A recent study in theJournal of Consumer Research found that participants who savored a rich chocolate truffle later had stronger cravings for more high fat and sweet foods than those who did not eat a truffle. The study’s authors linked tasting decadent foods to the urge to eat more of them. So then, is a taste as harmless as we all think?
Since I am always seeking an evolutionary explanation for behaviors, I explained the findings like this: Perhaps when our ancestors came across something calorie-dense, the ones that had cravings and went back for more ended up with higher nutrient levels and fat stores and therefore higher rates of survival compared to those who did not experience cravings. Natural selection at its most indulgent! It’s too bad the pendulum has swung so far to the obese side in modern times that having fat stores is no longer advantageous to survival.
When I reflect on my own eating habits, this claim that a bite leads to more bites does seem to ring true. I have always said that I’d rather eat the whole dessert than have to stop at one bite because the hardest part of eating is stopping eating! Often it is easier for me to just say “no thanks” than it is to put down my spoon after one bite. I break the dessert barrier with one bite, so I might as well have more. With one taste, the gates open and the floods come out and I can’t hold back on a second or third and the next thing you know the whole dessert is gone.
Does this mean we should never have one bite of a dessert? Absolutely not! You just might want to be better mentally prepared for cravings that may follow. Think about a craving like any other emotion – it comes and goes and really doesn’t change reality. You don’t have to act on it right away. Just like you might want to simmer down before you confront someone you are angry with, let your cravings relax and sink in some before you react. They might just go away in the meantime.
Remember this: only YOU are in charge of your actions. As powerful as cravings may seem, no one – not even the little devil on your shoulder or your sweet well-intending mother – is forcing you to eat. You must come to terms with the control you have over the relationship between your emotions and your actions. Be your own cheerleader, and be proud of the decisions you make.What are some things that you guys crave? And how to you keep from going overboard?