PhotoThough this time of year may be many consumers’ favorite, it can be difficult for those trying to maintain a healthy diet or exercise regimen. Being surrounded by candy and sweets at office parties or family gatherings can leave many people with a sweet tooth throughout the holiday season.

However, following the review of nearly 30 scientific studies, researchers found that there are several ways for consumers to fight food cravings regardless of the time of year, including physical activity, change in diet or prescription medication, and bariatric surgery.

“Craving influences what people eat and their body weight, but there are some components of our behavior and diet that we do have control over,” said Dr. Candace Meyers. “Being mindful of these desires gives us more control over them.

Change in behavior

In evaluating over two dozen scientific studies, the researchers found several tangible ways for consumers to have more control over their eating habits. For starters, the group explains that craving a specific food accounts for 11 percent of weight gain and eating habits, which is greater than genetics.

“Food craving is an important piece of the weight-loss puzzle,” Dr. Meyers said. “It doesn’t explain weight gain 100 percent. A number of other factors, including genetics and eating behavior, are also involved.”

Frequent exercisers should be warned that exercise often increases cravings, while losing weight has the opposite effect.

Additionally, for consumers looking to cut back on a certain food item, the researchers found that reducing portion size typically isn’t effective. Instead, eliminating the food from the diet completely is a better way to cut down on cravings.

Obesity medication was also found to reduce cravings. For those taking phentermine, lorcaserin, semaglitude, and liraglitude, among others, the drugs alone could be working to benefit consumers’ eating habits.

The researchers also note in their study that different ethnic or socioeconomic groups could handle food cravings differently, though more research is needed in this area to produce any concrete findings.

Managing cravings

Fighting food cravings isn’t an easy task, and a recent study conducted by researchers from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health recently found that eliminating food from our diets can have strong side effects.

The researchers found that for those who are working on healthier diets, the withdrawal symptoms echo those of drug addicts going through withdrawal, particularly for those who consumed diets that consisted primarily of junk food.

Though the participants reported feeling irritable, sad, and fatigued after cutting out junk food, the symptoms did lessen after about five days.


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