By Anjana V
A food craving is an intense desire for a specific food. some people have intense food cravings for sugar. However, salty foods, chocolate, junk food are also common food cravings.
What could be the causes for Food cravings?
An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can cause food cravings .It is also possible that food cravings are due to endorphins that are released into the body after someone has eaten, which mirrors an addiction.
Emotions may also be involved in producing a food craving.
Pregnant women experience especially strong cravings, which may be due to hormonal changes that can disrupt their taste and smell receptors.
There is also the possibility of a connection between the cravings and nutrients. This is the idea that the body craves certain foods because it lacks certain nutrients. However, this might not be true in all cases.
Nutritionist’s Role in controlling food cravings
It’s not easy to know how to stop food cravings, especially to sugary and salty foods. Nutritionists need to help individuals understand the reasons for the cravings and suggest practical solutions about ways to deal with these cravings.
Most people suffer food cravings and as a result tend to binge eat a particular food hence leading to obesity and related disorders. These need to be tackled and corrected immediately.
Being aware of your cravings and their triggers makes them much easier to avoid. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthy and lose weight. Although, sudden craving for one type of food is as natural as hunger and eating, craving does not really signal hunger.
Here are a few ways that could help you deal with your food cravings:
Staying Hydrated: Very often, thirst and dehydration are mistaken for hunger and one tends to give in to cravings and binge eat. Staying hydrated throughout the day can help to a great extent. If one does not feel like drinking plain water, they can opt for infused water, or fresh fruit/fruit juices without added sugar.
Avoid excess consumption of sugary foods: Leptin is a Hormone that pumps up your appetite. Excessive consumption of sugary and processed foods can trigger leptin productions. Avoiding processed and refined items can also help curb cravings.
Right amount of exercise and rest: Exercise may boost your serotonin levels—something that should help you skip sugar and extra carbs more easily.
Distance yourself from the craving: When you feel a craving, try to distance yourself from it. For example, you can take a brisk walk or a shower to shift your mind onto something else.
A change in thought and environment may help stop the craving. Some studies have also shown that chewing gum can help reduce appetite and cravings.
Plan your meals: If possible, try to plan your meals for the day or upcoming week. By already knowing what you’re going to eat, you eliminate the factor of spontaneity and uncertainty.
If you don’t have to think about what to eat at the following meal, you will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.
Avoid getting extremely hungry: Hunger is one of the biggest reasons why we experience cravings. To avoid getting extremely hungry, it may be a good idea to eat regularly and have healthy snacks close at hand.
By being prepared, and avoiding long periods of hunger, you may be able to prevent the craving from showing up at all.
Fight stress: Stress may induce food cravings and influence eating behaviors, especially for women. Women under stress have been shown to eat significantly more calories and experience more cravings than non-stressed women.
Furthermore, stress raises your blood levels of cortisol, a hormone that can make you gain weight, especially in the belly area.
Try to minimize stress in your environment by planning ahead, meditating and generally slowing down.
Practice mindful eating: Mindful eating is about practicing mindfulness, a type of meditation, in relation to foods and eating. It teaches you to develop awareness of your eating habits, emotions, hunger, cravings and physical sensations.
Mindful eating teaches you to distinguish between cravings and actual physical hunger. It helps you choose your response, instead of acting thoughtlessly or impulsively.
Eating mindfully involves being present while you eat, slowing down and chewing thoroughly.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is very necessary for the body to function efficiently. Less sleep might increase stress levels thereby increasing cravings. So that beauty sleep helps a lot.
Our appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day. Sleep deprivation disrupts the fluctuations, and may lead to poor appetite regulation and strong cravings.
So that beauty sleep helps a lot.
The next time you have cravings, you know what to do!