How To Stop Bad Food Cravings and Why You Have Them
How to Stop Junk Food Cravings
Naturally, if we want to start getting healthy, we first have to learn how to stop bad food cravings.
Sugar…I need sugar.
No salt….I need salt.
As I am sure you all know, food cravings are a bitch (sorry, a little angst there). You can ignore them, try to occupy yourself with something else, have a nap, but they just hover there in your sub-conscience and then pounce again at your first sign of weakness. Believe me, I know of what I speak.
In case you were born in a cave, I will explain.
Food cravings are intense desires for specific foods or food groups. Everyone experiences them differently but they come and go when least expected and defy you to control them. They lead people to eat foods that have adverse health effects, and they can crash a healthy diet quicker than the blink of an eye.
Where Bad Food Cravings Come From
Sometimes they appear out of nowhere but often they are triggered by seeing, smelling, or hearing about a specific food. Television is our worst enemy for that. How about all the advertisements for delicious foods that go on all the time. Mmmm…chocolate oozing caramel sauce, salty, buttery popcorn, creamy, smooth ice cream, and more. Oh, uhh, sorry, got a bit carried away there. I rest my case.
The brain regions responsible for memory, pleasure, and reward also play a huge roll in food cravings. Its not your fault. An imbalance of hormones could also lead to food cravings. Menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and strong emotions can trigger food cravings. But also some food cravings are related to specific foods due to the fact that the body is in need of particular nutrients. “Please….I need a top up over here….”
Two Types of Food Cravings
There are two types of food cravings: selective and non-selective. Selective, as you will assume, are those that are your favorites, plain and simple. Ones you adore and sometimes feel you simply cannot do without, health and diet be damned. A favorite ice cream flavor or a chocolate bar that makes your mouth water just picturing it, or chips and salsa.
Non-selective is the desire to eat anything, anything at all to assuage those hunger pangs. Sometimes this is caused by genuine hunger but often it is due to thirst. Drink your water!!
By far sugar cravings are the most well known and often experienced. Since sugar is hidden in almost every food on grocery store shelves, plus in nearly all of our favorite treats, I am sad to report that most of us have some form of sugar addiction. Sugar takes over the brain’s pleasure center, causing constant cravings. This attacks our body chemistry, leading to rapid belly fat storage, fatigue, and a higher risk for many diseases. Scientists say all this sugar intake leads to damaged cells, These cells trigger intense cravings for sweets. Unburned sugar is finally stored as belly fat, we grow tired and “foggy”, paving the way for diabetes and other nasty diseases.
Here Are a Few Hints to Curb Your Sugar Intake:
– instead of adding sugar to your food try vanilla in your tea and your homemade oil and vinegar salad dressing, oatmeal, buckwheat, or plain yogurt in your smoothie, and onions to your sauces or casseroles for a burst of flavor sans sugar.
– read labels. You will be horrified at the amount of sneaky sugar or sugar derivatives that are added to food items.
– cut down on your alcohol intake. Just one cocktail or glass of wine may exceed your added sugar allowance.
Cravings Can Be Dealt With In Most Cases (or at least lessened with the following methods)
– Reduce stress. This nasty malady often promotes emotional eating and cravings for comfort foods.
– Drink plenty of water. Often food cravings lessen when water is consumed throughout the day.
– Get adequate sleep. Not getting the proper amount of sleep can alter the body’s hormone balance, which leads to overeating and subsequent weight gain.
– Eat plenty of protein. This can suppress your appetite.
– Chew gum. This has been known to reduce both sweet and salty cravings. As well the chewing sometimes makes people feel less hungry.
– Avoid hunger. When we are feeling extremely hungry we often crave calorie-dense foods. Think greasy, fried foods or processed foods. At the first signs of hunger, eat. This will curb the bad cravings.
The Relationship Between Food Cravings and Vitamin Deficiencies
Sometimes yearning for certain foods is a good indication that you have a lack of vitamins in your system. This is just our miraculous body trying to get it through our heads that something is missing.
When your sweet tooth rears its head only in the winter it is probably telling you that your Vitamin D is low due to less sun exposure. Drink fortified milk and orange juice. Eat salmon, tuna, and egg yolks. If necessary take a Vitamin D supplement.
If you crave salty foods it could be due to a calcium deficiency. This paired with lethargy, brittle fingernails, and difficulty swallowing pretty much seals it. Eat more leafy greens, seeds, beans, and natural dairy products.
Citrus & Ice Cubes
This one is pretty much a no brainer. If you are craving citrus fruits you probably have a Vitamin C deficiency. Skin problems, sore joints, and fatigue give you the verdict. Eat strawberries, tomatoes, and oranges.
OK this one is weird but who are we to question. If you start craving ice cubes it may be due to a shortage of iron which can lead to low levels of red blood cells. These guys are very important as they carry oxygen around the body. You need green leafy vegetables and lean meats. Again, possibly an iron supplement.
The body cannot create Vitamin B12 but it is essential for nerve and metabolic health. If you have a deficiency you might crave chocolate. So go for it. Dark chocolate in small portions has a great deal of health benefits. Yay!
Also increase your intake of organ meats, plant based soy alternatives, and nutritional yeast.
By the way, another culprit of chocolate cravings is a lack of magnesium. It also causes anxiety and irritability. Consume nuts, seeds, and kale and start on some supplements.
If salty potato chips are your downfall, or craving of choice, your body might be crying out for iodine. Sea food and sea vegetables such as seaweed are some of the richest sources of iodine. Eat more of these as well as cod, shrimp, and tuna.
Prevent fatigue, muscle cramps, digestive problems, and, again, sweet cravings caused by low potassium levels by adding lots of bananas, potatoes, and oranges to your diet. (I know this one from experience). Those muscle cramps are horrid.
If you are craving fried foods you might be needing more omega-3 fatty acids in your system. These are beneficial fats and not the bad guys. They are needed for cognitive and visual development, immune strength, and brain health. Flaxseed, walnuts, and fish will do the trick and if not, there are excellent supplements available.
So There You Have It
Now you know how to stop bad food cravings (or at least reduce them) and where bad food cravings come from.
Bad food cravings are plaguing you for a reason. Take heed, eat the missing foods, and your cravings will subside. Well, except for once in awhile in a very weak moment when ice cream or salty pretzels are calling your name…
If you have found this article of value, please leave a comment below, and here are a couple other food articles you might also find helpful: