Understanding Food Cravings

Cravings are something we all deal with, and it’s fascinating how deep the meaning goes for why we crave certain things.

There are a few main reasons for cravings: hormones, emotions, and nutrient deficiency.

Hormones:  generally an imbalance with hormones like serotonin or leptin can cause us to have food cravings.

Emotions:  have you noticed when you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or feeling down the first thing you want to reach for is junk food?  This is where the term “comfort food” comes from — using food for emotional reasons.  I’d even say this is the most significant cause of cravings out of all three.

Nutrient deficiency:  another reason for cravings could be a lack of nutrients within your body, causing the craving to “crave” what you’re lacking nutritionally.

It’s all fascinating, and it’s all something we deal with on a daily basis.  Our hormones and emotions are always at work, so understanding the root of the cravings you have and helpful ways to deal with them can be a game changer.

So tell me in the comments, what craving do you struggle with most frequently?


Types of Cravings & How To Satisfy Each One

 One thing we can do is swap unhealthy cravings for healthier options — which is actually very easy to do!

Here are the most common cravings and how you can replace them:

Salty and crunchy

When you feel the desire for a salty snack, instead of reaching for potato chips, try nuts like cashews, almonds, or walnuts. Keep the portions small though. And if you want to snack guilt-free, go for air-popped popcorn sprinkled with your favourite herbs. It’s so simple and quick.

Chocolate

Choose dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa/cacao. These are very easy to find in any store now, so take a trip down the chocolate aisle and find a good quality, organic dark chocolate to enjoy. It’s full of magnesium too, and since many people are deficient in this mineral, it could explain why you crave it!

Sweets

Sugar cravings are probably the most common of all.  Luckily nature gave us lots of healthy sweet options, so try a piece of fruit or fruit salad which just happen to be loaded with fibre in whole food form. Always keep dried fruits (sulphur free) around too for a quick snack when your sweet tooth strikes.  These are great to carry in your bag, so you always have something available when the craving strikes.

Fizzy Drinks

Fizzy drinks can be hard to ditch if you’ve been drinking it for years, so easing out of the habit with soda water or sparkling water is a great option.  Choose flavoured sparkling water with no sugar, or better yet, naturally flavour your soda water, and you’ll be able to satisfy that desire for carbonation without all the sugar and chemicals that fizzy drinks brings to the table.

Look for healthier ways to manage your cravings, and you’ll find that healthier versions can taste just as good, if not better!


Practical Ways to Ditch The Cravings

Cravings likely aren’t going anywhere, so learning some helpful tools to combat cravings when they strike will leave you equipped to handle them as they come.  Some of these tips I’ll be sharing will be immediate tips you can implement, and some are lifestyle changes that you can begin to be more mindful of in hopes of seeing a decrease in cravings overall.  I can’t wait to hear which one works best for you!

  1. Hydration is key

You’d be amazed by the improvements you feel when you’re properly hydrated.  If you aren’t already, aim to drink 1.5-2 litres of water each day to maintain hydration.  When you’re dehydrated, your body can mistakenly think it’s hungry when really it’s just needing water.  Cravings and overeating come in to play here when dehydration is in the equation.

  1. Get to the root of your cravings

When you feel a craving strike, sit with those feelings and take note of where they’re stemming from.  Are you feeling bored?  Is something bringing you down emotionally?  Are you overwhelmed?  If you can stop and take note when you feel a craving come on, you’ll begin to notice what your primary triggers are.  Knowing your triggers will help you to understand when a craving may come on before it even happens, and you’ll be able to stop them in their tracks.

  1. Eat more often throughout the day

Making sure you don’t work up too much of an appetite can help you stay away from cravings.  So make sure you pack a healthy snack to keep your blood sugar stabilised throughout the day so you can keep those cravings at bay.

  1. Get enough sleep

When you’re sleep deprived, your body’s systems aren’t getting the fuel they need to operate at optimum levels.  Aim for getting at minimum 6-7 hours per night, if you already aren’t.  If you’re already getting this minimum amount, try to get an extra 30 minutes to an hour and see how you feel with the extra sleep in your system.  You’ll make wiser choices when your brain is sharp after a good night of sleep, and you’ll feel better in general, which is a win.

  1. Keep the foods you crave out of sight

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “out of sight, out of mind” — and we’re going to use those wise words here, too.  If there are certain foods you tend to crave more than others, try keeping them out of your kitchen.  That way, when a late-night craving strikes, you can’t just mosey into the kitchen and grab your favourite bag of chips.  If it would require you to hop in the car and drive to the store for your craving, you’ll be much more likely to pass the craving by.


Other Ways to Ditch The Cravings

As we’re nearing the end, I wanted to share 5 more tips with you on reducing cravings.

Let go of the stress

I know, it can be tough, and we can’t eradicate it completely.  But I guarantee some things in your life cause you stress that you have the power to improve.  Letting go of as many stressors are possible will reap far more benefits than merely lowering cravings, too!

Do something else

It’s said that cravings typically last only 3-5 minutes.  When you feel a craving come on, get up and do something else.  Distract yourself by going for a walk, catching up on some housework, calling your best friend, or diving into a hobby.  Before you know it, you’ll have forgotten about that nagging craving.

Chew Gum

Pick out some sugar-free gum from your favourite health food store and pop it in your mouth next time you feel a craving come on.  The act of chewing can subside your craving almost instantly.

Swap smartly

Lastly, if that craving is too intense and none of these tips are working, simply swap smartly.  We previously talked about healthier options to common cravings, so use your smart swap list and enjoy yourself.  You’ll be surprised how much the healthy version still satisfies the craving!


Healthy Snack Ideas to Curb Your Cravings

I hope you enjoyed this learning all about cravings and how to handle them.  Please check out some of the healthy recipes that I have here on the blog so satisfy those cravings with a smart swap.  Thank you!

 

Posted by Evolved Nutrition and Naturopathy

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