Have you ever questioned why, despite setting a goal to cut back on junk food or simply eat more healthfully, the thought of it never completely leaves your mind?
Some of us are big foodies and just love to hog onto new cuisines all the time. But why does it really happen?
Some scientists say that cravings last up to five minutes and not more than that.
It seems like women are always having some kind of discussion about diet, how to be their best selves, or why are they always hungry or, plainly put, crave certain foods. It is natural to assume that the purpose of all of these conversations is to get the summer bodies that have long been the pinnacle of beauty. But what if there’s more to it than just demonising food?
Food is often vilified, but sometimes the culprit may be ourselves. For example, diet-induced cravings may be triggered by physiological deficits such as nutritional deficiencies or psychological effects such as suppressing food-related thoughts.
Dietician Ashleigh Caradas provides IOL Lifestyle with some insider knowledge about what cravings are. “Cravings or desires for certain foods can be caused by a variety of factors. Physiologically they can be due to under-fuelling (eating too little), skipping meals, not getting enough protein, or eating foods that spike and drop blood sugar.”
She adds: “ Emotional carvings can stem from trying to numb emotions or fulfil in another way. Stress, loneliness, sadness, etc., can cause cravings”.
Either you have not changed the diet appropriately or haven’t considered one or more of the factors above. Some people also just really like junk food, and preferences and cravings should not be confused.
A food craving is an intense desire to eat a particular type of food. As people, we typically crave energy-dense foods: chocolate and other chocolate-containing foods are the most frequently craved foods, followed by other high-caloric sweet and savoury foods.
Renowned Gut Health and Hormone expert Dr Amy Shah, says that our mental health is linked to our gut health. As the proverbial saying goes, "you are what you eat".
She shares in her blog post-AMY MD that what’s important is that you need to train your brain and you need to be intentional about your foods. "Choose healthier food alternatives, meaning choose foods that cause the release of dopamine and serotonin, which can improve your mood.
According to researchers at Yale University's Rudd Centre for Food Science & Policy, the foods we eat while we are craving them are typically low in nutritional content, even though they provide us with an energy boost.
Like addictive drugs, highly palatable foods trigger feel-good brain chemicals such as dopamine. Once people experience pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain's reward pathway from eating certain foods, they quickly feel the need to eat again.
What you can do to handle cravings most effectively:
- Eat regular meals and try not to skip if prone to cravings
- Learn about the glycemic index and what causes sugar spikes. Learn how to eat the right carbohydrates in the right amounts and combine them with the right foods to prevent carvings.
- Make sure your food is interesting. We sometimes crave because our food is boring or the choices are not varied enough.
- Fill up on fibre: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
- Eat protein in the morning with breakfast, even if you need to include a protein powder and eat protein at every meal.
- Don't skimp on healthy fats like fatty fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds, as they help fill us.
- Allow an occasional indulgence and fun foods so as not to deprive yourself.