduced cravings significantly (5).

Another study in overweight men showed that increasing protein intake to 25 percent of calories reduced cravings by 60 percent. Additionally, the desire to snack at night was reduced by 50 percent (6).

Bottom Line: Increasing protein intake may reduce cravings by up to 60 percent and cut the desire to snack at night by 50 percent.

3. Distance Yourself From the Craving

When you feel a craving, try to distance yourself from it.

For example, you can take a brisk walk or a shower to shift your mind onto something else. A change in thought and environment may help stop the craving.

Some studies have also shown that chewing gum can help reduce appetite and cravings (7, 8).

Bottom Line: Try to distance yourself from the craving by chewing gum, going on a walk or taking a shower.

4. Plan Your Meals

If possible, try to plan your meals for the day or upcoming week.

By already knowing what you're going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty.

If you don't have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.

Bottom Line: Planning your meals for the day or upcoming week eliminates spontaneity and uncertainty, both of which can cause cravings.

5. Avoid Getting Extremely Hungry

Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings.

To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and have healthy snacks close at hand.

By being prepared and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.

Bottom Line: Hunger is a big reason for cravings. Avoid extreme hunger by always having a healthy snack ready.

6. Fight Stress

Stress may induce food cravings and influence eating behaviors, especially for women (9, 10, 11).

Women under stress have been shown to eat significantly more calories and experience more cravings than non-stressed women (12).

Furthermore, stress raises your blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area (13, 14).

Try to minimize stress in your environment by planning ahead, meditating and generally slowing down.

Bottom Line: Being under stress may induce cravings, eating and weight gain, especially in women.

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7. Take Spinach Extract

Spinach extract is a “new" supplement on the market, made from spinach leaves.

It helps delay fat digestion, which increases the levels of hormones that reduce appetite and hunger, such as GLP-1.

Studies show that taking 3.7–5 grams of spinach extract with a meal may reduce appetite and cravings for several hours (15, 16, 17, 18).

One study in overweight women showed that 5 grams of spinach extract per day reduced cravings for chocolate and high-sugar foods by a whopping 87–95 percent (18).

Bottom Line: Spinach extract delays the digestion of fat and increases the levels of hormones that can reduce appetite and cravings.

8. Practice Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is about practicing mindfulness, a type of meditation, in relation to foods and eating.

It teaches you to develop awareness of your eating habits, emotions, hunger, cravings and physical sensations (19, 20).

Mindful eating teaches you to distinguish between cravings and actual physical hunger. It helps you choose your response, instead of acting thoughtlessly or impulsively (21).

Eating mindfully involves being present while you eat, slowing down and chewing thoroughly. It is also important to avoid distractions, like the TV or your smartphone.

One 6-week study in binge eaters found that mindful eating reduced binge eating episodes from 4 to 1.5 per week. It also reduced the severity of each binge (22).

Bottom Line: Mindful eating is about learning to recognize the difference between cravings and actual hunger, helping you choose your response.

9. Get Enough Sleep

Your appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day.

Sleep deprivation disrupts the fluctuations and may lead to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings (23, 24).

Studies support this, showing that sleep-deprived people are up to 55 percent more likely to become obese, compared to people who get enough sleep (25).

For this reason, getting good sleep may be one of the most powerful ways to prevent cravings from showing up.

Bottom Line: Sleep deprivation may disrupt normal fluctuations in appetite hormones, leading to cravings and poor appetite control.

10. Eat Proper Meals

Hunger and a lack of key nutrients can both cause certain cravings.

Therefore, it's important to eat proper meals at mealtimes. This way, your body gets the nutrients it needs and you won't get extremely hungry right after eating.

If you find yourself in need of a snack between meals, make sure it's something healthy. Reach for whole foods, such as fruits, nuts, vegetables or seeds.

Bottom Line: Eating proper meals helps prevent hunger and cravings, while also ensuring that your body gets the nutrients it needs.

11. Don't Go to the Supermarket Hungry

Grocery stores are probably the worst places to be when you are hungry or have cravings.

First, they give you easy access to pretty much any food you could think of. Second, supermarkets usually place the unhealthiest foods at eye level.

The best way to prevent cravings from happening at the store is to shop only when you've recently eaten. Never—ever—go to the supermarket hungry.

Bottom Line: Eating before you go to the supermarket helps reduce the risk of unwanted cravings and impulsive buying.

Take Home Message

Cravings are very common. In fact, more than 50 percent of people experience cravings on a regular basis (26).

They play a major role in weight gain, food addiction and binge eating (27).

