How to keep those food cravings in check this summer

With cookouts, county fairs and trips for ice cream with the kids, summertime can be a minefield if you’re trying not to overindulge on unhealthy treats.

One expert has some tips on fighting those cravings for fattening foods.

“I really think with weight management that it’s 10% nutrition and 90% psychological. We know what we should eat, what we need to eat, but then the brain is so all-powerful and it takes over,” said Catherine Fore, a dietitian at Shady Grove Medical Center who specializes in medical and surgical weight management.

Many people lose all control around certain foods. “That’s how I was with Cadbury eggs at Easter,” Fore said, adding, “Maybe there are some things that just can’t come into the house.”

People often eat the wrong foods because they want a reward, a comfort or a stress-reliever, said Fore.

“With the stress, I really encourage with patients trying to be mindful of what’s going on … recognizing that stressful time and using breathing exercises [and] meditation to help put a pause on what their behavior — their reaction to that stress — might be.”

If you find yourself reaching for an unhealthy snack between meals, Fore said you might actually be dehydrated. Lack of sleep may be a factor, too.

“With computers, televisions, even undiagnosed sleep apnea, I think the quality of our sleep is decreasing, and that can impact our food choices during the day,” she said.

To get eating habits under control, Fore has a suggestion.

“I find this is not everyone’s favorite thing to do, but food journals are just essential to bringing a mindfulness and awareness to what’s going on, and being aware of a routine, a pattern. So I encourage with everyone that they do keep food journals, whether it’s pen and paper, or apps for their smartphone.”

Fore uses meal replacement shakes a lot with patients, which she said really help with food cravings.

She also urges patients to do what many of us may find difficult: slow down at mealtimes and focus on what she calls “the art” of food: “sitting down to the table with no distractions, no electronics, no devices, no television … on a nice place setting in a calm environment.”

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