Today we’re going to explore the topic of cravings, the 'why' behind them, and the 'what' you can do to manage them effectively.
At FitMiss Health Club, we understand that this is a common struggle for many, and we want to provide you with valuable insights and support.
Cravings are a complex interplay of factors, both physical and emotional, that we all experience from time to time. They often stem from various sources, including nutrient deficiencies, psychological responses, and biological signals. These cravings can lead to feelings of guilt when we give in, creating a frustrating cycle of emotions and desires.
When we are hungry, our body produces a hormone called ghrelin. This hormone is released when our blood glucose levels begin to drop, signaling to our brain that it's time to eat. On the flip side, when we start to feel full, our body produces another hormone called leptin, instructing us to stop eating.
However when we get cravings – this fundamental principal is bypassed! There are several possibilities as to why!
Our brains have pleasure and reward systems, which can strongly influence our food choices. You might find yourself reaching for sugary or salty foods when you're feeling sad or anxious, as these foods can trigger the release of dopamine – the brain's 'feel-good' chemical.
This association can also be extended to past experiences. 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 knowledge can be really empowering as next time you’re stressed and find yourself reaching for junk food, you can find healthier choices to process your emotions such as going for a bath or walk.
Nutrient deficiencies can also play a significant role in cravings. When your body lacks certain vitamins or minerals, it might prompt you to crave foods that contain those specific nutrients. So, understanding what your body truly needs can be a key to managing cravings. For example, if your low in magnesium your body may craving chocolate however this nutrient is found in eggs, poultry, legumes and grains! Below are 5 actionable steps you can take today to curb your cravings!
1. Stay Hydrated: Sometimes, thirst can be mistaken for hunger, leading to unnecessary food cravings. Make sure you stay well-hydrated throughout the day by drinking water or herbal tea.
2. Eat Balanced Meals: Ensure that your meals are well-balanced and include a combination of protein, healthy fats, fiber, and carbohydrates. A balanced meal can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, reducing the likelihood of sudden cravings.
3. Plan Healthy Snacks: Instead of reaching for sugary or high-calorie snacks, have nutritious alternatives readily available. Opt for options like cut-up veggies with hummus, Greek yogurt with berries, or a small handful of nuts. Planning ahead can prevent impulsive and unhealthy snack choices.
4. Practice Mindful Eating: Paying attention to your body's hunger and fullness cues can help you become more in tune with your cravings. Before grabbing a snack, take a moment to assess whether you're truly hungry or if the craving is driven by other factors like stress or boredom. Mindful eating can help you make more conscious choices.
5. Address Underlying Causes: Sometimes, cravings are a result of emotional or psychological triggers. If you find that you often turn to food for comfort or stress relief, consider seeking support from a therapist or counsellor to develop healthier coping strategies.
At FitMiss Health Club, we advocate for a balanced approach to nutrition that doesn't involve strict restrictions. By nourishing your body with a wide variety of foods, you can help reduce the chances of nutrient deficiencies and maintain a healthier relationship with food. We believe in the importance of enjoying the foods you love in moderation while still prioritizing your overall well-being.
Remember, you are not alone in this journey. Cravings are a part of life, and there's no need to feel guilty about them. By understanding the factors that contribute to your cravings and adopting a balanced diet, you can regain control and build a positive relationship with food.
We're here to support you in your health and wellness journey. If you have any questions or would like more information on this topic from our Nutritionist and Balaclava studio manager Sam, please don't hesitate to reach out to her. Together, we can navigate the complex web of cravings and work towards a healthier, happier you.