• Deanne Pandey

Keeping Food Cravings in check

Food cravings are a major roadblock for people trying to maintain a healthy weight or switch to a more healthful diet. Let’s face it, all of us have had this overpowering urge for our favourite food at surprising hours of the day. They may not be desirable but we all experience it every now and then. A food craving is an intense desire for a specific food. This desire can seem uncontrollable, and the person's hunger may not be satisfied until they get that particular food. Food cravings are caused by the regions of the brain that are responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward. But that’s not it. There are many causes as to why we crave certain food items.

Causes of food cravings

Most people would equate cravings with hunger. It turns out that’s not quite the case. “Hunger is an input to the brain’s craving system; it can amplify the craving system. But the brain’s craving system works a little separate from the hunger system. The brain’s reward system is really the brain’s craving system. Food cravings have been linked to both physiological and psychological triggers, including nutrient deficiencies, lack of sleep, PMS, emotional status and stress, and even the sight or smell of food.

An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, can also 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, especially if a person eats for comfort. 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.

Combating cravings isn’t an easy task. Resisting seems to only increase the desire to tear into a chocolate bar or to rationalise with self-talk and grab a chocolate flavoured protein bar at the gym check-in counter. Cravings can easily wreck any healthy-eating resolutions, and eventually any long-term weight-loss goals, but it is possible to keep them in check. Instead of fighting them, accept food cravings as a normal part of everyday living. We are surrounded by food. We can’t always control our environment, but we can control how we react to that environment. Here’s how-

Reducing food cravings

1. Battling stress

Stress and emotional eating can influence a variety of health issues. Feeling stressed may promote emotional eating and cravings for comfort foods. Thus, it is best to keep those cortisol levels low.

2. Hydrate yourself more often

Water is usually the answer to all health and beauty related issues. Hunger and thirst can produce very similar sensations in the mind, causing it to become confused. One of the easiest ways to reduce food cravings is to make sure the body is hydrated throughout the day.

3. Increase your protein intake

Study shows that a high protein diet helps in reducing desires for nighttime snacks upto 50%. Thus increasing the protein content in your diet will help you reduce strong food cravings.

4. Controlled cravings

For some people, completely avoiding the food they crave may make these cravings worse. This can lead to overeating or feeling miserable without that food. In this case, it may be better to satisfy the cravings with a small, portion-controlled treat.

5. Try chewing gum

Chewing a gum helps in reducing food cravings as it keeps your mouth busy and reduces both sweet and salty cravings. Chewing gum often makes you less hungry, have fewer cravings for snacks, and feel fuller.

6. Opt for foods that help curb cravings

Replace your cravings with foods that help you curb them. Foods like Radish, Chickpeas, peas, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower help curb untimely food cravings and are also easily available.

The table below will guide about the same.

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