Our bodies see fat as the fuel for survival: it is the richest source of energy, with more than twice the energy per gram than any other nutrient. Alcohol is the only other substance that comes close. It is this biological respect for fat that makes it so hard for people to defeat fat cravings; we have a basic instinct to eat fat.
Most Americans have crossed wires when it comes to fats. Because of bulging waistlines, most battle with fat-phobia and fat-craving. The human body is programmed to crave fats; without essential fats and fatty nutrients, animals and humans cease to thrive. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats from flaxseed and cold-water fish were found to be essential for human health by physiologists in the 1930s.
Scientists are suggesting that a brain protein called galanin is triggered in greater amounts when we eat fat. They also suggest that galanin levels are increased when we go without eating for a period of time. Galanin is a neuropeptide that causes us to eat or crave fat. This may explain why, when eating a pack of cookies, a significant proportion of consumers have great difficulty stopping at just one cookie. It also offers an explanation as to why, when we are hungry, we are likely to crave fat.
The first step to controlling emotional hunger is to identify whether you are hungering for food or simply emotional satisfaction. You can do this by keeping a food journal. Write down for one week what you eat, the time you eat and the amount and quality of the food you eat. As you write each entry, note down how you are feeling emotionally. Then review the week and identify when you ate food that related to how you felt emotionally at that time.
Foods high in dietary fiber such as bran cereals and wholemeal breads are suggested as ideal tools for dampening a fat craving.
There is an emerging link between stress and people's desire to eat fatty foods. People under pressure often tend to reach for the fatty foods – they are "comfort foods". In order to combat this we need to manage our stress levels better and practice pausing before reacting to stress triggers.
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