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Food Cravings, Why Me?


Do you ever wonder where food cravings come from? You know, when you get that thought in your head for a greasy cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake. People might experience food cravings seemingly out of nowhere, or they may be related to seeing, smelling, or hearing about a specific food. For instance, seeing an advertisement for chocolate might trigger a craving for it.

The brain regions responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward play a role in food cravings. An imbalance of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin, could also lead to food cravings.

Cravings also involve the appetite centers of the brain, even though they tend to be separate from hunger. Obviously mass media has a lot to do with this. The giants of the food industry have a pretty good idea of how the brain works, and how to send you the BUY ME impulse. Basically there are two types of cravings, selective, and non selective. No matter where they come from, the emotion is very strong, and hard to resist. Cravings may also be classified as Physiological or Psychological.


Physiological Cravings

  • hunger

  • hormones

  • nutrient deficiency

Psychological Cravings

  • emotions

  • media

  • stress

How to Reduce Cravings

There are a variety of ways to reduce unwanted food cravings. People can try the following techniques:

  • Reduce stress levels; stress and emotional eating can influence a variety of health issues. Feeling stressed may promote emotional eating and cravings for comfort foods.

For example, a study found that chronic stress was related to more food cravings and that this led to a higher BMI in participants.

Stress may also cause weight gain even without food cravings. Stress results in higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which may promote abdominal fat.

  • Drink plenty of water; Hunger and thirst can produce very similar sensations, potentially leading people to confuse the feeling of thirst for hunger.

  • Get enough sleep; A study found that not getting enough sleep could alter the body’s hormonal balance. This imbalance may contribute to overeating and weight gain.

  • Eat enough protein; A healthful diet should contain plenty of lean sources of protein, as they may help reduce cravings.

  • Change the Scenery; Some food cravings may be due to long-term habits, which can be difficult to replace. For instance, if someone gets fast food on their way home from work every day, this journey may cause cravings.

In situations such as these, people can try to form new habits. Doing this might be as straightforward as trying a new route home from work or stopping at the park for a quick walk instead of stopping to pick up fast food.

For cravings at home, it may help to take a walk around the block, take a shower, or even call a friend. These activities may help distract a person from their craving for long enough for it to subside.

  • Avoid Hunger; Strong feelings of hunger may lead a person to crave more calorie-dense foods, such as processed or fried foods. Eating when hunger begins can help curb these cravings.

Maintaining a regular eating pattern, such as eating several small meals throughout the day, may help some people avoid hunger-induced cravings.


CONCLUSION

I figured this might be a good topic heading into the holiday season. Not to rain down on your holiday inspired gluttony, just to help keep it in check before you make those NYE resolutions...LOL. I'm currently working on my MBA with a focus on sustainability and nutrition in hospitality, and love sharing some of the concepts as they arise. Cheers, and have a great day!

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