Let’s face it – everyone gets food cravings more or less. Most people,however, don’t know hot to control them. As a result they gain body-weight by overeating, or eating foods they shouldn’t be eating – mostly junk food and high glycemic carbohydrates. But what causes cravings and how do you learn to control them to lose weight ?
Our food cravings probably started way back in the time of our ancestors – when food was hard to get. Our ancestors probably craved nutrients that they needed to survive and overate when food was available.
So our brain may be used to sending signals that we need to eat on high calorie foods in order to survive, even when food is everywhere around us today.
Some experts claim that eating too much high glycemic foods or foods with not enough fiber can make us hungry in a matter of minutes after our meal. Foods high in sugar, fats or sodium (salt) can trigger the release of dopamine which in turn makes the brain ask for more of those foods. Some experts claim that eating too little protein can trigger cravings. It can also be a simple hunger thing. If you are burning more calories (during your workouts) than you are consuming, the body may be trying to compensate for the lost energy by triggering a craving for sweet or fatty high-calorie food.
Whatever the reason for the craving, there are ways to put it under control, although you may never eliminate it completely.
Make sure you are not just hungry
The first step is to make sure you are eating enough calories to “cover” your energy expenditure. Make sure you are well-fueled with the right kind of calories, of course. No matter what you try, if you are burning more calories than you are consuming, you will be always hungry and crave for high calorie foods. That’s why you cut only 300 to 500 calories under maintenance when you start a diet.
If you are sure you ate the right quantity of calories to fuel your energy needs and you still feel the urge to eat something sweet, fatty or salty then
Avoid the craving triggers
Take a note of what you are doing before the craving starts and just go a different route. Avoid seeing or smelling things that cause the need for specific foods. Also don’t store junk food and sweets at home – if you don’t have them at home it’s likely you won’t eat them.
Drink some water
Sometimes the brain confuses hunger with thirst. Try drinking a glass of water at the time of the craving to see if you’re not thirsty instead.
Eat low calorie – high fiber foods
It’s always a better option to eat low glycemic and high fiber foods, such as fruits and vegetables, when you feel a craving instead of eating junk food. These foods are great for satisfaction when you crave the physical feeling of fullness.
Eat some nuts
A good idea is to eat a handful of nuts, almonds, sunflower or pumpkin seeds when you start feeling a craving. Because the are high in fiber, healthy fats and protein – they will stop the feeling of hunger for sure.
Too much stress is known to be a huge trigger for cravings. learning to deal with stress can save you from eating hundreds of extra calories a day. I suggest you learn some relaxation technique to deal with excessive stress levels.
Take a nap
Fatigue itself represents a great form of stress to the body. Deal with it by taking a nap and sufficient sleep every night.
Define a cheat day
Eating your favorite junk food is OK once in a while. Eating junk food will keep you happy and satisfied, so you can eat clean after this cheat day. Remember It’s OK to eat a chocolate now and then, but not a whole pack of chocolates and not every couple of days.
Sometimes cravings occur because of a lack of certain nutrients. Here is a list of what you can eat when you feel hungry for specific foods.
When you crave for:
* Sweets and sugars you may need
– magnesium which you can get by eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds or legumes.
– Chromium – you can get it by eating chicken, broccoli, cheese, grapes.
– Carbon – fruits and vegetables.
– Phosphorus – chicken, eggs, red meat, grains, nuts.
– Sulphur – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli.
– Tryptophan – liver, cheese, sweet potato, spinach.
* Complex carbs like pasta
– Nitrogen – high protein foods like meats, eggs, fish.
* Fatty foods
– Calcium – dairy – milk, cheese, yogurt.