If you are trying to eat healthily, you are probably aware of how much food cravings can work against this. One minute you are having a protein shake, and the next you are in line at the pizza joint.
And eating like this can only work in hurting your healthy eating efforts. The problem comes in when you do not understand what cravings are, how they come about and what you can do about them.
The good thing is that you can rely on some teas to fight these cravings. We will look into what teas you can drink, and whether they can work for you.
Will tea solve your food cravings?
Most people need appetite suppressants because they cannot control their urge to eat. Well, this urge, otherwise known as appetite suppressants, comes about owing to several factors.
It could be that you have conditioned your body to crave foods at certain times. It can also be that you work in an environment that fuels this craving.
When you understand what causes the urge, you are one step closer to beating it. But that is what most people do not understand, and they go straight for appetite suppressants.
Sure, teas can bring down your appetite, but will they resolve the underlying causes? The answer is no. They can only take the place of a snack. For example, if you tend to snack in the evening, you can choose tea as a substitute.
That would allow you to consume fewer calories, but would not break the habit. Can you see this? Thus, tea acts as a secondary solution by not addressing the problem. And in the future, this can work against you.
So let’s look further into food cravings before getting into which teas can work.
Causes of food cravings
If you were to ask someone what they crave, they might have a few items in mind. These range from sugary to fatty foods, most of which may not be good for them. Unfortunately, fighting these urges is often hard, given that satisfying them is so easy.
Take an example of where you crave cookies. How hard would it be for you to buy or bake some? Studies show that more than half of the population experiences food cravings annually.
So the good news is that you are not alone. The bad news is that these urges could be your undoing if you keep giving in to them.
It is important to note that while cravings are real, they often stem from the head. The parts of the brain that handle memory and pleasure contribute significantly to these cravings.
You can likely close your eyes and feel your tastebuds aching for a given food. Maybe it is the chocolate cake you had at a party last week. Or the plate of fries you left in the fridge.
You can blame the insula, caudate and hippocampus for this urge. These associate some foods with rewards. They know how good you feel after having that chocolate cake, and they thus fuel this urge.
The good news is that you can block these receptors and therefore learn how to avoid eating unhealthy foods.
Some people eat out of anxiety and high stress levels. You will find that you are more likely to give in to these urges when you are feeling anxious or stressed. It could be that you have a big workload at work.
You may find yourself munching on cookies and drinking hot chocolate to deal with this added stress. Why is that? Well, eating carbs boosts serotonin levels, and this makes you feel calmer and cope better with a situation. It gets even better when you combine fat and sugar as this reduces stress-related hormones.
It also comes down to what you often eat. Of late, there have been many diets which exclude one food or the other. While they work in helping people lose weight, they can have some adverse effects. One of these is cravings.
Take an example of people who go gluten-free in the name of losing weight, rather than health concerns. They may see bread, cookies and other wheat products and feel like indulging. So that urge may owe to your body lacking something.
Appetite suppressant teas
Now that you understand why you may be having urges, how can you deal with it? Well, one of the tips lies in making lower caloric choices. And given that most teas contain negligible amounts of calories, this would be a great choice. Here are some options:
1. Green Tea
This tea is popular across the globe owing to its high level of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Of its many benefits, the ability to suppress appetite in consumers stands out.
A significant factor in this effect is its impact on peptide hormones, namely norepinephrine and dopamine. When this happens, you end up having fewer cravings for food.
This effect owes to the presence of ECGC in green tea. It inhibits the breakdown of the enzyme which acts on the hormones listed above.
Additionally, the tea increases CCK levels, a hormone which acts in guiding the brain on satiety. You end up feeling full for longer periods. Other benefits include increased metabolism, warding off diseases such as diabetes and anti-ageing effects.
2. Peppermint Tea
This tea comes from the leaves of the peppermint plant and has many uses in the body. These include aiding digestion and alleviating pain and anxiety.
Research also shows that this tea can be beneficial in suppressing appetite, thus aiding weight loss. The funny thing is that the effect has more to do with the scent rather than the consumption of the tea.
You see, scent travels through the nostrils to the brain and can make you feel full even when you are not. When your brain takes in a satiety-inducing scent, the hormones that suppress appetite go to work.
