We’ve all experienced a food craving – that intense desire to fill your plate with a specific type of unhealthy food. You won’t even be hungry, because food cravings are driven by our brains not our stomachs, but all of a sudden you are consumed with a food craving for a particular type of food… and you’re not sure you can get through the day without giving in.
So why do we get food cravings?
Studies have shown that people usually crave chocolates and sweets, but some people find themselves with a hunger for a particular type of fast food, or a need for carbs. So why don’t our bodies suddenly feel the need for an apple or a serving of veg?
Food cravings are a pretty unknown and unexplained area, but it is generally thought that the brain is the culprit with either low serotonin levels or a slow release of endorphins to blame. This means that when foods with a high level of sugar interact with the opioid system in the brain, an additive effect is triggered by “happy hormones” being released every time glucose is present. Because of the lack of sugar and glucose found in healthy food, our brains don’t often crave it in the same way.
What do my food cravings mean?
Cravings are thrown up by your brain, not your body. The biggest reasons for food cravings are needing to be happy or needing energy – in order to combat boredom and unhappiness your body will need endorphins, and to fill up on energy you will require carbohydrates.
Although very unlikely, some people do think that your craving signifies a particular need for that food within the body:
– A sweet craving could be to do with needing a rest, as chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, which helps the body to release endorphins. Endorphins help us to feel relaxed and lower stress levels, so this craving has been linked to rest and relaxation.
– A craving for salt or salty food could mean that your body is dehydrated, as water retention is increased by salt.
– A craving for carbohydrates, especially in the afternoon, can mean that your blood sugar has dipped and you are experiencing a crash in energy.
How can I avoid a food craving?
Making sure your brain and body are satisfied is a good way to stay one step ahead of food cravings.
Exercise and sleep help with the release of endorphins, so heading to the gym and getting a good nights sleep should stave off the need for food to make you happy.
Drinking more water and keeping your body fully hydrated should keep both hunger and cravings at bay. Try eating foods with a high water content, such as cucumber, courgette, watermelon and celery.
Stopping your body from having an energy crash will keep cravings at the door. Fill up on slow release energy fuel at breakfast, such as Ultra Fine Scottish Oats, and make sure you have sensible snacking options through the day, such as walnuts and sunflower seeds.
What do I do if I get a food craving?
There are a few ways to help you get you over a food craving:
MIND OVER MATTER
Because the craving has come from your brain, becoming stronger in your mind should help you to overcome a craving easily. Just like a smoker who is trying to quit, power through and let the craving slip to the back of your mind. Try to remember that you don’t really want or need the pizza/chocolate bar – it’s just your brain playing tricks!
Be aware of your moods and how you are feeling, as if you know you are likely to be bored, stressed or sad you can prepare yourself with fruit, honey, protein bars, dried coconut and BULK POWDERS™ Complete Protein Dessert™ to get a healthy sweet kick. Replace carbohydrates with cashew nuts and peanuts.
SUPPLEMENTS TO HELP REDUCE APPETITE
Supplements to reduce appetite can help keep the food cravings at bay. Take a look at our top 6 recommendations.
If all else fails, head to the gym. Distracting yourself via exercise or playing sport is a great way to shift your focus and forget about food. Exercise also releases endorphins, so cravings should disappear completely after a workout. But if a craving happens when you can’t get active, just busy your brain with something else. Think of things that make you happy – for example plan how you are going to spend your weekend – or try counting or breathing exercises.
How do you manage food cravings?
Do you suffer from food cravings? If so, get in touch via Facebook or Twitter and tell us what you crave, when you crave it and whether you give in!
If you have a great technique to keep cravings at bay, why not get in touch and share it with our social followers?