What causes food cravings?
Understanding what causes your food cravings is the first step toward controlling them. Though the exact cause of food cravings is difficult to pinpoint, many doctors and nutritionists alike believe that they develop as a result of a complex medley of biochemical processes and a variety of hormonal and emotional factors.
There are many additional theories as to the causes of food cravings, some of which can be found below:
Lack of nutrients If your body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.
Hormones Women will know all too well that some of the most intense cravings tend to happen close to menstruation or throughout pregnancy. These factors alone are a strong indicator that hormones can influence our food choices.
The blood sugar theory The greatest number of food cravings occur late in the day. It’s a time of day when our blood glucose levels are likely to be low, triggering a high-calorie craving. Having healthy snacks at the ready can stop this food craving cold, before you head to the office vending machine.
Lack of primary food Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of insufficient primary food.
“Our bodies make us crave particular foods and flavours when we are out of balance in some way, whether it is physically, mentally or emotionally”
Ways to Fight Food Craving
Stop Food Cravings Tip #1 | Repeat Your Mantra Mental conditioning is difficult, but it works. Creating a mantra that you can repeat to yourself during times of temptation will eventually sink in and empower you. One well known mantra is: “A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips.”
Stop Food Cravings Tip #2 | Divide your Meals Divide your meals in to two smaller parts and eat them every two hours to keep you from getting hungry.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #3 | Stop eating junk Processed, and fatty foods for as long as you can.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #4 | Reach for fruit Keep fruit handy for when sugar cravings hit. You’ll get fiber and nutrients along with some sweetness. And stock up on foods like nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #5 | Eat slowly It can take up to 20 minutes for your stomach to send the message to your brain that it’s full. If you slow down and savor each bite.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #6 | Keep healthy snacks Like granola power bars, fruit or nuts on you at work or home so when and if cravings do arise, you have your weapon of choice sitting in your hand bag.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #7 | Drink Water Water is essential to life, and part of every chemical reaction in our bodies. Yet so many people are walking around in a semi-dehydrated state. Many times our body mistakes thirst for hunger. We end up eating food, when in reality we needed water.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #8 | Power up with protein Protein helps you sustain energy and feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed all day long.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #9 | Skip artificial sweeteners Eating or drinking something that contains artificial sweetener can actually increase your appetite for sweetness more than something with real sugar, meaning you may end up eating more than you intended. Try turning to 100% fruit juices or honey for a touch of what you crave.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #10 | Chew gum Chewing gum can help reduce cravings. It also helps because you have something to chew on. Chewing a sweet gum like Juicy Fruit can also assuage cravings.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #11 | Distract yourself By doing something fun and interesting,exercise to keep your mind off the matter.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #12 | Ban eating in the desk The car and in front of the TV “Set up a space for eating so these other activities and spaces don’t get conditioned with the food”. Then eat only at the table, using a plate and doing nothing but eating.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #13 | Take Notes Making your subconscious habits conscious to identify in what situations you start to have cravings could be the most important step you take. Writing down the situations when you feel the cravings, or simply doing this as part of your food journal can help stop the food cravings from happening, or directly allow you to address them. The sight, or the smell of food, location, time of day, your emotional state such as if you are stressed, or lack of sleep are just some of the situations that can spark a food craving.
Stop Food Cravings Tip #14 | Delay at least 10 minutes Before you eat so that your action is conscious, not impulsive. Distract yourself by engaging in an activity that requires concentration. Distance yourself from the food. Determine how important it really is for you to eat the craved food and how much you really want it. Decide what amount is reasonable and appropriate, eat it slowly and enjoy!
What things trigger cravings the most for you? How do you combat cravings?