We all have them; food cravings that jeopardize our efforts to lose weight and our long-term health. Why, because the cravings are nearly always for foods that are high in sugar, salt, fat and calories. What causes food cravings, why do we have them, and how do we eliminate them?
Simply put, food cravings are an intense desire for a specific food. Nearly always, our cravings are for food that is very sweet, salty, fatty or loaded with carbohydrates. The cravings can differ according to gender, age and/or personal tastes.
Some of the most common food cravings are for chocolate, ice cream, potato chips, pizza, and pasta. Most of us only have food cravings once in a while. However, food cravings can become an addiction, leading to obesity, depression, eating disorders, and increase the risk for many diseases and conditions.
What causes food cravings? Actually, there can be many possible causes. Identifying the possible causes for your cravings will help you find the solutions for eliminating them. Food cravings can be caused by emotional or physical factors.
*Anger, resentment, bitterness or frustration.
*Stress, anxiety, tension or fear.
*Boredom or emptiness.
If you suffer from any of these problems chronically, your food cravings will remain.
*RESTRICTIVE OR HABITUAL DIETING. If you are trying to follow a very restrictive diet, your body will become nutrient deficient. It will try to fill this deficiency in the form of food cravings.
Consequently, if you are constantly on a diet, you will constantly be craving certain foods. This is why diets based on too many food restrictions cause us to put on more weight instead of lose weight.
*HABITS. You always eat candy bars and popcorn at the movies, you always eat dessert after a meal, you always eat way too much food at your favorite restaurant, etc.
*LOW BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS. If your blood sugar levels are low, your energy levels are low. This can signal your body to crave certain foods.
*SENSORY TRIGGERS. Sometimes your body may respond to a smell like walking past a bakery.
ELIMINATING FOOD CRAVINGS
There are many changes we can make to help deal with food cravings. The following tips will help you with the physical factors that cause cravings.
*EAT A WELL-BALANCED DIET. By eating a wide variety of nutritious food, eating in moderation, and never skipping meals, our bodies will not feel deprived or lacking in the nutrients it needs. NEVER skip breakfast!
*DO NOT EAT AT NIGHT. This is the time when the greatest number of food cravings occurs. If you must eat, have a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or a yogurt.
*AVOID HIGH-SUGAR FOODS. Sugar causes a steep rise in blood sugar levels, immediately followed by steep declines.
*DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Water keeps you feeling full, keeps your body hydrated, and flushes unhealthy toxins out of your system. You may think you are hungry, when your body is actually telling you it needs water.
*GET PLENTY OF SLEEP. Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. This way your body will feel rested.
*BRUSH YOUR TEETH. If you brush your teeth every time you eat, it will discourage you from eating too much.
*If you suffer from compulsive eating and cannot satisfy your craving by eating a small portion of the food you crave, you should completely avoid the food.
The emotional causes of food cravings are more difficult to deal with as they can be very complicated and difficult to overcome. Some of the tips listed below may help you.
*AVOID STRESS. You must make efforts to reduce your stress level. Take up a new hobby, something that you think you would really enjoy. Try knitting, crocheting, working puzzles, playing games with your kids, read, take walks. Use relaxation techniques like yoga or learn how to meditate. Get a massage every week.
*KEEP TRACK OF THE FOOD YOU EAT. Write down everything that you eat in a day. You may be appalled at how much you are actually eating each day. What times do you eat the most? What can you do instead?
*ADDRESS EMOTIONAL ISSUES. If you are angry, depressed, frustrated, etc., deal with what is causing the feeling. Try to find a solution. Remember that eating is not the solution.
*GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK. If you do give into your cravings occasionally, go easy on yourself and try to do better the next time. No one is harder on us than ourselves.
If you suffer from food cravings, you are not alone. However, if they are controlling your life, discover why they are controlling your life and do something about it. No one can help you unless you help yourself.
Chris Chenoweth, author of the DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME, HEALTH & MONEY GUIDE, writes articles pertaining to diet, exercise, health, and business.