Everyone known how difficult is to control food cravings. Some have strong mind and will power to control food cravings and are strict about what they eat. For many even if they try they give up as they cannot take control on food cravings “only if I had stronger mind” is the thinking often comes to the mind. There are ways to control food cravings without much efforts and high discipline.
Food craving is an intense desire to have specific food. It can be carbohydrate, protein, fat, salt, junk food, sugar or any type of food and the desire to have that particular food is uncontrollable. A person’s hunger does not satisfy until they get that food! Before proceeding how to control food cravings let us understand why we crave for food. Well, we all need food to live and survive but why we crave for food? Is it the taste, hunger, to pass time or what it is?
Reasons for food cravings:
Studies long back showed that food cravings are caused by brain regions that are responsible for pleasure, reward and memory. Emotions especially sadness, let down feeling produce food craving as it results in eating comfort foods! Sleep deprivation is another reason for food cravings. People who does not sleep well eat nearly 300 more calories than those who get good sleep!
Imbalance in three hormones leptin, ghrelin, dopamine and serotonin can cause food cravings. Leptin when low stops us eating. Ghrelin causes hunger for no reasons and is obesity hormone. Dopamine and serotonin regulate our happiness and mood levels. These two are responsible for our emotionally crave foods. Another hormone namely endorphins also responsible for this desire. After a person’s meal when endorphin releases inside the system it causes addiction.
Another reason for food craving is poor gut health. Gut health is shaped by bacteria. When the unwanted bacteria or bad bacteria predominates gut, it results in food craving! Bad bacteria demand brain for certain types of foods to be alive and they thrive on sugar, carbohydrates, high salt and processed types of food.
Food cravings are of two types: Selective cravings for specific foods like ice cream, French fries, chocolates, chips etc. Non-selective is desiring to eat anything due to real hunger, thirst or due to hunger pangs.
How to reduce food cravings?
Get good sleep: Sleeping less disturbs the timings and releases more of ghrelin than leptin. This change in hormone makes a person feel less full. Get good amount of sleep. Plan on sleeping on time and get good rest.
Don’t eat around the clock: Means eating through out the day, eating snacks after meals, eating dessert is not good for hormonal balance and gut health. Hormones will not be able to perform signaling function. Bad bacteria residing in the gut will send wrong signals to brain to feed them more
Overcoming stress and sadness: When we go through stress we look for comfort foods. Instead of eating food, look for activities that makes you happy and it is the best way to deal with stress.
Eat when you are hungry: Do not under eat. Eat when you are hungry. If not, hunger pangs can make you carve for calorie dense foods.
Give attention to gut health: Avoid types of foods that has negative effect on gut health. High sugar, sodium, salt, fried items, food additives, artificial preservatives, artificial sweeteners can cause problem to gut. Unless it is necessary don’t take antibiotics as too much antibiotics destroy gut flora. Include probiotics and prebiotics in your food.
Prebiotic foods: Garlic, flax seeds, green bananas, sea weed, coconut, sweet potatoes, cabbage, dandelion greens, onion, artichoke, asparagus etc.
Probiotic foods: Yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, kombucha etc.
Replace craving foods with good food: Instead of eating high sugar and salty items, try dry fruits, nuts, dark chocolate (instead of milk chocolate), water instead of soda, green tea instead of heavily caffeinated drinks. You might find more healthy and interesting alternative foods for comfort foods.
Food cravings at certain time of life like when someone gets pregnant or malnutrition is common. Food craving due to unhealthy life style is not an excuse. Aversion to quit an unhealthy habit can be very overwhelming. To overcome weakness on food craving understand why you crave for food. It helps you to reduce weight and obesity and overcome food cravings.
Image credit: Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash
Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: October 20, 2021