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Strategies for Success in Weight Management By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

Managing Your Cravings Going for the 3 Increases: Increase in Health, Increase in Happiness & Increase in Energy. Strategies for Success in Weight Management By: James J. Messina, Ph.D. It starts with the Neurotransmitters. Serotonin – triggers cravings for sweets

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Strategies for Success in Weight Management By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

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  1. Managing Your CravingsGoing for the 3 Increases: Increase in Health, Increase in Happiness & Increase in Energy Strategies for Success in Weight Management By: James J. Messina, Ph.D.

  2. It starts with the Neurotransmitters • Serotonin – triggers cravings for sweets • NPY - triggers a desire for pancakes and waffles in the morning • Galanin - triggers cravings to sweet-and-creamy or meat-and-potatoes by mid-afternoon • Endorphins – triggers eating desserts pleasurable

  3. Eating to boost one’s mood • Feel sad, down, disappointed, low…? • Carbohydrates: starches, pasta, or sweets, raise levels of serotonin in the brain • Carbohydrates boost mood but we need to eat them in moderation!

  4. Craving differences between men & women • Typically women crave - sugar-fat mixtures: ice cream, chocolate, cookies, pies, doughnuts & cake • Typically men “prefer” protein-fat mixtures - steak, meatloaf, potatoes and gravy, or hamburgers

  5. These cravings have existed since the cavepeople… • Researchers at Rockefeller University theorize that these are age-old craving differences between men & women These cravings were useful in days when: • cavemen needed to maintain high levels of muscle mass to hunt • cavewomen needed to maintain body fat stores in the event of pregnancy

  6. Cravings are mood related • Women have reported feeling bored, lonely or depressed when they indulged in their desired food • Men associated giving in to cravings with feelings of happiness and relaxation. • Less than 40 percent of cravers said they were hungry when they experienced cravings

  7. You are born with a “craving” set • Each person is born with a unique nerve chemical profile & set of cravings • This fact is not a license to binge • You can’t change your genetic makeup • You can coax these neurotransmitters • Even small changes in balance of nerve chemicals can have far-reaching effects on your mood, energy levels & appetite

  8. PMS and Over Indulging Cravings • Cravings amplify during the two weeks prior to a woman’s period, probably because fluctuating estrogen levels have a domino effect on brain chemistry, sending many appetite control chemicals into a tailspin • But overeating sugar, salty or high-fat snack foods, or caffeine will only make PMS symptoms worse

  9. Give in to it or let the craving pass • Sometimes a craving may pass after about 15 minutes • Repeatedly resisting cravings may set you up for bingeing • Many dietitians recommend giving in when you’ve got it bad, it takes 100 calories of a craved food to quell the yearning e.g.Eight Nacho chips, 14 Gummi Bears or one fun-size package of M&Ms.

  10. Timing of Cravings • Skipping breakfast or lunch can cause blood sugar to drop - leading to afternoon cravings • 3-6 pm is prime time for cravings • Never let more than four hours go by between meals or snacks

  11. Chocolate the Most Craved Food • Taste of chocolate on the tongue is likely to release endorphins in brain producing euphoric or pleasurable feeling • Sugar in chocolate may raise Serotonin levels & soothe gloomy mood & relax you • Creamy taste of chocolate may soothe need for fat fueled by Galanin • Aroma of chocolate may affect brain chemistry

  12. Nothing curbs chocolate craving but chocolate:for crave-prone times Plan: Late afternoon snack: • 3 to 4 Hershey’s Kisses, not entire bag orFive dried apricots dipped in chocolate orSlice chocolate angel food cake topped with raspberries Plan: In the evening snack: • Two cups of oranges, bananas & strawberries dipped in 1/4 cup dark chocolate syrup or cup of fat-free chocolate cocoa

  13. Steps to control cravings: 1. Listen to your cravings • They’re telling you something • Cravings for sweets are an unconscious effort to raise Serotonin or NPY levels • Desire for creamy or fatty foods ice cream to steak may be a basic need to satisfy Galanin or Endorphin levels

  14. Steps to control cravings: 1. Listen to your cravings • Willpower won’t work with these powerful brain chemicals, so work with them instead, by using nutritious foods to calm cravings and boost mood • If mid-afternoon you crave something sweet, turn to fig bars, graham crackers with peanut butter, air-popped popcorn, or a raisin bagel with all-fruit jam

  15. Steps to control cravings: 2. Cut back on sugar and caffeine • These quick-fix solutions only amplify or aggravate cravings in the long run

  16. Steps to control cravings: 3. Give in to it If the craving doesn’t go away • Eat the desired food instead of stuffing yourself with everything but kitchen sink • Stop short of a binge • Buy single-serve food packages • Serve a reasonable portion and eat it outside of the kitchen

  17. Steps to control cravings: 4. Create a ritual • Make eating treats special • Instead of eating a half-gallon of ice cream in front of the freezer, spoon some into a nice bowl, sit in your favorite chair, eat slowly and savor each bite

  18. Steps to control cravings: 5. Exercise • People who exercise report fewer cravings than non-exercisers due in part to the mood altering Endorphins released during physical activity • Exercisers tend to feel more in control of their bodies & may be less likely to binge

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