Do you get cravings for a certain kind of food or food that tastes a certain way?
Have you ever thought of just having one potato chip just to satiate your craving but end up guzzling the entire bag?
Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most, if not all of us, have had food cravings before and it definitely isn’t a sign of weakness.
However, craving food such as cereal, grain and sugar could point to food addiction. Symptoms of food addiction include headaches, difficulty sleeping, irritability, mood swings and depression.
For people with food addiction, these symptoms are temporarily alleviated by eating the foods they crave.
Low Serotonin Levels
Some people with food cravings could have neurochemical and hormonal imbalances. Serotonin is a neurochemical that keeps you feeling good and happy while regulating functions such as appetite, memory and sleep.
Some who are serotonin-deficient may rely on satiating their cravings to increase their serotonin levels but it could get quite unhealthy after a while.
Instead of eating junk food to raise serotonin levels, try identifying and eliminating suspected food allergens such as gluten and milk products, and avoiding alcohol, caffeine, and cigarettes.
Additionally, try getting one to two hours of sunlight and an hour of moderate exercise a day. Ensure that you get enough sleep every night as well.
Want vs Need
Is this craving a want or need? Our bodies may crave food due to low blood sugar or low fat intake.
If it is a need, instead of reaching for that candy bar, have a pot of yogurt or a slice of fruit to bring your blood sugar levels back to normal.
If you had chosen to eat a candy bar instead, the simple sugars in it will definitely increase your blood sugar levels but as fast as your sugar levels increase, it will drop quickly as well.
This is known as sugar crash and it could cause fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches, disorientation and irritability.
Our emotions can also influence our food cravings.
Feeling stressed, anxious, or even lonely can trigger cravings and certain foods could remind us of how good it made us feel in the past.
Moreover, the smell and sight of food could also trigger cravings such as how walking past a bakery could make you stop to look in the window and see what they have to offer.
Defence Against Cravings
After you’ve discerned that you’re not actually hungry, here’re a few ways to help fight off those pesky cravings:
- Brush your teeth and/or gargle with an antiseptic mouthwash because nothing tastes good after a good brushing or gargle.
- If you feel a craving coming on, wait 45 minutes to an hour before stuffing your face. If you still want whatever you’re craving after that hour, have only a quarter of whatever you wanted to have.
- Relax by meditating.
- Look for healthier alternatives. Substitute ice cream with frozen yogurt or sorbet and instead of potato chips, have baked tortilla chips!
- Put on your running shoes and go for a walk or run. Conversely, if running outdoors doesn’t interest you, doing simple exercises like sit ups or push ups will suffice.
- Drink water and stay hydrated throughout the day because hunger could actually signal thirst.
What’s most important is not to be too upset when you cave and eat your favourite snack.
Keep in mind that as long as 80% of your diet is healthy, you can have a little wiggle room with the other 20%.
Remember that for most healthy people, anything is alright as long as it’s in moderation!