Have you ever found yourself having a strong urge to eat a particular food?
Most times, the feeling gets so irresistible that you have to “by all means possible” get that food into your mouth. Well, that is you craving for a particular food.
Beyond a mere preference for particular foods, or an impulse to buy certain snacks, food craving is an insistent desire for a type of food (e.g. candy, pizza, and ice-cream) which we often go the extra mile to satisfy. While this does not seem like a problem now for the average person, it becomes a big problem on the long run. For those on a calorie-controlled diet or those struggling with a weight problem, cravings for high-sugar or high fat foods is especially distracting to them.
When the cravings become a habit, it is often very difficult to stop. Therefore, there is need to deal with those cravings now before they become a problem. To effectively solve your food craving challenge, you will need to read this article to the end. Stay tuned!
• CAUSES OF FOOD CRAVINGS✓
Medical doctors and dietitians believe for a fact that food craving is caused by a combination of emotional, hormonal and biochemical factors. Blood sugar imbalance is seen as the foundation for most cravings, but emotional and hormonal factors are also contributory factors. However, allergy can be responsible for a small number of cravings – we crave the very food to which we are allergic. One certain fact though is that most of our cravings tend to be for less healthy high-sugar or high-fat foods.
- Emotional Causes
When it comes to emotional or psychological causes of food cravings, the most common causes are listed as stress, depression, boredom and a general need for comfort. In some cases, these cravings can lead to binge eating and other types of eating disorders. You are advised to seek help from your doctor if your yearning for certain foods are causing episodes of uncontrolled bingeing.
This factor is common to women rather than men (who typically are less affected by hormone imbalance), knowing that the strongest food cravings in women occur in the week prior to menstruation, or during pregnancy. This suggests that hormonal swings have an influence on this type of urge to eat.
- Low Blood Sugar (Blood Glucose)
This is a major cause for food cravings in men and women. This is typically caused by lack of food as a result of going too long between meals/snacks, or following very low calorie diets.
- Blood Sugar Imbalance
Blood sugar imbalance has been an underlying factor in people with cravings, especially regular dieters. This means that their blood sugar levels fluctuate too much because as a result of eating the wrong type of carbohydrate.
Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause cravings, water retention, excessive thirst and mood swings.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR FOOD CRAVINGS
Know that there is no all-round remedy for controlling cravings. Most of these urges to eat can be reduced by stabilizing your blood sugar levels. However, these tips below can be very helpful in achieving reduction in food craving.
• Eating At Regular Intervals During The Day✓
Skipping of meals (eg. breakfast) or going too long without eating, will reduce your blood sugar levels, which is a perfect recipe for food cravings, overeating and even binges.
Allowing 3-4 hours between meals/snacks is a sensible maximum for women, although 3 hours is better. Men typically can safely wait 4-5 hours. And you don’t need to eat much: even a single oat-cake can be enough between meals to keep eating urges at bay.
As well as maintaining stable blood glucose levels, regular eating helps your metabolism to burn calories at an efficient rate.
Finally, it’s been proven that regular eating helps to reduce cravings associated with Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).
• Too Much Added Sugar or Salt Can Make Cravings Worse✓
If healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and beans seem too bland to you, chances are your diet includes too many additives, like sugar or salt. Processed or refined foods like canned soup, cereal, candy, sweets, cakes, cookies, ice cream, and soda are the biggest culprits of these.
It will be quite helpful to reduce your intake of these foods. A high intake of them can aggravate cravings. At the same time, do not add extra sugar or salt to the food on your plate.
• Reduce Your Intake of Drinks That Act As Stimulants✓
From research, stimulants like sugar and caffeine in tea/coffee, caffeinated soft drinks can cause fluctuations in blood sugar. Therefore, they should be avoided or at least consumed in moderation. Turn to herbal teas, spring water and diluted pure fruit juices instead.
• Do Not Reduce Your Calorie Intake Below A Safe Level✓
Maintaining a safe level of Calorie intake is quite helpful. Taking a diet containing lower than 800 calories a day must be done under proper medical supervision. Weight loss diets with fewer than 1000 calories are not recommended and even those with 1100 calories should only be followed for a short period of time (e.g. 14-days). A minimum of 1200 calories should be a standard for you when you want to lose weight, and choose nutrient-dense foods (with high nutritional content) rather than empty-calorie foods/drinks (e.g. candy, ice-cream, regular sodas, alcohol).
Managing cravings especially if you’re feeling low is rather difficult to do. You need all the support you can get from other people as you try to manage these cravings. As a form of recommendation, find a community of like-minded people, or family that gives you the entire support you require.