Follow the RAS method to manage your food cravings in a healthier way

Follow the RAS method to manage your food cravings in a healthier way

Food cravings are a very common phenomenon. More than 90% of affected people struggle with it. All people have specific needs. But these are normally transient and often focus on processed food products high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats. Research reveals that men are more likely to succumb to salty foods, while women are more prone to sweet and fatty products.

Cravings can lead to the consumption of foods with adverse health effects and can jeopardize the pursuit of a balanced diet. In her book “The Gentle Method for Better Eating”, nutritionist and dietician Sophie Janvier shares her method for controlling these cravings: the RAS (Breathe, Wait, Enjoy) method.

RAS method:

Desire cannot be felt forever, it will inevitably end up “precipitating like a wave”. When the urge to eat appears, the specialist recommends focusing first on your breathing for a few minutes. As you close your eyes, take a deep breath and imagine the wave rising and falling inevitably. Then exhale. Repeat this operation for five minutes and then observe how you feel.

The second action provided by this method is wait. According to a dietitian/nutritionist, after five minutes of breathing, cravings have already diminished. After ten minutes, at least one in two people will give up the snack. The professional recommends waiting and evaluating yourself: ask yourself, for example, the reason for this desire, the elements that probably caused it. This way, you can identify triggers and be less afraid of them next time.

Finally, the letter S in the RAS formula stands for “Savor”. This simply means that if the need is still there after 10 minutes, it should be considered. If, despite efforts to breathe and reflect, the need persists, then it is completely justified. For professionals, after completing the two previous exercises, we will be able to snack in healthier conditions.

What are the factors that affect appetite?

Common food craving triggers can be influenced by physical, mental and behavioral factors.

Physical factor:

Blood sugar, dopamine, and physiological responses tend to play a large role in food cravings. Highly palatable foods, especially those high in added sugars, trigger the release of dopamine and reward systems in the brain, which generally encourage food consumption beyond our energy needs. This excessive consumption, especially of added sugars, can then lead to a reduced ability to distinguish between true hunger and cravings.

mental:

Emotions can have a huge impact on our diet. Fear, stress, anxiety, joy, pleasure and boredom are common feelings that can affect our eating habits. One study showed that emotions, particularly negative emotions, were associated with a greater tendency to use food as a coping mechanism. This causes more intense feelings of hunger.

Short periods of positive stress (like exercise) can naturally reduce our appetite. However, chronic or acute emotional stress in people who have a habit of eating as a coping mechanism can lead to overeating. Especially when it comes to energy-dense foods. Emotional eaters in particular have been shown to consume more sugary and fatty foods during times of acute stress.

Behaviour:

Some evoke feelings of nostalgia. Whether it’s the smell of your grandmother baking or the sound of your favorite childhood cartoon, these triggers can lead to intense cravings for specific foods. In some cases, these cravings may simply be a reaction to a new environment or situation. For example, you may crave comfort foods when you’re homesick or stressed. However, in other cases, food cravings can be a sign that something is missing from your diet.

For example, if you constantly crave sweets, this could be a sign that you are not getting enough carbohydrates. Likewise, if you crave salty snacks, this may be a sign that you need more sodium in your diet. In any case, it is important to listen to your body and address any basic nutritional deficiencies. This is the only way to break the cycle of nostalgic tastes.

* Presse Santé strives to convey knowledge about health in a language accessible to all. IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES can the information provided replace the advice of a medical professional.
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