Chocolate, Ice Cream, Soda, Coffee, Potato Chips
What do all these foods have in common? These are the most craved foods of today. We have all had those menacing cravings. You just had a fulfilling dinner, you sit down on the couch to watch an episode of The Walking Dead and then suddenly you start feeling hungry. Not like zombie hungry, but worse. Is that really hunger? How can you be hungry, you just had a filling dinner? But if you listen a little, you don’t want just anything. You want something sweet, something crunchy, something chocolatey and creamy. Well good news, that’s not hunger. Bad news, its a craving! Pregnant women arent the only ones that get them. We all have gone through them, regardless of our gender or age. By the end of this post not only will you know what NOT to do when you have cravings, but 3 awesome yet simple ways you can conquer them. What is a Craving?
Simply put, a craving is a desire to want to eat something. It comes regardless of whether you are hungry or not.
Why do we get cravings?
There are many theories that suggest why we get cravings. Some say we get cravings because our body is lacking a specific essential nutrient. For example if you are craving chocolate, it is said that your body may be lacking Magnesium. This infographic below breaks down some of our cravings with which nutrients we may be lacking.
However, some medical professionals call bluff on this claim. They suggest that if a craving was our body’s way of informing us that we are lacking a nutrient then we would crave fruits and vegetables rather than chocolate and soda ¹. Others believe that we have cravings because of the stress in our lives. I mean it makes sense right, we have a huge project coming up, the deadline is approaching and not much of the work has been done. All you can think about now is eating something; something that will make you feel better. And that’s when it clicks, you want to eat your mom’s homemade mac and cheese. Why mac and cheese though? Well, studies show that in moments of stress our body tends to crave foods that will bring us comfort and soothe us. This is why many of us crave foods from our childhood, or foods associated with a positive experience. Also, when we are stressed out we want something that is going to make us feel good. Our mother’s cooking is usually associated with happy thoughts. Except when I didn’t finish my veggies, they would end up in my pocket… So, when we take a bite of that mac and cheese we have a release of serotonin. This chemical is responsible for maintaining our mood. It makes us happy and feel good about ourselves, and it also brings back the memories of the good ol’ days.
Who are most prone to cravings?
Everyone. Dieters are the most prone to cravings. This is because all of their dieting life, they have had to restrict themselves. They restrict themselves on what they are supposed to eat, when they are supposed to eat it. Dieters have to eat the same foods day in and day out. Can you imagine what that would do to a person’s palate? This causes food-boredom, we feel the need to break out of this cycle, because its unnatural. One of the biggest reasons dieters, and many of us, have cravings is because we DEPRIVE ourselves. When we deprive ourselves of something we desire intensely, our biggest goal becomes to acquire that. We think about it non-stop and eventually, give in. However, when we give in under these circumstances we will overindulge and experience guilt.
Another reason we may crave is because of our senses. We smell a delicious aroma in the air and suddenly we are craving doughnuts, pastries and all forms of fatty deliciousness. So what do we do when we have this intense feeling? Do we give up or give in? Im getting to that…
I have tried a lot of ways to get rid of my cravings but they don’t seem to work, what do I do?
Well, lets start of with what NOT to do when you get cravings.
5 Myths about Cravings
Just doing a simple google search will leave us with multiple ways to “cure” or “get rid” of cravings. However, cravings are a normal part of our lives. We shouldn’t have to get rid of them we just need to know how to address them. We can use these cravings to satisfy our bodies and make them a more manageable part of our lives. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular advices given to those who have cravings:
- Myth: Ignore the craving and with time it will go away.
Reality: Has that honestly every worked for you? This whole statement has so many things wrong with it. Whenever something is on our mind, the last thing we want to do is ignore it. No matter how hard we try to distract ourselves it keeps coming up. The only way to get rid of the craving is to address it. Now this doesn’t mean if you are craving ice cream, you grab a pint of Haagen Dazs Salted Caramel and eat your heart out. NO! (well maybe), actually NO!! Take a small bowl of ice cream and serve yourself a couple (3-4) spoonfuls. Eat with a small spoon. When you sit down to eat it, really pay attention to the flavor of the ice cream. Take your time in savoring those itty-bitty chocolate pieces and ribbons of caramel in creamy cream (this is getting really hard to write). Pay attention to your food rather than just inhaling it. Just by doing so, you will notice that you need less than you would have previously thought. Plus it will leave you feeling satisfied and craving free, without the guilt.
