Food cravings… You know what I mean. Yes, I am talking about the mid-afternoon chocolate bar fix and the late night comfort of a bowl of chips while watching the latest episode of Nashville. We all have them from time to time. Whether you prefer reaching for the sugary sweets or the salty snacks, you also have those trigger foods that instantly make you feel happy; or so you think they do.
Nobody really ever explains the why behind these odd cravings though. We all know that they have little to do with actually being hungry but why is that? Why do we want them so bad? Why do our minds suddenly “need” chocolate or “need” chips? It is such a silly concept when you think about it. You would think that we could just turn the other way and ignore the craving but it is actually a lot more complex than that. There are several biological and psychological reasons as to why these sudden urges are so strong. Yes, you heard me! It is not your fault!
Let’s take a look at what causes these cravings and how you can stop them from coming back.
What causes food cravings?
Low Levels of Serotonin
Serotonin is your “feel good” transmitter and it has the ability to influence your mood, appetite and digestive system. When you eat high carb foods your body secretes certain levels of serotonin leaving you feeling awesome! But, this is only temporary… You see, when you are feeling down, your body wants to cheer you up and it knows that it can get a quick fix by asking the mind for some foods that will resolve the problem. Unfortunately, for most, these foods are usually junk foods…
Low levels of serotonin in the body can be due to many factors such as poor gut health, anxiety and feelings of depression. There is good news though! By sleeping regularly and exercising on a daily basis, you can get those feel good endorphins up to speed.
Your emotions are a big problem when it comes to controlling your food cravings. If you are like me, when you are sad, bored, stressed or even have one of those days where your self-esteem is just not quite up to par, you reach into the pantry for some treats.
This is a hard one to overcome because you are looking for comfort after a hard day or a difficult situation. It is important to remember though that these cravings will not last forever. As hard as it may be to turn away, do it! Trust me, the craving will disappear within an hour or so. Do not eat your feelings. Try taking your mind off of what it is that is bothering you by talking a walk or by visiting a friend. You will feel better and won’t have to deal with the guilt trip afterwards.
How To Get Rid Of Common Food Cravings?
Thirst can make you think that you are hungry when really you are simply dehydrated. Drinking water throughout the day will reduce the sudden cravings and will suppress your appetite as well. Make sure you drink at least 64 oz of water per day.
Try Something New
You don’t need to reach for that slice of pie when a craving hits you. You will be just as satisfied by eating a healthier alternative. My trick is to keep trying something new. Every time I feel a craving coming on, I try to pick something different to eat so that it does not become a bad habit. Your taste buds have a memory! Confuse it every once in a while. My current addiction is peaches! I absolutely cannot get enough of them. Also, I try to keep healthy snacks ready for on the go at all times. Making portions ahead of time for your snacks will make it easier for you to grab a bag of almonds instead of a sleeve of cookies.
Exercise & Get Some Rest
As I previously mentioned, by exercising regularly and resting periodically, your body will begin to produce its own endorphins. With time, you will get less and less cravings. The hard part is to get into this habit but once you get through the tough part, it is smooth sailing from there on.
Stay Away From Trigger Foods
You know best what types of foods make you crack so, don’t keep them in your house! Why buy something at the supermarket that is then only going to tempt you all week… Don’t be the cause of that kind of torture. If you are feeling down and want a bag of chips but do not have any in the house, chances are that you are not going to feel like going all the way to the store to buy some. Right? The last thing you want is to be the cause of the problem. So don’t…
Does this mean that you can NEVER have mama’s apple pie ever again? Of course not! You can still indulge in your favorite foods but make sure it is for the right reasons and not just because you’re feeling down about something. Be conscious of how you are feeling and treat yourself in good company!