Why do I feel like eating more at lesser intervals?
Why is there an urge to eat a certain type of food?
Why do I need a certain food now when I’m feeling full?
Relax, you are not alone. These are questions that have plagued as all at some point in our lives. We all have experienced a type of craving to a certain type of food and here is the reason why.
Your brain gives command to your digestion system and taste buds to eat more. Even more so technically, if you have a neurodegenerative disease. Especially due to ageing, as there could be imbalance in eating behaviour, obesity and diet history.
The reason why you have cravings is not as simple as a habit you can throw off that easily.
A food craving can be defined as an escalation towards a specific food, and strangely that is not hunger. The signal for both does come from the brain but from different brain circuits.
This brings us to our next key question: Where does motivation come from? The brain contains a powerful molecule called dopamine which controls the motivation for hunger or food cravings.
When you have attained a specific goal, the brain releases the right amount of dopamine. The brain also remembers this action and when a similar chance arrives, the brain releases the dopamine to conquer that goal.
Sensory control of brain
Brain takes over the control of all the senses. Even drug addiction is a classic example. In this case extra dose of dopamine is released that can kill the hunger, sleep etc. addiction is a string craving.
Brain is not engineered for all foods but some specific ones. Maybe you’re obsessed with pizza, chocolate or fried chicken, that is then registered in your brain with the amount of dopamine to be released for each.
(It must be noted that a pregnant woman looking for sour food or pickle is not same as the craving we are discussing here.)
We have all felt something called a sugar rush, which then induces cravings of the same food. It’s not eating a piece of chocolate, its eating the whole bar! I’m sure you know exactly what we’re talking about here…
So what happens when it comes to this insatiable desire to eat more than we need and can control? When we eat sugary foods, this releases high levels of dopamine (discussed above) which then releases insulin in the body. The dopamine makes us feel good and the insulin controls blood sugar levels going too high (hyperglycemia). As this is refined simple sugars and involves quick absorption and digestion, insulin levels then come crashing down, which is also known as a sugar crash. You suddenly feel lethargic, distressed and look for more sugar to stabilise the feeling, hence leading you to eat more sugar.
Here are 7 ways to control your cravings?
There are actually many ways to control, manage and eradicate food cravings and these are actually rather simple:
- Drinking more water – thirst is not only mistaken for hunger but also cravings. When you feel a certain craving, try reaching out for a glass of water or two and wait for 10 minutes, your cravings should dissipate.
- Eat more protein – a high carb diet is also a substantial amount of sugar being induced into the system (through carbohydrates – especially if its refined) so try adding more protein and a substantial amount of healthy fats to your diet.
- Manage your stress – chronic stress can be a major contributor to cravings. Stress doesn’t feel good, hence you turn towards (feel good foods) to help. This is mainly, high fat, high carb or high sugar.
- Sleep – many underestimate the power of sleep. Lack of sleep increases the hormone ghrelin into the system which is the prime hormone to stimulate appetite. So a good 8 hours of sleep every night is recommended.
- Boredom – plan your meals and keep yourself occupied. Simple!
- Read ingredients – there are now food manufacturers who induce certain types of chemicals into the processing of the food, which stimulates appetite and makes you eat more. Can you ever stop at one Pringle? Hmmm!
- Deeper rooted issues – cravings can very much stem from deeper rooted emotional and mental distresses in your life. Louise Hay talks a lot about emotional connections to certain food and lifestyle habits in her book, Heal your Body. Definitely worth a read.
So although we have felt food cravings, we now know where it comes from and what can be done…it’s all in our control!
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