Weight Control: Ward Off Cravings, Binge Eating (cont.)
Binge eating can be triggered throughout the day, and the reasons appear to be both physiological and psychological.
People most often give into unhealthy food cravings because they are genuinely hungry -- they haven't consumed enough nutrients to sustain themselves until the next meal, says Ruth Patrick, PhD, LDN, a spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists. The other side of that, she says, is that people often think they shouldn't be eating certain foods, or eating too much of anything. The more they think about it, the more intense their desire to have what's forbidden.
And once a craving strikes, it's oh-so-easy to get something to ease it.
"The fact is that, right now, the cost of food for anyone in this country is the lowest that it's ever been in history as a percentage of gross income," says Fergus Clydesdale, PhD, head of the food science department at the University of Massachusetts. "That makes everything available to everyone whenever they want."
To defend yourself from food cravings during the day:
Food cravings can hit hard in the last few hours of the workday, when people are likely to become bored, tired, or stressed. "Many people seem to naturally hit a low at this time," says Tallmadge.
"For some...the munchie monster tends to come out at night. Boredom, anxiety, weariness, and habit are the
Some may also feel that since they've put in a hard day of work, they deserve to reward themselves with food.
Emotions can be powerful triggers for binge eating, says Dorfman, explaining that the association between food and mood may have roots in family traditions, childhood memories, and culture: "Did you celebrate with cake and cookies on birthdays and holidays? Or when you were bad, did you run to the pantry and get yourself a treat to make yourself feel better?"
To keep your feelings from triggering an afternoon food binge:
Avoiding Evening Excess