What causes food cravings and how can you control them?
According to studies, 91% of women experience strong food cravings. But what causes it and how can we control them?
Why do we get cravings?
Food cravings often occur to satisfy emotional needs. Like when you’re stressed or anxious, you crave comfort foods loaded with carbs, sugar and fat to boost your serotonin levels, which has a calming effect.
The bad news is that when you reach for food in response to negative feelings such as anger or sadness, you inadvertently create a powerful connection in your brain. Basically, the junk food gets coded into your memory centre as a solution to an unpleasant experience or emotion. So when you face that same problem again, your brain will automatically tell you that you need that junk food.
Other major causes for cravings are:
You’re dehydrated. Dehydration manifests itself as a hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.
You’ve got nutritional deficiencies. If the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, it will send messages in the form of cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, which could lead to cravings for chips or pretzels.
You’re hormonal. Menstruation, pregnancy and menopause cause fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels, which may cause unique cravings.
How do you control cravings?
Don’t let yourself get too hungry
Skipping a meal or not eating when you’re truly hungry, could leave you craving quick-fix foods like chocolate, and lead to overeating. Eating several meals throughout the day may help to control cravings and binge eating.
Trick your taste buds
When your sweet tooth starts demanding sugar, trick it with a sweet-tasting alternative like Herbex Attack the Fat Mix ‘n Drink. Not only does it taste great, it’ll help your body burn calories, break down fat and control your appetite.
Deal with the cause
Often what you’re actually craving is to feel better. So identify your emotion – bored, anxious, angry – and find an activity that releases it. If you’re stressed, putting the nervous energy into a workout can help, or if you’re upset over a problem at work, call a friend and ask for advice.
Stay in control
If you do give into a craving, don’t just say ‘screw it’. Have only portion-controlled amounts of the food you crave at hand to ensure that you only eat one slice of cake and not the whole one, or a small packet of chips and not a family-sized one.
Don’t miss out on Part 2 next week, where we’ll give you some great practical tips on how to control your cravings this Easter!