What do your cravings feel like? Like you’re out of control? Like nothing else will cut it? Do they actually feel hungry? Sometimes what we think is hunger is really just our body needing a release from a negative feeling. According to studies, eating sugar, salt, or fat encourages the body to release dopamine, a feel-good hormone. This reaction is what makes certain foods and beverages pleasant, but it also makes you want more.
It’s fine to give in to these desires every now and again, but if you’re having trouble controlling your appetite for unhealthy foods, it’s time to find some healthy alternatives by checking our Health Inspection Investigations. You can stay on track to meet your health and fitness goals by figuring out what you actually want and selecting healthy foods that please you.
But before sharing How you satisfy your food craving, let’s talk about- What is Food craving? And Where does the food habit come from?
What is Food Craving?
To comprehend cravings, you must first grasp how they vary from actual physical hunger. True hunger usually develops over several hours following your last meal (assuming it was a well-balanced meal of adequate size). Physical manifestations include a growling stomach and irritation. True hunger, on the other hand, is characterized by its lack of specificity. True hunger can be quenched by almost any food. Cravings, on the other hand, usually strike quickly and are focused on a specific food.
Have you ever felt compelled to eat chocolate (or nachos, or French fries, or gummy worms, or any other highly appealing food) all of a sudden? That’s a strong desire you’ve got there.
Where Does the Food Habit Come From?
It’s helpful to understand where food cravings originate if you want to stop them. Cravings can strike without warning and for no apparent reason. However, in my work as a nutritionist, I’ve noticed a few distinct patterns that enhance the risk of cravings:
When we eat to meet emotional needs rather than bodily ones, we are said to be emotional eaters. According to studies, highly appetizing foods can cause dopamine (the “happy hormone”) to be released, making particular foods seem calming whether you’re stressed, anxious, lonely, bored, angry, or depressed.
Sometimes when people are in a bad mood, they usually crave chocolate or French fries, not broccoli. Cravings for food can be influenced by conditioning as well. Do you always get Milk Duds at the movies, or do you treat yourself to a beer at the end of the day? Food cravings could be the result of associations you’ve formed over time.
Let’s say you’ve been doing this for a while and now you’re trying to avoid the movie candy or the end-of-day beer. So, what goes down? I’m sure you think about candy and beer a lot. You’ve created a craving—even if you’re not hungry, you’re fixated on a specific food or drink. If you’re a lady, you may be wondering about the role of hormones in food cravings. Interestingly, a recent study has challenged the long-held belief that PMS causes food cravings.
You may be wondering about the function of hormones in food cravings if you’re a woman. A recent study, however, has cast doubt on the long-held belief that PMS is linked to food cravings.
A total of 275 women from various cultural backgrounds were polled as part of the study. Foreign-born women were much less likely to report chocolate cravings before their periods compared to women born to American parents and second-generation immigrants.
Furthermore, the study found that premenstrual chocolate cravings were associated with a stronger connection to American culture and less connection to their native cultures among foreign-born women and second-generation immigrants.
What exactly does that imply?
It means there’s some evidence that premenstrual cravings are a cultural construct—that we’ve been socialized to seek tasty things before our periods. In fact, most cultures lack a specific word that translates to “craving,” according to the study’s authors.
So, now that we know what causes cravings, what should we do about them?
- Deal with any flaws
If you have frequent, strong cravings for certain meals, it’s possible that your body is trying to compensate for a nutritional deficiency. For example, chocolate cravings are thought to be caused by a magnesium shortage, whereas sugar cravings are thought to be caused by a chromium deficiency in the diet. Zinc can also help you control your appetite by keeping your levels healthy. To correct any dietary deficits, make sure you’re consuming a wide variety of nutritional meals.
- Take a bite of whatever you like:
Have you ever noticed that the harder you attempted to ignore your urges, the worse they became? According to a study published in the journal Appetite, many people crave the foods they must try to avoid. Rather than going cold turkey on your junk food addiction, allowing yourself a small amount of what you want can assist to lessen the temptation to binge on your favorite foods. You might try the 80/20 rule, which entails eating properly for 80% of the time and being less stringent for the other 20%.
- Become more active and Consider healthier options.
Whether your cravings are caused by hunger, boredom, or a lack of ambition, going for a run or going to the gym may help you resist giving in. Exercise is not only a terrific way to distract yourself from your hunger, but it also helps to suppress your appetite, according to a study led by a researcher at Loughborough University. Furthermore, getting active will make you feel better about your physique, and you wouldn’t want to undo all of your hard work with a junk food binge, right?
Just because you’ve made the decision to eat healthier doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a snack now and then. Instead of giving in to your junk food cravings, consider healthy options like frozen yoghurt or sorbet in place of ice cream, seasoned popcorn in place of crisps, and sweet potato wedges in place of fries.
- Give yourself a happiness boost and Relax
According to research, eating carbohydrates like pasta, bread, and potatoes boost the synthesis of the “happy hormone” serotonin in the brain. This could explain why, when we’re feeling depressed, many of us seek these “comfort” foods. To reduce your desires, try finding healthier alternatives to enhance your serotonin levels, such as meeting up with a friend, watching a comedy movie, exercising, or inhaling uplifting essential oils like neroli or lemon.
Stress can be a potent trigger for cravings, just as it can be a great trigger for comfort eating when we’re feeling low.
According to research from the University of Cincinnati, sodium in salt blocks the body’s stress chemicals, implying that salt cravings maybe your body’s attempt to cope with stress. To resist these urges, try to avoid stressful situations as much as possible and incorporate relaxation into your daily routine. When stress strikes, find a healthier way to deal with it, such as working out, meditating, or talking it out with a friend.
- Start a day with mindful eating:
You won’t be able to eliminate eating cravings completely, but you can train yourself to give in less frequently.
Mindful eating is the most effective approach to accomplish this. Mindfully eating is paying attention to your body’s physical and psychological signs before and after meals and snacks.
Take a moment to check in with yourself when you have a strong desire to eat (particularly if it comes on suddenly). Any physical indicators of hunger, such as weariness or a growling stomach, should be taken seriously.
Also, consider your mental state. How’s it going for you today? Do you have a positive outlook on life, or do you have a negative view? For example, if you’re not hungry but aren’t in a good mood, think about non-food solutions that can help you feel better. This may be going for a stroll, phoning a friend, journaling, meditating, or performing a random act of kindness. Whatever makes you happy!
And if you’re really hungry, go ahead and eat! The goal is to eliminate food cravings rather than to restrict the diet unduly.
Food cravings can be a tricky deal to handle. Fortunately, the simple healthy options in this article can satisfy your food cravings and serve as heart-healthy additions to your lifestyle.