Food cravings are a very big concern when it comes to lose weight and believe me; I am saying it with experience that I have seen so many people struggling with this issue. I am a professional dietitian and when I take someone’s dietary history to plan their diet and ask them about their current dietary schedule, I usually realize that they people are not doing any binge eating or not craving for anything. However, as soon as they start the diet, their main concern is that they are craving for various foods. Whereas, the fact is I don’t plan a crash diet or nutrient-deprived diet for anyone. I just want to say here that most of the time cravings are psychological and you can very well avoid them.
Another big reason of the food cravings can be dehydration. Sometimes, our brain cannot spot a difference between hunger and thirst. So, if you are craving for something, have a glass of water first and wait for 10–15 minutes and see that if the craving goes away or not.
Third thing which I would like to bring into your consideration is that when our body is actually craving for a food that means our body is feeling deprived of a nutrient. For example, craving for the chocolate means you are deficit of Magnesium. Obviously, your body cannot ask you to have magnesium. So, your brain ask you to have chocolate. The good news here is that you can replenish these nutrient deficiencies with the other healthy options like seeds and nuts etc.
It’s best to not consume the foods that cause cravings in the first place. I’ve found these to be highly refined carbohydrates, high sugar carbohydrates, or the combination of carbohydrates and fats. However, fats on their own or fats with proteins can be quite satiating.
Depending on what they are consumed with, carbohydrates can cause a quick rise and subsequent drop in blood glucose, leading to cravings and hunger. Highly refined carbohydrates may also affect gut health, which in turn could lead to cravings as well (even when one has consumed an entire meal).
Cravings are very common for the people trying to lose weight, but cravings are where many people goes wrong and their hard work is all lost…
What causes food cravings –
Food Cravings can be caused due to physiological or situational factors
A candy bar provides a sugar rush. Or we might crave comfort foods as a way to increase feelings of comfort this is the physiological factor
We might snack on food when we are bored or when we are looking for a way to avoid work that we have to do this is the situational factor.
Now the point is how to control food cravings:-
- Don’t go very low on CALORIES – If your diet is too low on calories, you’re likely to have food cravings that are too hard to manage. When you following a very strict plan, it feels like you are being deprived. In some people, this leads to binge eating or giving up. Instead, follow a healthy low calorie meal plan that allows for some occasional treats. By making better choices and having occasional treats, your cravings are likely to decrease.
- CHEAT your cravings – You can’t eat carrots when craving for carrot cake. Sometimes, when you’re really craving something, you just need to eat it. But you can do so in a way that keeps your diet on track. Save up some calories in your weekly calorie budget and have a small treat as a reward. By eating just a little bit of the food you’re really pining for, you’ll deal with the food craving head-on and potentially prevent overeating.
- Distraction is the key – There are some days when it seems like the food you’re craving is everywhere. Perhaps a coworker brings donuts to the office or maybe you pass your favourite fast food restaurant on the way to the gym. It can be hard to manage food obsession when you’re faced with your favourite foods every day.
You can’t avoid the food completely, but you can create a diversion so you don’t notice it as much. If donuts are in the office break-room, then eat a healthy lunch in nearby restaurant and avoid the break-room altogether. If you pass your favourite junk food joint on the way to the gym, find another route that causes less stress.
A lot of folks may urge you to eat more filling foods. But that doesn’t fix too much, especially since the craving is still there. For example, if you want a chocolate, but instead much on carrots until you are sated, that desire for chocolate does not go away. I’ve found that a great way of dealing with these cravings is to understand that it’s all psychological– usually you’re not all that hungry! Many times, we do it because we’re bored. If that’s the case, engage yourself with something. Exercise, a book, writing, playing basketball, striking up conversation, or even strolling through the park are just a few ways we can effectively distract ourselves until the want passes.
Cravings act as one of the biggest setback when you are trying to lose weight and eat less. There could be several reasons as to why you may be having cravings so the best way to approach a solution for untimely hunger pangs would be to address any of these underlying factors.
Top 4 Reasons & Solution to cravings –
- Reason – Emotional eating – That is eating out of stress or anxiety and we often don’t come to know when we eat during these phases. Solution – The key to ending this pattern is to not abandon yourself when your emotions go awry, but instead to invite them in and allow yourself to feel. Tell yourself that it’s OK to feel sad, mad; scared, tired — you name it. Welcome your negative emotions with kindness and curiosity, and ask them what they want from you. This includes those intense feelings of guilt or anger that tend to follow an emotional eating episode. Approach your feelings with kindness, and your body will begin to understand that it no longer has to overeat to protect you from your feelings 🙂
- Reason – If you skip meals – Skipping meals makes you hungry by the time next meal time and being starved, you end up eating anything which often times happens to be unhealthy. Solution – if you are short of time to make healthy meal for yourself, you can also try getting good quality low-cal meal replacement shakes. The ones by Oziva has Shatavari or Asparagus along with protein which I feel is super good combination.
- Reason – If you are not getting enough sleep, then you could end up having sugar cravings in the day. Insufficient sleep messes up with our hunger hormones which kicks us into a craving mode. Solution – This one is super simple. SLEEP, SLEEP and SLEEP ( don’t overdo)
- Reason – Dehydration can also lead to cravings. Often times, our bodies need water but we tend to misread the signal for thirst as hunger and end up eating instead of drinking water. Solution – Next time, you have cravings; go have a glass of water.
If none of the above solutions work for you, you can talk with a dietitian to help overcome this problem and you yourself can start by making necessary lifestyle changes for good.