What causes food cravings? We have all probably suffered from food cravings at some time in our lives; that intense yearning for a certain food. Often the desire can seem uncontrollable and you feel as if you just have to have that food to get on top of things and feel satisfied. Some top experts in nutrition claim food cravings don’t last for long; just a few minutes. Those who don’t experience food cravings will often say, “it’s just all in the head!” – And new research suggests they’re right. It is all in the head, from specific areas of the brain, actually. The parts of the brain responsible for pleasure and memory are where our food cravings arise from; what keeps them alive. And the food cravings aren’t for healthy fruit and veggies; no, they are for our favorite junk foods, like chocolate cake, or something like deep fried oily chips. When you are seriously pursuing weight loss, food cravings can be a major roadblock. Some people find food cravings a real menace when they are not even trying to diet; merely trying to eat more healthily.
What causes you to have food cravings?
One of the causes of food cravings is your lifestyle. You have been conditioned to think that way. Maybe Friday night is your movie night with your friends or family and you’re used to eating pizza as well. Maybe in the future, when you’re watching movies, you kind of crave pizza; emotionally thinking of those bygone days as if the two still go together into the future. You have been conditioned to think that pizza goes with movies, not so? Only when you are aware of it, can you actually break the habit or the craving. And it can be tough going. There are many life experiences that are associated with specific foods, and often your emotions are connected to a particular food from those life experiences. But in reality, you don’t need these foods; you have just conditioned yourself to crave these foods, but you can also condition yourself to stop.
2. Hormonal Imbalance
If you have an imbalance in your hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, it could also be behind what causes food cravings. It is so often that our food cravings are for those foods that are high in sugar and fats, which makes balancing and maintaining a healthful diet rather difficult. The areas of the brain responsible for pleasure, memory, and rewards are what cause our food cravings.
3. Low Endorphin
And what about endorphins? Endorphins are important chemicals in the body responsible for our everyday functioning, helping to combat pain for instance or to deliver euphoric feelings. When our endorphins are low, our mood can be low, and we crave foods that make us feel comforted; to fill the void.
Pregnant women, too, experience strong cravings for different foods. It might be for foods that they might not even have liked before. This is because of hormonal changes in their bodies which cause changes in their smell and taste receptors and this is what causes food cravings during pregnancy.
5. Lack of Nutrients
It is also thought possible that some people who have a certain lack of a particular nutrient in their body will have a craving for that missing nutrient. What do you think?
Apparently, there are two types of cravings; selective cravings and non-selective cravings. Selective cravings are when you crave specific type foods, like your favorite burgers, chocolates or a certain brand of potato chips that you love. Nonselective cravings are when you long to eat anything. This can be because you are really hungry or it can be as a result of also being really thirsty.
Ever wondered where those food cravings come from?
You might not have realized it or thought about it, but when you experience food cravings, it could well be your body trying to tell you something – that it needs something that you might not be giving it. You need to make sure that in your weight loss efforts, you are giving your body all the nutrition it needs. If the reason is a medical problem, you need to see a doctor to discuss it. There are several reasons why you could be experiencing food cravings.
1. Vitamin Deficiency:
Your body actually requires 30 vitamins and minerals on a daily basis to function at its peak. Even though there are many foods available that supply all these nutrients, many of us fail to consume foods to meet those needs. Men and women alike need to get in at least 30 mg of a certain vitamin B which is found in biotin. Biotin is found in egg yolks or fish and some whole grains. When trying to lose weight, if you are not eating enough, you can easily become deficient. Biotin also helps your body produce energy. You need to fight food cravings caused by a deficiency in top minerals and vitamins by eating a well-balanced diet. We know this is not always possible because life happens and not everyone has the opportunity. If you believe that you are not getting sufficient nourishment on a daily basis, a good idea is to invest in a well-balanced multivitamin that contains all the nutrients you need and to take this on a daily basis. Your body will take what it needs from that and discard the rest.
2. Low Blood Sugar
(Read this interesting link to see how you can combat cravings).
Low blood sugar occurs when you take in too much of the bad carbs such as chips, sweets, bread, and sugary drinks. When your blood sugar drops, you crave those things. Eating carbs will correct the problem at that moment in time, because it gets into the bloodstream immediately, helping you to feel better straight away. To fix blood sugar cravings, you need to keep your blood sugar even, avoiding the bad carbs and concentrating on more proteins and fats. Feed a stressed-out body with ‘smart carbs’. These can be whole grains, fruits, vegetable, and beans with nutritional power like fiber. High fiber snacks can be seeds, nuts, berries, and boiled eggs. When we feed our stressed-out bodies with the “smart carbs”, we give the body the carbs it craves along with lasting nutritional power from fiber, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals.
3. Imbalanced Gut Bacteria
You have millions and millions of bacteria inside of your body – average healthy people have ten times more bacterial cells in their bodies than they have human cells! Microbiome or gut bacteria is vital to the digestive system and friendly bacteria keeps your body healthy. That means that not all bacteria are friendly. Bad bacteria will cause you to crave sugar and carbohydrates. Get yourself a good probiotic supplement regularly to keep the good bacteria on top and fighting the bad bacteria.
4. Anxiety and Stress
When you suffer from stress and anxiety your body looks for ways to stimulate the dopamine receptors, causing you to crave certain foods, normally unhealthy ones. Dopamine in your body is what helps to control the brains pleasures and rewards. It is easier said than done to say try and avoid anxiety and stress. Meditation is an option as it has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress. When you do feel a longing for comfort foods, change the moment; go for a quick walk to squash the cravings.
Sometimes our bodies tell us we are hungry but in the meantime, we are really low on fluids. When you feel hunger pangs and cravings coming on, try and drink a glass of water, then wait about 20 minutes – you might see that your hunger pangs disappear after that.
6. Being tired
When you are physically exhausted, your self-control and will-power become negatively affected. When your hunger hormones are not balanced, you become hungry even when you don’t really require food – sometimes you don’t even stop eating when your body has had enough. You need to listen to your body and try and eliminate fatigue before it negatively impacts your body and health. Bottom line is this, if you do suffer from food cravings which seem uncontrollable, do take a close look at your nutritional lifestyle.
So, these were some of the reasons why we experience food cravings. Adopting good habits can considerably reduce your cravings. So, start eating organic, whole foods-based diets and say no to processed, fast, and junk foods. Want to learn more about how to combat food cravings? Click here.