You do not simply want a Sundae brownie with hot chocolate sauce: you're desperate for one. And nothing else (not even that creamy cheese cake you have in the refrigerator) will satisfy you. Does it sound familiar to you? If so, you are among the one million Americans who experience cravings for food on a regular basis.
You can actually have cravings, or an intense desire, for almost anything. Cold weather can inspire cravings for a wool sweater, crackling fire or a hot bath. The stress of work can give you cravings for a vacation. But write the word "craving" in any search engine and what you will first see mainly are results related to food. And ask a friend to share your main cravings (probably list a list of foods).
About 75 percent of people routinely crave meals, says Susan B. Roberts, a nutrition professor at Tufts University and author of "The 'I' diet," and you have more women than the men. Your way of responding to your own food cravings can play an important role in your physical and emotional well-being.
Dieting or labeling certain foods as "forbidden" often triggers an increase in cravings for them.
Minh-Hai Tran, Registered Dietician
More than 21 million Americans experience depression each year, according to Mental Health America. The low levels of serotonin associated with this condition inspire food cravings in many people, according to Simon Casey, a licensed therapist and author of "Secrets to Emotional Wealth: Follow Your Yellow Brick Road."
This is because carbohydrates help your brain to produce serotonin (a chemical that allows you to experience relaxation, satisfaction and joy).
Casey explains that "people with low levels of serotonin use carbohydrates to quickly achieve feeling well enough even for a short time ".
Refined foods, such as sweets, salty snacks, and commercial baked goods, offer fast-acting carbohydrates, so the lower your serotonin levels fall, the more intense your cravings for such foods will be. Refined products also contain few nutrients, associating cravings with nutritional deficiencies. ares, your brain sends signals to your body so that it wants foods that contain them.
Because hormones help regulate your appetite and your moods, food cravings also stem from hormonal conditions, including premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, menopause, and thyroid disease.
And spending a lot of time without eating lowers your blood sugar level, which will increase the urge to eat carbohydrates, says Martha McKittrick, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in New York City."I doubt that many of you have a craving for broccoli when you have not eaten for eight hours, my hypothesis is that they will be looking for something sweet or sweet," says the doctor.
And those starchy and sweet foods, such as cookies, candy, white bread and chips have high glycemic content, which means they have a significant impact on your blood sugar level. Achieving your satisfaction with these foods, particularly in large quantities, can stimulate hunger and cause you to eat more carbohydrates.
But eating too little can have similar effects. McKittrick says "When you consume very few calories your hypothalamus produces neuropeptides And extra, a chemical messenger that encourages you to eat more carbohydrates" and "In addition, the hypothalamus secretes another chemical called 'galanin', which increases the cravings for high-fat meals and carbohydrates. "
Stress, anxiety, loneliness, disappointment, boredom and even excitement can encourage cravings for certain foods in particular. You may have food cravings as a means of distraction for stressful situations (or craving foods that you ate as a child when you miss your loved ones). If your emotions are strongly linked to your eating habits, you may have cravings and look for something to nibble without even realizing the emotional influences that are at play.
In a study published in "Physiology & Behavior" in September 2009, the researchers analyzed the cravings and emotional state of 198 obese women. The women had chocolate cravings over the rest of the food. Those who went through psychological distress showed significantly more cravings for high-fat sweets compared to participants who did not experience stress. The women who were experiencing PMS showed an increase in cravings for junk food.
The emotional consequences of food cravings leave one step for a catch-22. Resisting the foods that you crave may increase your desire for them, making you feel anxious (and finally triggering a binge later). Feeding your cravings can trigger a feeling of guilt and frustration (stimulating emotional food or eating in response to emotional rather than physical cues).
"Almost nobody feels good about the cravings for things," says Roberts, "Most people feel bad because they feel out of control and experience weight gain."
Guilty for feeding your cravings, as well as anxious to try to resist the causes of stress (which increases the production of cortisol, a hormone directly linked to weight gain and fat fixation). In other words, pleasing or resisting the foods you crave can contribute to adding pounds.
To combat excess pounds, many people who crave food diets (particularly fad diets, which fail to provide adequate nutrition).The National Eating Disorders Association explains that denying your body the essential nutrients, well balanced and the calories you need to function properly increases your risk of falling into food cravings and its complications (including binge eating, slow metabolism, weight gain, problems with sleep, added stress, anxiety and depressed mood). As negative emotions and poor rest can also contribute to food cravings, this creates a snowball effect.
Healthy Comfortable Foods
Although the occasional or modest portion of a low-nutrient meal fits your overall healthy diet, learning to add more nutrients to your favorite foods may allow you to enjoy them more often and avoid the sense of deprivation.
If you have cravings for salty snacks, McKittrick suggests low-calorie microwave popcorn (a substantial whole-grain cereal) or baked tortilla. For a more natural option, choose popcorn inflated with herbs.
To sate your sweet taste, look for a yogurt topped with fruit or half a cup of unsweetened ice cream with added raspberry. A cup of fresh raspberries supplies 8 grams of satiating fiber.
Instead of the typical pizza, bake whole-wheat pizza topped with tomato sauce, sliced vegetables and a little cheese.
Substitute a hamburger with cheese and chips for a lean turkey burger on brown bread, served with baked sweet potatoes.
Do you love the cake? Prepare your favorite cake recipe with wholemeal flour instead of cake flour and replace the butter with canola oil. For texture, sweetness and extra antioxidants, stir fresh or frozen berries in the dough.