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Nutrition Facts: Cravings

      Whether it be after a workout, during second block, or late at night, all of you have experienced a food craving. Cravings are the desire for a specific type of food, whether you are hungry or not, and they can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several weeks. So why do these yearnings occur?

      Fulfilling our food cravings causes our body to release opioids, chemical compounds bound to receptors in the brain that give us feelings of happiness. We don’t necessarily have longings for food, but rather for the pleasure they create. An experiment conducted in 2009 by Professor Adam Drenowski of the University of Washington, Bellingham, showed that people who took naloxone, a common opiate blocker, were less interested in cookies, candies, and sweets than people who didn’t take the drug.

      Research by the Monell Chemical Senses Center shows nearly 100 percent of women have experienced a craving in the past year, as opposed to 70 percent of males. According to Science Daily, women crave sweets and chocolate, whereas men crave savory items. For both sexes, the foods that capture our attention are high in fat or calories—or both.

      What can you do to stop cravings? No method is guaranteed to work for everyone, but here are some suggestions.

      (1) Hydrate. Thirst can be confused with food cravings. When a person becomes dehydrated, the body can send mixed signals about hunger, leading the brain to believe food, not liquids, are needed. Try drinking a tall glass of water and waiting a bit. The craving will subside.

      (2) Plan your meals. Knowing when and where your next meal is will reduce the snacking that can lead to cravings.

      (3) Mint-ify your mouth. Use an absurd amount of toothpaste and brush your teeth for twice your normal cleaning time. When you are done, swish a flavored mouthwash around your mouth. If you have a clean mouth, you won’t want to mess it up!

      (4) Power nap. Cravings consume your thoughts when you are tired. So take a power nap—The Huffington Post recommends 10 to 20 minutes—and then get back to the grind.

      (5) NEVER GO TO THE SUPERMARKET HUNGRY! Honestly,  this should be a rule of life. Chances are you’re going to crave a food after eyeing it at the store, or you will buy an unnecessary amount of groceries.

      If none of the above suggestions works, try eating frozen grapes, dried seaweed, assorted nuts, or, as a substitute for ice cream, sorbet or frozen yogurt.

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