Can’t stop thinking about pizza and ice cream all day long or is it chocolate and red velvet cheesecake? Whatever it is, a lot of people who sincerely want to lose weight complain that they cannot stop thinking about food. Daily stressors, boredom are just some factors that can make you turn towards food to find temporary comfort and cope with the stress. However, the continuous preoccupation with unhealthy food can throw you off your weight loss diet and lead to overeating and weight gain. Intrusive thoughts about food can make it extremely difficult for you to concentrate on any other activity and it’s not entirely about will power to fight off these cravings. On a weight loss diet, you need to be in calorie deficit, but if food is always on your mind, let’s find out ways to stop thinking about food so much, and instead you gain control over cravings and respect the body’s natural cues for hunger, instead of mindless eating, which is not a good thing either for weight loss or for overall health.
Always Thinking About Food – What’s Happening?
1. You are falling into Emotional Eating: Stress eating or emotional eating is a situation where one eats to feel good and pleasant, to cope up with trauma, to relieve stress, rather than to satisfy hunger. The food that emotional eaters choose are usually high-fat, high sugar, calorie-rich food full of transfat and other toxic ingredients, extremely unhealthy for the human body. When someone depends on food to cope with certain situations or to relieve stress, preoccupation with food takes over that person’s life and before he/she realizes, and they would end being obese with a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Food with high sugar, sodium, transfat content have a direct impact on the brain. When you eat such food, your brain rewards you by releasing “feel-good chemicals” such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These feel-good chemicals makes one feel happy by elevating mood, and calming down nerves. Such type of food may cause sharp insulin spikes that provide instant energy but the subsequent drop in blood sugar level is just as steep, causing fatigue and lack of energy, making you crave for “unhealthy food” all over again. You start to depend more and more on such unhealthy food to deal with jittery nerves. In short, people resort to emotional eating to feel better, relieve stress, and cope up with traumatic situations.
2. Leptin/Ghrelin Imbalance: Leptin is the satiety or fullness hormone that sends signal to the brain that you are “full” after having adequate energy through food. Leptin and ghrelin hormones work in balance where ghrelin levels rise only when there is a need to replenish energy and once that has been done, leptin signals that there are optimum amount of calories in the body. When leptin malfunctions, it fails to send signal to the brain at the correct time and as a result, you tend to overeat, accumulating calories, leading to calorie surplus, most of which is converted into fat and stored in the body.
3. Hyperpalatable Foods: These are mostly unhealthy food that are high in calories, have unhealthy fat, sugar, and salt. These foods physiologically stimulate ghrelin even after enough calories have been reached. The flavours in hyperpalatable foods trigger the release of endorphins and dopamine, pushing you to reach out for such kind of unhealthy food all over again, similar to drug addiction. Regular consumption of fast food, junk food, all of which come under hyperpalatable foods numb out the leptin balance and you would be unable to reach satiety even after eating large quantities of food. We are particularly talking about sugary foods, which activate the pleasure centers of the brain, creating sharp insulin spikes, and triggering conversion of excess calories into fat molecules.
14 Ways to Stop Thinking About Food So Much:
1. Spend some “me” time: It’s good to get distracted when food thoughts dominate your mind. When you know that food cravings are as a result of boredom, find activities that can help you channel the energy into something productive. Use the distraction to your advantage, groom yourself, apply a face pack, paint your nails or just read a book. After a few minutes, the food thoughts would stop bothering you.
2. Meal Prep and Create a Meal Schedule: This is an effective way to train your brain and avoid unnecessary food thoughts. Check out the weight loss diet programs on the Rati Beauty app where you can find diets that would help you meal prep, create a calorie deficit, and get you to a lighter version of yourself. Make a list of what meals you would eat throughout the week and include snacks as well by jotting down what you are gonna eat through the week, snacks included.
3. Eat Balanced Meals: Every meal is a new opportunity to eat healthy. Having a balanced meal with enough complex, protein, fiber, and healthy fats would keep the hunger hormone in check and prevent unnecessary food cravings.
4. Clean up the House: Studies have found a strong link between messy environment and increased stress where the outcome is to seek comfort in unhealthy food. Cleaning activities such as dusting, organizing, cleaning dishes would not only help take your mind off food, it would also help burn calories, improving blood circulation as well.
5. Declutter your Phone’s Storage: Here’s a task that can get your mind occupied – declutter your phone’s storage, delete apps that you no longer need, clear photos and videos that are eating the phone’s memory, and by the end of it, your phone and mind both will be better organized.
6. Do not Watch Cookery Shows or Cooking Videos: Watching cooking videos and cookery shows can actually lead to weight gain, studies say so. Watching social media feed with cooking videos makes food appealing and your mind immediately creates a desire to eat that food. When you are already preoccupied with food thoughts, watching cookery shows and social media feed with cooking videos will only add more fuel to the fire.
7. Exercise Regularly: When you exercise, the brain releases endorphins which is a chemical that makes you feel good, relieves stress, and burns calories, helping you lose weight as well. When food thoughts strike, pick short exercise routines from the Rati Beauty app that trigger the release of “feel-good chemicals” in the brain.
8. Sleep for 7 to 8 Hours: A good night’s sleep is all it takes to lower the hunger hormone ghrelin and stress hormone cortisol – both of these can trigger unnecessary food cravings throughout the day. Most importantly, good-quality sleep is essential to activate fat-burning enzymes. When you sleep well, you wake with less stress and more energy to motor through the day without any food distractions.
9. No Crash Dieting Please: Needless to mention, following unhealthy diet practices such as crash dieting can create havoc on the mind and body. When you deprive yourself of food, the preoccupation with food becomes stronger. Follow healthy diet programs on the Rati Beauty app to lose weight successfully without going into food deprivation.
10. Drink at Least 2 Liters of Water: People often confuse thirst signals with hunger, and turn to food to quench thirst! Also, most often they turn to unhealthy food. Sipping on water at regular intervals through the day can help suppress unnecessary food cravings and thoughts.
11. Eat Adequate Protein: When you increase protein intake, food cravings and food-related thoughts will decrease by a great degree. Protein is an essential nutrient because it repairs cellular damage, burns more calories, and is thermogenic in nature too. Read about “15 Food Sources of Lean Protein that Can Help with Weight Loss.”
12. Avoid transfat, high sugar, high calorie food and include lots of vegetables and whole grains in your diet.
13. Have Cheat Meal once a Week: Cheat meals are not only important to reset metabolism, satisfy cravings, prevent binge eating, but also to take your mind of food that you cannot stop thinking about. Do follow these 10 Cheat Meal Rules for Weight Loss.
14. Go for a Walk: If nothing else works, going for a 15-minute walk would help sort your thoughts, improve mood, reduce stress, and would increase attention and decision making, more so about food thoughts.