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Weight Management Achieved by Controlling and Not Suppressing Food Cravings

According to a new calorie-restriction study, accepting food cravings and keeping them in check may be an important component of weight management.

The first six-month phase of the study provides new insights into food cravings, specific types of foods craved, and their role in weight control.

Cravings are really normal; almost everyone has them, says corresponding author Susan Roberts, PhD, director of the USDA HNRCAs Energy Metabolism Laboratory. At the start of the study, 91 percent of the participants reported having food cravings, which are defined as an intense desire to eat a specific food.

Most people feel guilty about having food cravings but the results of this study indicate that they are so normal that nobody needs to feel they are unusual in this respect, says Roberts.

In addition, the results indicate that cravings dont go away during dieting.

In fact, 94 percent of the study participants reported cravings after six months of dieting. Participants who lost a greater percentage of body weight gave in to their cravings less frequently. Allowing yourself to have the foods you crave, but doing so less frequently may be one of the most important keys to successful weight control, Roberts said.

Roberts and colleagues observed that successful weight loss was related not only to how often people gave in to their cravings, but also to the types of foods they craved.

Participants with a higher percentage of weight loss actually craved foods with higher energy (calorie) density, compared with those who lost a lower percentage of body weight, said Roberts, who is also a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

Energy-dense foods, such as chocolate and some salty snacks, are those that pack the most calories per unit of volume, as compared to less energy-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, which have fe
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