No one’s impervious to food cravings. At some point, we all feel that pesky, nagging urge to eat the wrong foods. Cravings lead us to make poor food choices. Some experts believe food cravings have both psychological and biological aspects to them. By understanding the root cause of food cravings, it is easier to stop ourselves from over indulging and eating fattening foods. Below are the most common causes of food cravings and how to address them:
Cause: Endorphin Production
Endorphins popularly known as “happy hormones” are secreted by the pituitary gland. It uplifts the mood and makes us feel happier. Unfortunately, it can cause food cravings. Food that is rich in sugar, carbohydrates and salt boost production of endorphins. These items trigger the urge to eat more. This may explain why you’re always less strict about your diet when you are in a good mood.
Solution: Exercise and Have Enough Rest
Studies show that endorphins can also be produced by the body through sleep and exercise. Instead of eating a bag of chips or chocolate bars, go for a quick run or take a brisk walk during the day. Once you get home at night, go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. The endorphins your body produces will be just as good as those produced when gorging on sweets.
Cause: Serotonin Depletion
Just like endorphins, Serotonin is a “happy” hormone created by the body and then used as a neurotransmitter. It mainly comes from the gastrointestinal tract and is believed to have an impact on how people feel. Serotonin can also affect a person’s appetite and digestive system. Studies show that food consisting of sugar and carbohydrates increase serotonin level which can cause food cravings too.
Solution: Improve Gut Health
Since serotonin is primarily produced in the gut, make sure your gut is healthy so it can easily absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. This will help your body maintain the right amount of good bacteria and digestive enzymes that will kill off any cravings you have. Increase the amount of fermented foods rich in probiotics.
Cause: Emotional Factor
Perhaps the toughest to overcome among all causes of food cravings are the emotional triggers. A person is more motivated to eat when depressed, bored, anxious, or stressed. Eating your feelings may make you feel better temporarily but habitual, excessive eating isn’t exactly kind on the waistline.
Solution: Find a Substitute
Cravings do not last long. The urge to eat will pass within several minutes giving you enough time to make better food choices. Even better, distract yourself by working out rather than pigging out!
Also, try drinking lots of water. Keeping yourself hydrated will lessen the chances food cravings. Keeping your body hydrated will reduce the feeling of hunger. Experts say you should drink about 40ml of water per kilo of body weight per day.