I hear you, my friend! We all have cravings!
I crave different foods at different times. I feel great when I eat what I crave.
Humans have cravings from time to time. Usually, women crave food more than men (Yanovski, 2003).
I know that cravings are different with PCOS. They are more frequent and more intense.
Food plays many roles in our lives; it is fuel and nutrients, and it is part of our traditions, celebrations, social, and professional Life. Many times, food brings emotions or take some out.
But, why do cravings happen?
Why do cravings happen?
We crave food for many reasons. I did a long research and from previous knowledge to collect them in this list.
Blood sugar drop, ghrelin secretion (appetite hormone), stomach movement, or not being satisfied after a meal (not eating enough or not the right combination, or food is refined carbs), taking long before eating or skipping meals can all be the reasons for a craving.
· Sensing food
Our senses signal to the nervous system like when we see, smell, taste, touch food, we get stimulated to consume food. Have you ever smelled popcorn somewhere, and then found that you there to buy some? They use the popcorn smell trick to bring people to booths or campaigns!
· Problem(s) with the hypothalamus
Because the hypothalamus, a part in the brain, is responsible for the regulation of appetite and food intake, so if it gets a problem like a trauma or inflammation, can affect our food consumption.
· Hormonal imbalances (as I talked about it in the last blog)
Insulin, appetite hormones, and androgens, they contribute to the feeling of craving food, especially carbohydrate-rich. These hormones are imbalanced in PCOS, so they affect cravings.
· Diets, rules and restrictions
Restriction causes craving what we restrict. Diets don’t work and cause people to think about food all the time.
· Eating Disorders like Binge Eating Disorder and Night Eating Disorder.
· Chronic stress
· Soothing sadness
· Avoidance of boredom, fatigue, stress
· Eating as a reward
· Perceived obligations to eat
(Family gatherings, business meetings, clean-plate syndrome, restrictions, Offers of free food, highly researched and effective advertisements of food)
· Lack of sleep
· Gut microbiota
How to get rid of problematic cravings?
It is totally normal to crave food from time to time. For a long time, we have been perceiving cravings as a “bad” thing, but it is not necessary the case. Let’s re-frame it as a way that our body is communicating to us that it needs something or there is a deeper issue going on!
So, taking a step back to identify the root cause of the craving is important. Ask yourself: why am I craving this food?
· Give yourself permission
Yes, you read that right! Giving yourself the permission to eat without restriction will most likely reduce carvings!
· Be Mindful (Shhh … slow down, notice, listen and feel)
What is your body actually telling you? Why does it want food? It could be real hunger. It could be avoidance of a situation, is it boredom, stress, etc.?
· Listen to internal cues of hunger and fullness
Get to know and feel your cues of hunger and fullness. Those might be covered due to long time of not listening to your body.
Start noticing. This scale can be used to help identify level of hunger and satiety. It is very helpful!
· Combine different foods at meals and snacks
When you eat a combination of protein, starch and fibre, and fat at a meal, it makes it less likely that you will crave sugary food after. The opposite goes to eating refined starches or sugary foods, where your blood sugar will spike and drop fast, which will increase cravings. Insulin has a role here too.
· Identify the trigger(s) and cut the connection
Sometimes, it is a trigger or a previous made connection that makes us crave certain foods. For example: a common one is eating when watching TV, regardless of hunger. Many of my clients tell me they crave potato chips or carb-rich snacks when watching TV, even after having dinner.
· Soothe yourself without food
Use ways of solving feelings other than hunger without food.
· Solve any deep psychological issues
Cravings may stem from an underlying trauma or mental health issue. Working with a doctor or a psychotherapist can be very helpful.
· Work with a Registered Dietitian to explore and find the root cause of cravings
I have a Craving Change license. I can help.
Book a FREE discovery call with me!
Eat with Knowledge. (2018). The hunger/fullness scale. Retrieved from: https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/ewkdownloads/The+Hunger_+Fullness+Scale.pdf
Obesity Medicine Association. (2019). Obesity Algorithm. ebook.
Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2017). The intuitive eating workbook: Ten principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food. New Harbinger Publications.
Neid-Avila, J. (2018). Check Your Hunger-Fullness Scale and Become a Mindful Eater. Retrieved from: https://livewellutah.org/2018/01/31/ask-an-expert-check-your-hunger-fullness-scale-and-become-a-mindful-eater/
Yanovski, S. (2003). Sugar and fat: cravings and aversions. The Journal of nutrition, 133(3), 835S-837S.