Cravings don't have to ruin your hard work: here's how you can make them a thing of the past
Now we've explored what your cravings are really telling you, here's how to understand and overcome the top three most common cravings we tend to struggle with the most.
Sugary stuff causes the release of the hormone Serotonin, which relaxes us. So we often crave chocolate for example, when we feel stressed, sad or (if you are female) low during PMS.
Sweet foods for many of us are also associated with a reward ("if you eat all your dinner, you can have pudding...") So it is no wonder we seek to reward ourselves if we've had a stressful day!
If you're not stressed or sad, sugar cravings can also occur when you're not getting enough quality sleep. This is because simple carbs like sugar give a quick energy fix. Unfortunately this crashes pretty quickly and results in reaching for even more sugar!
The next time you crave sugar, ask yourself why. Are you stressed? Sad? PMS-ing? Tired? Going for a short walk, phoning a friend or doing something fun will help this to pass. As well as making sure you are well-nourished and well-rested.
Salt cravings are highly contested and, I believe very individual. They may be due to stress, as the cathartic "crunch" of your jaw, when met with heavily-salty products like crisps, crackers or pretzels can be likened to punching a wall (not recommended...) My personal training clients have noticed their salt cravings disappear after a vigorous workout, which supports this theory.
Craving salt may also be a sign of dehydration, as hunger can often be misinterpreted as thirst. Salt encourages water retention, so drinking a large glass of filtered water the next time you crave salt should shed some light on this.
These simple carbs (white bread, pasta pizza...) are processed by the body in the same way as sweets and chocolate. They therefore have the same effect on your serotonin levels, so cravings for these are often a result of feeling exhausted!
Some research has also found that craving calorie-dense foods goes way back to prehistoric times, when we needed to hoard in order to survive. The brain's opioids and dopamine levels (related to concentration and pleasure) reacted to the benefit of high-calorie food as a survival mechanism. It is this same reaction that still takes place today.
I hope you now have a greater understanding of why cravings occur and how to overcome yours. It is also important to remember that cravings in some cases can also be the result of a vitamin or mineral deficiency. So if you're still experiencing them having tried all of the above, it might be an idea to speak with a qualified medical nutritionist.
Eating a nourishing, balanced diet combined with regular exercise and good quality sleep is certainly the most sensible starting point. So if you feel you need further guidance on making your body the healthiest and happiest place it can be, feel free to get in touch today 🙂
Wishing you health and happiness today and always!