Also, your sense of smell directly impacts your taste such that you end up eating less. Have you ever noticed that the person in charge of meals often eats less? It owes to the taking in of scents throughout the cooking process. By the end, they feel full, even though they are yet to take a bite.
While research is ongoing on this effect, many people have come forward, stating that this tea worked wonders for them.
One such study by Wheeling Jesuit University took place involving participants who inhaled peppermint scent every two hours. These were less hungry and consumed up to 1800 calories less than their usual intake. It might be worth a try.
3. Hibiscus Tea
This tea can aid in weight loss by limiting hunger. Plus, it is sweet yet has fewer calories compared to most sugary drinks. One cup will give you about 37 calories, without the adverse effects common in most sweetened beverages.
It has also been shown to inhibit the action of chemicals that store carbohydrates. It also boosts metabolism to a given extent. As such, it can reduce weight gain owing to fat deposits.
While this tea can aid in weight loss, it also has some side effects which consumers should consider. One, mixing it with meds is not a good idea, more so if you have high blood pressure.
Pregnant and lactating women should avoid it, as well as anyone taking anti-cancer and anti-viral meds. Given that it can have an intoxicating effect, you should avoid drinking it before going to work.
4. Chocolate Tea
Have you come across this tea? It is common among people following diets owing to its low calories and rich taste. While many people think that it is a byproduct of dieting practices, this tea originates from South America.
Most of its variations involve mixing roasted cacao shells with black tea. This combination gives the tea a chocolate taste but lacks the calories you would expect in cocoa.
The taste should be mild and pleasant and can keep those hunger pangs at bay. Adding sugar and milk would take away from its low caloric content and would fuel other cravings.
5. Oolong Tea
This tea comes from the camellia sinensis plant, as is the case with green tea. The difference comes in regarding the processing that the teas undergo. Oolong is a blend of green and black tea such that it undergoes oxidization processes that fall between these two drinks.
This drink is not common and accounts for less than 2% of the teas in the world. However, that is not an indication of its nutritional profile. If anything, it boasts of polyphenols, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Also, it is low in caffeine and calories, making it a great choice of beverage. Plus, it has been shown to ward off diseases such as diabetes and some cancers. And it can aid in stress management.
The weight loss benefits accrued from this tea owe to the presence of teasaponin, which inhibits the absorption of fat from food. This compound also reduces inflammation and suppresses appetite.
6. Chaga Tea
While this tea may not be common, it does not lack in appetite suppressant properties. Many people think that it comes from a mushroom, but rather, it is a fungus that grows on birch trees.
It features a subtle and pleasant taste and is rich in antioxidants and enzymes. If you need a tea that will keep cravings at bay, this could work.
7. Ginger Tea
With this tea, you can look forward to reduced appetite as well as increased metabolism. You can thus lose weight, so long as you keep up with other weight loss practices such as exercising and eating right. You can also opt to use the root in cooking, rather than drinking it.
Dealing with food cravings
You can use teas to lower your cravings and caloric intake. But that will not work forever as this is a secondary solution. What works is understanding why, how and when you eat.
For one, cutting out some foods from your diet will not necessarily work. You see, some people can have a bar of chocolate without reaching for another. Others will have one bar and get two more, giving in to their cravings each time. The latter group may figure that by cutting out chocolate, they can suppress their appetite.
The problem with this is that you do not exercise control over the urge. The day you let your diet slip is the day you probably end up eating ten bars at once. Instead of going cold turkey, you can learn how to control your portions. Buy one bar and restrict yourself to that. Over time, it will be easier to fight the urges.
Next, you have to watch your environment. Unfortunately, the world today is full of unhealthy foods which are easily accessible and affordable. While you cannot escape this world, you can control some external factors.
For example, when you go out to have a bite, you can choose a restaurant with healthy options. If you go to a burgers and fries place, you will likely have junk food.
Being hungry is not an option if you want to keep your hunger pangs at bay. Eat when you feel hungry. The hungrier you get, the more likely you are to reach for unhealthy foods.
And when you do this, you will probably consume more than the restricted amount you have in place. Instead of getting to this point, you should eat small meals throughout the day.
Finally, you should keep a journal where you document your food cravings. That will allow you to gauge how much you eat and observe any worrying patterns. You might find that you eat because you are anxious.
Tea might suppress your appetite for a while, but it is not the solution. Understanding your urges is the only way out.