Food cravings are extremely common and they can for many people be one of the biggest challenges when it comes to our diets. Strong urges for certain foods can be extremely difficult to resist and these cravings are actually more than just a sign of hunger. Having a restrictive diet is not likely to help in the long-term with cravings either so understanding them and finding a curb for them is probably a better solution.
Everybody views cravings differently, some people believe that the foods we crave contain certain nutrients that our bodies are lacking so they believe that food cravings are expressions of our bodily wisdom. But others believe that cravings are more about what the brain wants rather than what the body actually needs. A healthy and balanced diet can lessen the possibility of experiencing food cravings but that isn’t the only factor at play. I find food cravings interesting to explore and I also experience them like anybody else (I am a real foodie at heart), so I have done my research and have come up with a sort of guide to help you to decode your food cravings. I’ve researched some of the most common food cravings and found lots of information that will help you to understand the craving and ways in which may help to control it. I have tried to write it in a simple and easy way where you can find the craving you usually experience from the title and then read the information below. I hope that you find the below information useful for your own individual needs and it helps you to curb those pesky cravings.
Why You’re Craving? – If you have cravings for carbs (things like bread and pasta) then it might be the body’s way of trying to cheer itself up. Carbs increase the level of our brains Amino Acid Tryptophan which is needed to produce the ‘feel-good’ chemical Serotonin. You will also most likely crave carbohydrates when you are tired, this is because Glucose which we gain from carbs is our brain and body’s preferred way to quickly be able to turn it into energy…and that could be the reason why people tend to reach for carb heavy foods when they are feeling tired or sluggish. But what people forget is that when we eat alot of refined carbs it actually can lead to a blood-sugar crash which ironically makes tiredness worse.
How To Curb The Craving – If you eat meals and snacks that contain protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates then together they can help to balance your blood-sugar levels out which will also give you a balanced level of energy too. Opt for more complex and wholegrain carbs over the white refined version, protein rich food (eggs, seeds and nuts, salmon, lean meat, oats), and root vegetables (swede, sweet potato, carrots.)
Why You’re Craving? – Craving fatty foods can be triggered from fatigue, emotions or just before your period. If you have lack of sleep it leaves you with a lack of energy, because food gives us energy then it can be easy to mix up fatigue for hunger. Emotional triggers can also cause cravings of fatty foods as it sets off your reward centre in the brain which will make you feel as though your satisfied and full. Hormones could also play a part to your fatty food craving, for example; just before your period you have an increased body temperature from your hormones and you need more energy.
How To Curb The Craving – Look for good sources of healthy fats. Things like; oily fish, avocados, eggs, dark chocolate, olive oil, nuts and seeds etc… These will help to support your brains cognitive health, circulation and nervous system.
Why You’re Craving? – All of our bodies need Sodium it’s an extremely important part of our diet and it helps to keep our fluids balances. Although people can have sodium deficiencies, in the western world over-consumption is more common. But it’s useful to remember that some medications and dehydration from sweating, diarrhoea or sickness can lower sodium levels and if your sodium levels are low cravings for salty foods is quite common. Stress plays a part in salt cravings too. When you have chronic stress your adrenal glands (which control your body’s stress response) pump out high levels of Cortisol (which is known as the stress hormone) this can lead to a condition called ‘Adrenal Fatigue.’ Having that can cause low blood pressure and you may crave the salty food to bring it back up again.
How To Curb The Craving – Deep breathing exercises or taking a break to meditate before you grab that salty snack could help to bring down your stress hormones which may curb the craving. Other stress management techniques would work too. You could do abit of research into supplementing with adrenal restoratives as they might help also. Try to drink 2.5 litres of water a day to ensure that you are well hydrated aswell.
Why You’re Craving? – Alot of people believe that sugar has some addictive properties. There have been studies done that show similarities between the consumption of added sugars and drug-like effects (like; dependence, bingeing and reward and release of opioids in the body. If you crave sugar you may be lacking in an essential mineral called Chromium, which supports healthy blood-sugar balance and reduces cravings. Again you can also crave sugar when your tired and that’s when alot of people do crave it or you might just simply be over consuming simple sugars… the more you eat, the more you tend to want.
How To Curb The Craving – Upping your protein intake can help to reduce your sugar cravings, adding protein to the first meal of the day is particularly helpful and some people say it helps to make your breakfast like a typical meal instead of just a cereal-based breakfast (an idea could be having smoked salmon and eggs.) If your looking for a substitution for a sugary treat then try two squares of dark chocolate (70% or more is perfect) this may help to curb your craving.
Why You’re Craving? – One of the most common nutrient deficiencies is Iron deficiency and most people who suffer from this have increase cravings for red meant. Craving red meat could also be a sign that you have low levels of Amino Acids and B12.
How To Curb The Craving – It’s worth going to your GP to rectify any iron deficiencies you may have but in the meantime try to eat organic, grass-fed meat if you can. This is because there has been research that it contains a higher level of anti-inflammatory Omega 3 Fatty Acids. If your looking for vegetarian sources of iron then foods like; dried fruit (figs, prunes, apricots), legumes, beans and green veg are also all good sources. Vitamin C is known to support the absorption of iron so include vitamin C rich veg and fruit into your diet too. Iron and B12 supplements are also available but I would recommend seeking GP advice before taking these to ensure that you won’t be getting too much.