Cravings : The Everyday Battles

From using food to fill the space in our stomach, today we all use food to fill the space in our heart ❤️

I am sure no one is exempted from these battles on a daily basis, the fight between your Left (Logical) Brain and the Right (Emotional). We all know how tough these battles can be at times.

First, let’s talk about the difference between hunger and craving because those 2 can be confusing.

Cravings – A state where you feel like you’re hungry even when you aren’t.

Hunger – A physiological need accompanied by physiological signals.

The way I know the difference is by using this rule I ask myself if I am comfortable eating apple or carrot with hummus dip if not !! There are gray zones, but I typically use this rule to differentiate.

Cravings for food are less related to nutrients, and more to the pleasure system of the brain.

In order to form a habit, the brain goes through a three-part process. It is called the Habit Loop.

First, there is a cue that acts as a signal for the brain to go into automatic mode and decide which of its stored activity patterns to use.

Next is the routine. These are the activity patterns we’ve created for ourselves.

The last part of the process is the reward. It is the value of the reward which the brain uses to decide if it wants to remember a loop. The rewards can also be physical, mental, or emotional.

As a loop is repeated over and over, the neural connections associated with the cue, routine, and reward strengthen and they become a habit.

The cue and the reward become so intertwined that anticipation begins right after the cue appears. We commonly refer to this anticipation as a craving. Cravings are the driving force behind habits.

The cravings you have to tell a powerful story about how your body is feeling and what it needs. So it’s essential not to ignore them, but rather to analyze their origin, especially if you have health issues.

Cravings may center on texture (creamy, crunchy), taste (sweet, salty), or mood (stress, anxiety) but they all have something in common — overindulging can sabotage your diet and health.

WHY ? – what could be the reason behind this urge.

Blood sugar imbalance :

Cravings are most commonly caused by this. Sweets and crackers are common cravings for most people. Sugar cravings may be obvious, but crackers and potato chips are also signs of hunger for sweets, as they convert into glucose in the body very quickly, giving you that sugar high.

Intestinal imbalances (Gut Health):

In fact, your cravings are greatly influenced by leaky gut and intestinal bacterial imbalances. In a healthy body, trillions of microbes keep digestion running smoothly by working in harmony. Nevertheless, stress, sugar, drugs, toxins, and other lifestyle habits can all cause the “bad” microbes to overgrow their good counterparts. And guess what these “bad” microbes feed on?? Sugar!

Food allergies and sensitivities :

In spite of what it sounds like, sometimes you crave the foods you are sensitive or allergic to the most. The slight irritation that is caused by repeated exposure to the same foods can ultimately develop into a full-blown allergy.

Nutrient deficiencies :

Why may you crave certain foods when you may be deficient in the nutrition they provide? 

For example, if you are craving chocolate, you may be deficient in Magnesium, which is found in the cacao plant.

A lack of minerals might explain why you constantly crave salty foods such as potato chips, or if you over-salt your food. Mineral depletion can also result from stress, as the body reacts to it.

You may be deficient in zinc if you have PMS-related cravings.

Want to chew ice all the time? This correlates to iron deficiency.

What about carbonated drinks and fatty foods? It’s possible that you’re calcium deficient. 

Bread and toast? Possibly a nitrogen deficiency. This is why it’s so important to try to figure out your cravings because they may be telling us about what our bodies need.

Emotional :

There are 2 parts to this: habitual cravings and non-food cravings. Food is emotional, and this can sometimes work against us.

The foods we crave during special occasions are those we must have for habitual reasons. Popcorn 🍿 at the movies, deserts at festivals, or Buffets and beer on Friday evenings. Early habits can embed these cravings in us, which explains their power. There’s nothing wrong with habitual cravings, especially if they occur 1-2x yearly, but they become problematic when they interfere with specific health goals. Making healthy substitutions and refocusing on how you view food can help you overcome these emotions (harder said than done, I know).

A non-food craving is when you are craving food due to an emotional or mental urge (yup, we all know how it feels right). Loneliness, boredom, stress, anger, frustration, or even happiness can contribute to these cravings. I know that when I’m in a fight with a friend, family, or upset about something, I binge eat because that’s what gives me a type of satisfaction that temporarily fulfills my emotional needs. Your emotions and nutrition go hand in hand.

HOW can I overcome?

  • Enjoy a small portion. Don’t give up these foods. In your overall healthy diet, include a small portion of the less healthy foods you crave. Better to enjoy a square of chocolate than to avoid it altogether.
  • Build Metabolic flexibility, by understanding how your body adapts to food and developing the ability to respond or adapt to changes in metabolic demands.
  • Eat something healthy first. It’s often easier to eat less of the food you’re craving if you’re not ravenously hungry.
  • Keep the food you crave out of the house!!. Buy the item only when you plan to eat it, or order it at a restaurant.
  • Gut Health can be reset by taking more vegetables, fiber, and probiotic-rich food and avoiding the whites (Salt, Sugar, Flour)
  • Change your mental picture. When you experience a craving, replace the image of the food with a picture of yourself doing your favorite activity or some other pleasant image.
  • Distract yourself. Food cravings usually pass after 20 minutes. Try taking a walk or talking to a friend.
  • Chew gum. Chewing sugarless gum reduces hunger and cravings for sweet and salty snacks. I use this hack a lot my fav XS Gums can chew for hours.
  • Get enough sleep and exercise. These habits help lower your levels of the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite. Lack of sleep can lead to food cravings and overeating.
  • Substitute a healthier option. Satisfy your craving for something smooth and creamy with something low-fat or fat-free, such as yogurt, pureed fruit, or buttermilk. Eat a piece of fruit as a healthy sweet snack.

Few Tips :

Ice Cream – Better Bet: Half a cup of slow-churned ice cream has less fat and half the calories.

Potato Chips – Dip celery or carrot sticks in hummus. You’ll get a satisfying crunch with fewer calories and more nutrients.

Chocolate – Have a small square of high-cocoa dark chocolate.

Nuts – Control your portions or stick to nuts with the shells on.

Coffee – avoid flavors, plant-based milk

Nervous Nibbles – Replace nibbling with stress management techniques such as walking, yoga, or taking a hot bath.

A Bad Day Binge is when you turn to sources of emotional comfort other than the fridge. Phone a friend, listen to some favorite music or write in a journal.

Since you have read this far, I assume you are open to change. It is not enough to have an external motivation for the problem to be solved. The change happens inside to outside not the opposite 

Dedicated to my Cravings Queen Priya Jampana #Wounderwomen

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