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Struggling with cravings? Here's why we get them!

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Food cravings are a complex and emotional topic that many people struggle talking about. No doubt we have all craved something in our lives and we just can resist! But why does this occur?

Cravings are usually a result from either a lack of a certain vitamin or mineral in our diet, psychological responses such as certain emotions, and biological responses when it comes to hunger. Put them all together and you have a complex web that results in cravings. This in turn can often result in feelings of guilt if we succumb to said cravings and there lies a negative feedback loop of emotions and cravings.

When we are hungry our body produces a hormone called ghrelin which is released when our blood glucose levels begin to drop. This signals to our brain that we are hungry so we eat food. Once we begin to feel full our body produces another hormone called leptin that tells us to stop eating.

However, when it comes to cravings it goes beyond what our body needs to survive so this is where cravings and the ability to bypass our normal physiological response to hunger comes into play! There are pleasure and reward systems in the brain and this can be associated with food! For example, if you’ve only had pleasurable feelings when eating cake then the brain releases dopamine (a hormone that relates to feelings of pleasure). So if you’ve had a bad day and want to feel better your brain tells you that cake is the answer!

This concept can also be applied to emotional eating – foods that are often high in sugar and salt result in dopamine being released so when we are feeling sad or anxious it make sense that we crave or reach for those foods! The key thing to realise firstly that this is ok! You’re only human!

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However, this can also be a useful tool to use if this does happen often! If you are stressed and reaching for junk food then this knowledge can result in you finding different ways to deal with those emotions. Try something else that results in you feeling good! It might be a long bath or hot shower or you might even try and remove yourself from the situation and go for a long walk.

Finally, nutrient deficiencies can result in cravings too! If you’re low in something your body may then tell you to crave foods that contain those certain nutrients! For example, if your low in magnesium your body may craving chocolate however this nutrient is found in eggs, poultry, legumes and grains!

The key thing we encourage is to consume a balanced diet that doesn’t restrict! This reduces your chance of nutrient deficiencies and allows you to enjoy food for more than just there energy and nutrient factors! The more we can make people realise that food isn’t only an energy source but a source of pleasure too, then we can have honest discussions on nutritional behaviour and realise that a balance can be achieved.

If you need help on how to handle cravings or want any nutrition advice or help then please don't hesitate to reach out to

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