- Myth: Choose alternatives to your craving. If you are craving potato chips replace it with a crunchy fruit or vegetable.
Reality: Really! When I crave a potato chip I want a freaking potato chip. I don’t want a crunchy celery stick. A celery stick tastes completely different from potato chips, because its not a potato chip! Some studies have shown that if you don’t address your cravings we will overeat other foods in order to attempt to satisfy our craving. If I want potato chips but I end up eating a celery stick, I will probably dip my celery in fatty dressings or eat something else that may get close to satisfying my craving but not quite do the trick, and then still crave a potato chip. Your body is smart, it won’t get tricked that easily no matter how hard you try. Go for a smarter option try baked chips. Most of the ones I have had, taste the same as their counterparts. Plus they are baked! Again, as I mentioned above, moderation is key. Smaller here is actually better.
- Myth: Schedule your snacks, so you never go hungry thereby never have a craving.
Reality: Is there an APP for that? Im not too sure about you, but my cravings are never on schedule nor on time. I need to fire them. A craving never comes on schedule and actually comes at the worst times ever. It’s just a spur of the moment feeling. You can never plan for it. It just happens. When it does, follow 1 and 2 above.
- Myth: Keep a record of your cravings.
Reality: The last thing I want to do during a craving is to run and write down the time it happens. (Craving #5423: 10pm Need to eat 1 lb of chocolate ASAP) Honestly what good will this do, except make you anticipate the next one. Many believe that if you keep a record of what you eat you will be more conscious of when a craving is going to strike so you are better prepared. Again, I believe cravings are sporadic and there is no way of predicting them, but if it helps you, go for it. I suggest that you accept the craving with open arms and counter with moderation and small doses. This you can definitely get into a habit of doing.
- Myth: Eat a healthier diet and you will crave healthier foods
Reality: I always crave broccoli, dipped in chocolate maybe. I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t craved a creamy, mouth-watering chocolate bar at least once in their life, no matter how healthy of a lifestyle they may live. My husband is in the gym 5 days a week and trains others, and from time to time I see him with a big bar of Cadbury’s chocolate. Just because you begin eating healthy foods doesn’t mean you will crave them. Studies have shown that because of our ancestors, we tend to crave fatty and sugary delights. Last I checked broccoli was neither fatty nor sugary.
Now that we have debunked those myths, time to find out how we can really conquer those cravings.
3 Simple Ways to Conquer your Cravings.
- Breathe! Remember this is just a craving. Many people tend to get worked up when they have a craving, “How am I having an unhealthy craving? I lead such a healthy lifestyle. Its not even cheat day.” Sometimes cravings just want to be felt. Try to visualize exactly what you are craving, the smell, the taste and the texture. If its chocolate, then what kind? Dark, milk, white, with nuts, crispy? Really take the time and be mindful of eating just what you need, and nothing more. This will better help you address the craving, without feeling the guilty aftermath.
- Recognize why you are having this craving. Did you just have an emotional event in your life and are trying to recuperate? If yes, then what you need is not food, you just need to talk it out with a friend. Step out, take a walk and get some fresh air. Remember food won’t listen to you, it won’t answer your questions. If you misinterpret your body cues, you may end up feeling guilty after you have indulged your “craving” leading to more emotions. Its a vicious cycle.
- Savor your craving. When you bite into that piece of chocolate, savor it. Roll it around in your mouth, immerse yourself in that bite, chew it thoroughly, feel it go down your throat. Its mental and physical all in one. The more you pay attention to your craving the easier it will be to get past that craving. You will also realize that you won’t need a huge portion to satisfy yourself anymore. Our brain wants to feel that comfort that chocolate provides. So if you just take some time and appreciate the food you eat, you will see how quickly your brain gets the message and experiences total satisfaction.
Cravings are a normal part of life, everyone gets them. Remember, the most important thing you can do is to pay attention to your body and recognize what it wants from you. Its okay to give into your cravings. Breathe, recognize it and just savor that moment. Like always, moderation is KEY!
Tell me how you have controlled your cravings lately. Leave me a comment and if you want to get more great content, please subscribe.