Cravings are a common issue that more than 50 percent of people struggle with on a daily basis and are often linked to other problems such as binge eating, weight gain and food addiction. Cravings stem from various causes such as deficiencies in essential nutrients, dehydration, sleep deprivation, stress, bad eating habits and overall lack of discipline in the kitchen. The first step in fighting off cravings is becoming educated in the issue, and then finding out what works best personally by trial and error.
One of the most crucial steps in battling cravings is ensuring that the body is receiving all of what it needs. When the body is deprived of nutrients that it needs to survive, it will continue to ask for more food. Eating a balanced diet by incorporating fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates has proven itself to be the most successful way of keeping satiety in the body. Often times people find it difficult to consistently maintain this type of balanced diet, but in these cases there are options of using supplements to give the body what it needs. Using whole food extracted vitamins and supplements typically work much better, especially in the beginning, because the body recognizes the nutrients as food rather than lab made formulas that are created to mimic the effect.
Another very common trigger for cravings is dehydration. People often confuse their thirst for hunger when the stomach becomes empty. By drinking a full glass of water when experiencing a craving, the stomach becomes full and sends signals to the brain that it is no longer empty which in turn resets its cue for hunger. Another proven way of reducing cravings when it comes to dehydration is eating water as well. There are several nutritional foods that are comprised by majority of water and leave the body feeling full and replenished. Foods such as tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, watermelon, strawberries, cabbage, broccoli and grapefruit are all prime examples of healthy foods that keep the body well hydrated and help curb cravings.
When it comes to dieting, some do so for overall health, but the majority of people are attempting to lose weight. Two factors that are often overlooked when doing so are stress and sleep deprivation. When stressed, the body begins to increase levels of cortisol in the bloodstream. This hormone when found in higher levels, has been shown to dramatically increase cravings and weight gain, especially in the belly area. Often times people who experience higher stress levels also experience lower quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also affects hormonal balance by disrupting the body’s fluctuations, which often leads to poor appetite regulation and stronger cravings. By removing oneself from stressful situations and using time management to find sufficient time for sleep, the body will begin to balance its hormones and the cravings will begin to lessen.
One of the most difficult yet most important things to manage when attempting to reduce cravings is cutting out poor eating habits and practicing discipline in the kitchen. Breaking habits that have been exercised for long periods of time can be extremely difficult to break. The body becomes used to eating certain things at certain times and when change is introduced, the cravings fight back. Discipline can be achieved by choosing what goes into the fridge and cupboards. It can be achieved by not going to the store hungry. It can be achieved by substituting healthier options. Once new habits replace their predecessors, the body will adjust to them and the health benefits will follow.