Being aware of your cravings and their triggers makes them much easier to avoid. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthy and lose weight.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

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The patient in the case report (let's call him Tom) was 54 and in good health. For two days in May, he felt unwell and was too weak to get out of bed. When his family finally brought him to the hospital, doctors found that he had a fever and signs of a severe infection, or sepsis. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection. In addition to symptoms of COVID-19, he was also too weak to move his legs.

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We are neurologists specializing in intensive care and leading studies related to neurological complications from COVID-19. Given the occurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in prior pandemics with other corona viruses like SARS and MERS, we are investigating a possible link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19 and tracking published reports to see if there is any link between Guillain-Barre Syndrome and COVID-19.

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What Is Guillain-Barre Syndrome?

Guillain-Barre syndrome occurs when the body's own immune system attacks and injures the nerves outside of the spinal cord or brain – the peripheral nervous system. Most commonly, the injury involves the protective sheath, or myelin, that wraps nerves and is essential to nerve function.

Without the myelin sheath, signals that go through a nerve are slowed or lost, which causes the nerve to malfunction.

To diagnose Guillain-Barre Syndrome, neurologists perform a detailed neurological exam. Due to the nerve injury, patients often may have loss of reflexes on examination. Doctors often need to perform a lumbar puncture, otherwise known as spinal tap, to sample spinal fluid and look for signs of inflammation and abnormal antibodies.

Studies have shown that giving patients an infusion of antibodies derived from donated blood or plasma exchange – a process that cleans patients' blood of harmful antibodies - can speed up recovery. A very small subset of patients may need these therapies long-term.

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Guillain-Barre Syndrome and Pandemics

As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, many neurologic specialists have been on the lookout for potentially serious nervous system complications such as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

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Studies showed an increase in Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases following the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, suggesting a possible connection. The presumed cause for this link is that the body's own immune response to fight the infection turns on itself and attacks the peripheral nerves. This is called an "autoimmune" condition. When a pandemic affects as many people as our current COVID-19 crisis, even a rare complication can become a significant public health problem. That is especially true for one that causes neurological dysfunction where the recovery takes a long time and may be incomplete.

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Though there is clear clinical suspicion that COVID-19 can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, many important questions remain. What are the chances that someone gets Guillain-Barre Syndrome during or following a COVID-19 infection? Does Guillain-Barre Syndrome happen more often in those who have been infected with COVID-19 compared to other types of infections, such as the flu?

The only way to get answers is through a prospective study where doctors perform systematic surveillance and collect data on a large group of patients. There are ongoing large research consortia hard at work to figure out answers to these questions.

Understanding the Association Between COVID-19 and Guillain-Barre Syndrome

While large research studies are underway, overall it appears that Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a rare but serious phenomenon possibly linked to COVID-19. Given that more than 10.7 million cases have been reported for COVID-19, there have been 10 reported cases of COVID-19 patients with Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far – only two reported cases in the U.S., five in Italy, two cases in Iran and one from Wuhan, China.

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Though the reported cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome so far all have severe symptoms, this is not uncommon in a pandemic situation where the less sick patients may stay home and not present for medical care for fear of being exposed to the virus. This, plus the limited COVID-19 testing capability across the U.S., may skew our current detection of Guillain-Barre Syndrome cases toward the sicker patients who have to go to a hospital. In general, the majority of Guillain-Barre Syndrome patients do recover, given enough time. We do not yet know whether this is true for COVID-19-related cases at this stage of the pandemic. We and colleagues around the world are working around the clock to find answers to these critical questions.

Sherry H-Y. Chou is an Associate Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Neurology, and Neurosurgery, University of Pittsburgh.

Aarti Sarwal is an Associate Professor, Neurology, Wake Forest University.

Neha S. Dangayach is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

Disclosure statement: Sherry H-Y. Chou receives funding from The University of Pittsburgh Clinical Translational Science Institute (CTSI), the National Institute of Health, and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Dean's Faculty Advancement Award. Sherry H-Y. Chou is a member of Board of Directors for the Neurocritical Care Society. Neha S. Dangayach receives funding from the Bee Foundation, the Friedman Brain Institute, the Neurocritical Care Society, InCHIP-UConn Center for mHealth and Social Media Seed Grant. She is faculty for emcrit.org and for AiSinai. Aarti Sarwal does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Reposted with permission from The Conversation.


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Sanders said that while the "end result isn't what I or my supporters would've written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country."

"I look forward to working with Vice President Biden to help him win this campaign," the Vermont senator added, "and to move this country forward toward economic, racial, social, and environmental justice."

Biden, for his part, applauded the task forces "for helping build a bold, transformative platform for our party and for our country."

"I am deeply grateful to Bernie Sanders for working with us to unite our party and deliver real, lasting change for generations to come," said the former vice president.

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"There is no going back," Franco added. "Not an inch, not a step. We must only move forward from here."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.