Food cravings are those intense, and sometimes irresistible urges you have to eat especially a particular food. When there is a craving, a person usually feels the desire for a specific food or taste. For example, foods high in sugar or other carbohydrates commonly cause cravings in many people and these cravings can be difficult to control. Sweet foods and those rich in other carbohydrates cause an increase in the ‘feel-good’ chemicals in your brain like serotonin, dopamine, and other relaxing endorphins. The effects of these chemicals may make a person more likely to want to repeatedly seek and eat these foods.
The types of foods that people crave are highly variable. But studies have shown that often processed junk foods which are high in sugar are a major culprit. Food cravings for junk foods are one of the biggest challenges for many people, and they are one of the main reasons why people have difficulties in losing weight.
How Can I Control My Excessive Craving for Food?
Cravings are very common. More than 50% of people experience craving on a regular basis. They play a major role in weight gain, food addiction and binge eating. Being aware of your cravings and their triggers makes them much easier to avoid. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthy and lose weight.
It is normal to have special likes for some foods as your favorites – you never say no to your favorite foods. But when your cravings for some foods become excessive such that you can’t control your eating habits, then you have to get help. If you’ve been having a hard time staying away from some foods which you have cravings for, here are some simple ways you can stop the craving or prevent them altogether. You can book an appointment with a dietitian for more professional advice if these do not work out for you.
Thirst is often confused with hunger or food cravings. If you feel a sudden urge for a specific food, try drinking a large glass of water and wait a few minutes. You may find that the craving fades away because your body was actually just thirsty. Drinking plenty of water may have many health benefits. In middle aged and older people, drinking water before meals can reduce appetite and help with weight loss.
Many people who are dieting cut back on calories. Calories restrictions can pose challenges and lead to more frequent feeling of hunger. If a person feels hungry all the time, craving for certain foods is inevitable. However, making certain dietary changes may help to cut down sugar and carbohydrate cravings. It helps when a person structures his/her diet by setting specific times for meals each day. This can help to re-train the body and brain, and communicate to them that there are times to eat and times not to.
Eat More Protein
Eating more protein may reduce your appetite and keep you from overeating. It also reduce cravings and helps you feel full and satisfied for longer periods. Protein maybe especially helpful when you consume them at breakfast. One research published in Nutrition Journal studied the effects of eating breakfast on cravings in teenage females who were overweight or obese and who usually skipped breakfast. They found out that eating breakfast resulted in fewer cravings for sweet or savory foods.
Try a Stick of Gum
Some people find that reaching for a piece of sugar free gum helps them to avoid food cravings when they strike. Authors of a study from 2015 concluded that chewing gum may reduce appetite and cravings. They attributed these effects to the process of chewing. Gum may be a more healthful alternative to sugary or high-calorie snacks. You may want to give it a try as well.
Distance Yourself from the Craving
When you feel a craving, try to distance yourself from it. For example, you can take a brisk walk or a shower to shift your mind on to something else. A change in thought and environment may help stop the craving.
Get Enough Sleep
Your appetite is largely affected by hormones that fluctuate throughout the day. Sleep deprivation disrupts the fluctuations and may lead to poor appetite regulations and strong cravings. Studies have shown that sleep deprived people are up to 55% more likely to become obese, compared to people who get enough sleep. For this reason, getting good sleep may be one of the most powerful ways to prevent food craving from showing up.