Prevention (Australia) - - Nutrition Know-How -

Crav­ings can eas­ily be trig­gered with­out you even know­ing, of­ten by events that push an emo­tional but­ton or it could just be habit. Th­ese are the times we need to re­think our per­cep­tion of food and why we want to eat it: See­ing a tear­jerker

Watch­ing a sad film can in­crease the urge for snack­ing – in one study from the Univer­sity of Cor­nell sad films led par­tic­i­pants to eat 36 per cent more pop­corn than happy films.


Re­search at Bos­ton Univer­sity has found that most peo­ple feel less hun­gry at 8am in the morn­ing than they do at 8pm in the evening. To avoid a snack after din­ner, have a cup of tea then clean your teeth. Your friends

Hav­ing a cup of tea and a bickie (or three) with your friends can in­flu­ence your con­sump­tion, with you eat­ing more even when you are at home later. Ac­cord­ing to the re­search that was done by the Univer­sity of Min­nesota, the op­po­site sce­nario also in­flu­ences what you con­sume – if your friends eat less, you will do the same as well. So if your pals break out the sweets, check in with your­self and ask, “Do I re­ally want to eat this?”

Eat­ing in front of screens

Eat­ing lunch when dis­tracted by com­puter ac­tiv­i­ties leads to more snack­ing later, shows re­search by the Univer­sity of Bristol. An­other good rea­son to switch off phones and TVs at din­ner time and eat more mind­fully.


This food-feel-good con­nec­tion isn’t hap­pen­stance as the stud­ies show, but it’s not just med­i­cal re­searchers who are check­ing the sci­ence – food man­u­fac­tur­ers are con­stantly on the look-out for ways to in­crease our de­sire for cer­tain foods.

Sugar, salt and fat are the in­gre­di­ents high on the craving list. “We are hard­wired and driven to de­sire en­ergy-rich foods, high in sugar, salt and fat be­cause in the past, they in­di­cated good nu­tri­tion, which of­fered bet­ter pro­tec­tion in case of famine,” says Pro­fes­sor Amanda Salis, se­nior re­search fel­low from Syd­ney Univer­sity’s Bo­den In­sti­tute of Obe­sity, Nu­tri­tion, Ex­er­cise and Eat­ing Dis­or­ders.

Put all three of th­ese together, and you cre­ate foods with even more pulling power in the su­per­mar­ket aisle or take­away shop. In the re­cent study by Yale Univer­sity, the re­searchers found that when fat and car­bo­hy­drates are com­bined in a sin­gle food they are more re­ward­ing, kilo­joule for kilo­joule, than foods with ei­ther en­ergy source alone.

Fatty foods, like cheese, trig­ger one path­way to re­ward cen­ters in the brain while carb-loaded foods like bread or po­ta­toes take an­other route. When the two flavours are com­bined, which is the essence of many snack foods, the brain lights up like a pin­ball ma­chine.

What makes this find­ing in­ter­est­ing, says Dana Small, pro­fes­sor of psy­chi­a­try at Yale and se­nior au­thor of the pa­per, is that foods high in fat and car­bo­hy­drate do not ex­ist in na­ture with only

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