MAY 2019
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


Caving in to cravings – emotions and overeating!



Craving is intense desire for a particular food, it is uncontrollable and the hunger does not go away until you get that specific food. Hunger produces physical sensations, like rumbling stomach, weakness, lightheadedness, all caused by body’s need for food. It can be satisfied by any food but cravings can be curbed only with specific food. Food cravings are quite common, 100% adult women and 70% men have reported having the one food craving during the past year and 85% of the people give in to food craving at least half the time.

Blame it on the brain. Cravings reside in the pleasure centers of the brain. Hedonic foods (high in fat/high in sugar) release pleasure chemicals in the brain inducing feelings of pleasure and even mild (and temporary) euphoria – much like a drug. In 2004, researchers at the US department of Energy’s Brookhaven Laboratory found that brain metabolism increases 24% or more when food stimuli (mere display of food, smelling and tasting favorite foods without actually eating them) are presented to a hungry person. Increases of metabolism in the right orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region that controls drive and pleasure, also correlate strongly with self-reports of craving for foods. Food cravings are a stumbling block for people trying to lose or maintain weight. Restrictive diets and fad diets can lead to food cravings.

Game of brain chemicals!

Endorphins: they are responsible for feelings of pleasure after a hearty fat, sweet, creamy meal. Moderate exercise can increase the production of endorphins. Eating scrumptious foods increases endorphins, leading us to want to eat more.

Dopamine and norepinephrine: Responsible for mental function, alertness and positive mood. They play an important role in triggering desire for carbohydrate intake.

Neuropeptide: It is responsible for high-intensity carbohydrate rich food. Costisol, a stress hormone produced in the adrenal gland, increases the production of neuropeptides.

Galanin: It increases fat and carbohydrate intake. Research indicates a direct relationship between rising glalanin levels and desire to eat fatty foods like fried food, ice cream, etc. During dieting and fasting, galanin production increases.

Serotonin: High levels curb cravings, promote positive feelings, reduce anxiety, improves pain tolerance and promotes restful sleep. Negative mood states can trigger people to eat carbohydrate rich foods, which increases levels of tryptophan. Tryptophan, once it reaches brain, increases synthesis of serotonin, results in feelings of well-being and relaxation.

Curb the cravings

Take alternate route like go for a walk, aerobic exercise, drink water, do yoga, distract yourself by answering text messages or email, avoid social media since its filled with appealing images of food.

Find low fat/low sugar healthy substitutes, dark chocolate with nuts, mochi (Japanese ice cream). Instead of ice cream, go for frozen yogurt. Instead of cheesy taco, substitute avocado or nutritional yeast for cheese.

Try aromatherapy, an investigative study with college age women in Australia showed that smell of jasmine lessened the craving for chocolate!

Find foods with similar texture or flavor to satisfy your craving. Date and almond butter are a great substitute for carbohydrate cravings. Sweet fruit can curb craving for sweet desserts.

Have a small portion of your craved food every day, don’t put it on the counter, and keep it in a place that is hard to reach so you have to make an effort to get to your favorite food.

Mantra moment – Get enough sleep and reduce stress!

Flourless fusion crepes


Wash and soak the rice, flattened rice, dals overnight, change water 3-4 times. Put these ingredients in blender with yogurt, ginger and green chillies, salt and oil. Blend until the batter is smooth. Let the batter ferment at room temperature for about 3 hours. Heat 1 tbsp oil and sauté shredded carrots, mung beans with salt for 5 -7 minutes and add paneer, garam masala and 2 tbsp hot green chillies, sauté for 5 minutes. Heat a griddle, add a ladle full of lentil batter and spread it thin, add some oil on the top, let it cook on one side thoroughly. It takes about 3-4 minutes and flip it over, cook for another 3-4 minutes. Then flip it over and then add paneer mixture to one side and cover it with other half crepe. Serve hot with ketchup or green chutney.

To Our Health!

Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at [email protected].

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