Ever get a sudden urge to eat something and all you can do is think about it? It’s an insatiable hunger that cannot be abated by celery or carrot sticks. It’s gotta be chocolate… or chips… or a burger… and you’ve gotta have it NOW!?!
“Why do I get cravings?”
Fact is researchers are still trying to work that one out! Scientists have recognised that it is a different sensation to hunger, but cannot pinpoint the true cause. The body is able to regulate hunger but cravings can be relentless! Cravings may be triggered by a memory, emotions, a habit or even a slight deficiency.
We do know that sugary and fatty foods are linked to pleasure. They release chemicals known as ‘opioids’ into the bloodstream that bind to receptors in our brain that signal ‘pleasure’. People feel much better after they have their ‘hit’, a bit like a drug addiction for those who struggle with emotional or binge eating. The ‘euphoria’ that follows is hard to resist.
WHAT IS YOUR TRIGGER?
· Did you hear someone talking about pizza for dinner?
· Did you smell warm cinnamon donuts and coffee as you passed a café?
· Did you see a TV add for a chocolate bar on the television?
· Do you buy a packet of chips from the servo every time you get petrol? Cue: habit
Start to get in touch with true hunger, signalled by a belly growl and grumble, rather than a habit or an environmental trigger. Most of the questions above are linked to ‘false hunger’ prompted by a sensation. Something you saw, heard or smelt.
How can I control my cravings?
· Have a drink of water, often thirst is confused for ‘hunger’
· It’s a great idea to ‘make a date’ with your favourite/indulgent food once a week. When it is less of a daily treat it becomes more of special event and you will learn to savour it more!
· Have a little of something you truly want; because we all know after you devour the fruit bowl you’ll probably still have the chocolate bar anyway!
· Get busy – are you thinking about food because you are bored?
· Refuel after you exercise. A sweet or sugary craving could be linked to not replenishing your glycogen stores adequately after training.
· Get a good nights sleep. If you need a pick me up at around 3pm every day, perhaps you aren’t getting enough rest.
· Eat well balanced meals. If you are cutting out carbs or fat (critical macronutrients) you are probably going to want carbs and fat! If you are skipping meals, you are going to want calorie dense foods to fill the gap.
Whatever your craving is, recognise it and take action. If you decide to surrender to your craving, eat it slowly and savour it. Sometimes a small bite is enough to satisfy the desire.
Until next time. Eat well… Be well.