You love chocolate cake, pizza, and [insert virtually any other comfort food here]. But why is it that when you’re dieting, these foods look even better than they did before?
There are countless explanations, some scientific and others practical, of why this is the case. In this article, we’ll explore:
- the science behind why food looks better when dieting,
- practical reasons why food looks better to dieters
- 5 strategies to avoid temptation.
The science behind why food looks better when dieting
There are two hormones known to control hunger: leptin and ghrelin. Fat cells release leptin, also known as the “starvation hormone,” which reduces appetite. Stomach tissue releases ghrelin, which increases hunger. The balance between the two is what regulates appetite, and stabilizes weight, in most people.
But Professor Kazuyoshi Ukena of Hiroshima University recently discovered NPGL, a molecule that increases appetite during fasting and decreases it at mealtimes. Found in the same brain regions that affect appetite and energy use, NPGL is key to weight regulation.
Other studies conducted by Professor Ukena reveal that high-fat diets, especially over long periods of time, lead to leptin insensitivity. Thus, a high-fat diet can undo NPGL’s weight regulation qualities. And the more fat you consume, the more difficult it is to overcome cravings for high-fat foods.
So, while the body is equipped with hormones to keep your appetite and weight in check, it can only do so much to regulate itself. If you consistently eat foods that are high in fat, these high-fat foods will continue to become more and more attractive.
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Practical reasons why food looks better to dieters
While there are scientific explanations of why high-fat foods are more difficult to resist when you’re on a diet, there are also practical reasons why this holds true.
The primary reason why food looks better to dieters is the deprivation mindset that comes with traditional dieting. Many dieters become fixated on what they cannot eat and assume that they can’t treat themselves every once in a while if they want to achieve their dream body. But this isn’t the case!
The more you restrict your diet, the more attractive that chocolate cake or other treat is going to look. Typically, this leads to overeating when you do indulge.
Another issue with food and dieting is that most dieters assume that healthy food is bland. Thus, they stop trying fun recipes or looking for new, creative ways to consume vegetables. As a result, they get bored with their food. By keeping your meals interesting and seeking out ways to make the foods you need more delicious – especially with herbs and spices – you won’t get so easily tempted by the high-fat foods you used to enjoy.
And, obviously, the more time you spend looking at unhealthy foods, the more tempted you’ll be to eat them. If you get coffee every morning and typically pick up a donut, it will be hard to say no. If you live with people who regularly eat unhealthy foods, it’s going to be difficult to stay motivated to eat healthily when you’re surrounded by all the foods you used to eat and love.
Regardless of how or where temptations creep into your life, they’re perfectly natural, both scientifically and behaviorally. Luckily, there are strategies you can follow to ensure you don’t fall victim to cravings.
5 strategies to prevent diet temptations
You’re going to have temptations when you make the lifestyle switch to healthier eating. Therefore, you’re going to need strategies to help you overcome these temptations and stay on track.
Here are 5 of our favorites to get you started:
- Drink more water – often, food cravings can be eliminated with water. If you feel tempted by something, reach for a large glass of water instead. For most, water can at the very least reduce appetite, so always reach for it, instead of food, when you first feel hungry!
- Fill up on protein – studies show that eating more protein can reduce food temptations and cravings, and help you feel full and satisfied for a longer period of time. In fact, studies of teenagers reveal that protein at breakfast reduces cravings and, for men, increasing protein intake can reduce calories consumed and other issues, such as snacking at night.
- Don’t let too much time pass between meals – hunger makes food temptations worse. Always eat at regular times and keep healthy snacks close. More importantly, always eat meals packed with the key nutrients you need so you aren’t hungry shortly after you’ve eaten. Doing this may help you avoid food temptations altogether.
- Combat stress – stress typically increases food temptations, especially for women, which can lead to more intense cravings. By planning ahead, taking time out of your day for yourself or for meditation, and slowing down, you can combat stress to avoid these temptations altogether.
- Sleep more – while more sleep won’t help you avoid a tempting food in the moment, it will help regulate the hormones that cause the temptations in the first place! Studies reveal that those who are sleep-deprived are more likely to become obese. Adequate sleep allows the body to better regulate hormones and cravings, as we discussed above under the science of food temptations.
The food may be tempting, but you know better
Temptation abounds, especially on a diet. However, your body is designed to regulate your weight. And, though practical and scientific reasons can interfere with your ability to lose weight and stay on track, there are plenty of healthy strategies you can use to ensure you don’t fall victim to these traps.
You may also want to take a comprehensive weight loss supplement as you make the transition to a healthier lifestyle. PhenQ suppresses appetite until your body is restored to its natural balance, and it can even boost weight loss, increase energy, and otherwise support your commitment to weight loss.
No matter how you look at it, your lifestyle transition is going to come with challenges. Be ready to confront yours with PhenQ and the strategies above and you’ll soon have the body you always wanted!