Cravings – What Are They? & How To Beat Them?
Posted on November 02 2020
as your fitness trainer explained you on the importance of right nutrition for fitness and you have been following them strictly? Yet, silent thoughts of having some delicious pizza, pasta, ice creams, chips, chocolate, and pakodas keep hovering in your mind? Hmm… I can understand.
Cravings are an enemy of every fitness freak as it makes the best of your intentions to get easily derailed. No matter how hard you try to push those urges aside, they always win out in the end.
You’ll learn in this article about cravings, what causes these urges, and will get some tips on how to beat them. Ok, let’s go ahead…
What Are Cravings?
The word ‘craving’ is a broad term which explains the desire for a specific thing. Cravings mean to desire eagerly for something, be it sweets, be it affection, be it attention, be it books etc. This article is particularly focused on cravings for food.
Cravings are a kind of motivational state or stimulus that give you an urge to seek out for food, most of the times when you are not really hungry. To explain you in biological terms, cravings are the state of our brain in the grips of downregulation.
Cravings can leave us feeling like we need something when we don’t. Before we go ahead to learn what’s behind these urges, I need to clear this common doubt among people…
Is Craving & Addiction One & The Same?
Addiction is strongly characterized by the compulsion to use a substance, uncontrolled consumption, and the existence of withdrawal symptoms like anxiety and irritability.
The main difference between an addiction and a craving is that addiction impacts the quality of your life, it’s more of an uncontrolled urge, you can’t function until your cravings have been satiated. Cravings tend not to last more than 10 minutes.
Top 10 Reasons For Cravings
1. Stress – Stress is the topmost reason that sets cravings. You crave for sugary items like chocolate, which are also termed comfort foods when you’re stressed as eating them releases dopamine (a feel-good neurotransmitter) that lower stress levels.
2. Lack Of Sleep – Not getting enough quality sleep will make your body look for quick-fix energy, cravings for carbohydrate-rich food.
3. Improper Hydration – Not being hydrated well can cause confusions in mind for hunger cravings as thirst and hunger are a similar sensation in mind.
4. Dieting – Since dieting requires you to avoid certain foods, causing you an emphasis on portions and serving sizes, this often leads to overwhelming cravings.
5. Regular Practice – You are regularly having coffee/tea at 4 pm, and you notice your mug is empty around that time, then you’ll have cravings for it. We easily take ourselves into craving foods or beverages because we recall how we felt when eating or drinking them.
6. Lack Of Nutrients – If your diet does not contain enough nutrients, you’ll tend to find something calorie-dense. This happens because your body is not designed to presume calories as not equal to nutrition.
7. Lack Of Bulk – Even after eating sufficient calories, if you still crave for something, it could be because of lack of fiber in your diet to keep you full.
8. Social Setting – Sometimes, the craving could result because of where you are and what you are surrounded with. When you are surrounded with junk/fast-foods, you’ll feel the urge to eat them.
9. Fatigue – Fatigue is another common reason like stress which initiates craving feeling in you for carb-enriched foods.
10. Boredom – In some cases, cravings can result out of boredom. In this case, you’ll find something satisfying about a salty snack when you crave it. Excessive sweating also makes you crave for salty items like chips.
So, what’s the solution to beat these undesirable cravings?
1. Distract Yourself
When you get the feelings of cravings, distract your brain with other things like going for a brisk walk or listening to loud music, playing a video game or reading a book. This can take the mind of the cravings until we no longer have them anymore.
2. Eat Regular Meals
A steady schedule of meals a day like regular breakfast, lunch and dinner trains the brain to eat the right things at the right times and to pass up those wrong things we might crave in between. Having a breakfast which includes a good amount of protein, cereals and salads for lunch keeps you full and can help you avoid the typical 4 pm cravings.
Exercise benefits our body physically and physiologically. Those who engage in regular exercise have better executive brain functioning to regulate food cravings and are found to crave for healthier foods. A new study has found that hitting the treadmill for 15 minutes significantly improves your resistance to reaching for sugary snacks.
4. Choose A Healthier Substitute
Over time, do your best to replace processed foods with unprocessed ones, and retrain your taste buds to enjoy the flavour of the foods you eat without the need to cover them up with extras like butter, sauces, salt and sugar. Studies show that vinegar slows stomach emptying, keeping you full for longer. So you can drizzle apple cider vinegar over dishes or consume it right before meals.
5. Smell Essential Oils
Ever tried smelling the essential oils? Chronic stress levels can cause increased cortisol which causes you to binge on food. Try smelling peppermint oil, jasmine or bergamot oil, the aroma of the essential oils has been proven by studies to curb cravings as they work to lift your spirits, clear your mind fog and may effectively help combat the effects of metabolic syndrome.
6. Avoid Watching T.V For Long Hours
Watching T.V for long hours, especially in the evenings can cut your sleep time, which could throw off appetite hormones the next day, and could set you for craving sugary or calorie-dense foods. Not just this, but increased seeing mobile phones will increase your hunger hormones resulting in unignorable cravings.
7. Set Your Limits
I don’t say you should totally give up on cravings after all our body is not a machine, sometimes, your body wants what it wants and it is better to honour your cravings. You may find it very tough to totally wean off cravings especially when you are in a weight loss phase, such times limit yourself to eating one small chunk of chocolate (for example) a time instead of eating the whole big bar and combine it with healthy counterparts like fruits and veggies.
8. Consume Cinnamon/Ginger/Herbal Tea
Regular consumption of herbal teas made with cinnamon, ginger, fenugreek, lemon, mint, tulsi help boost metabolism, minimize insulin spikes, control blood sugar levels, keep your bowels clean. The herbs are loaded with antioxidants and polyphenols to help curb hunger cravings.
Note: If your cravings are persistent and intense and accompanied by other symptoms like fatigue, you should discuss it with your doctor to rule out any kind of underlying health issues.
Making a connection between pleasure and a particular food or beverage can influence otherwise healthy eating choices, leading us to eat for reasons other than hunger…
If you ask me, the easiest way I follow to put off my chocolate cravings is writing… Let us know about your experience on cravings and the ways you follow to handle them in the comments section below…
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