Food Craving: Understanding Body Signals
Food cravings mean that the body has its signals mixed up. When we are
exhausted or blue, we have low blood
sugar and/or low serotonin, and the body
signals the brain that it needs a pick-me-up. This signal causes a sugar craving
Why do we crave for food?
There are three basic factors responsible for food craving:
Serotonin is our basic feel-good
hormone. Hormonal imbalance or weak digestion can lead to low serotonin.
Unfortunately, sugars and simple carbohydrates release a short burst of
serotonin — we feel good for a moment, but soon return to our low-serotonin
state — then crave more sugar and simple
Insulin is responsible for maintaining stable blood sugar levels by telling
the body’s cells when to absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Being insulin
resistant means your body stops responding to insulin, and instead grabs
every calorie it can and deposits it as
fat. So no matter how little you eat,
you will gradually gain weight. Insulin resistance leads directly to
disease. And a low-fat diet
makes it far more likely you will
suffer from this condition. At the same time, your cells cannot absorb the glucose they need, so they
signal your brain that you need more carbohydrates or sugars. The result is
persistent food cravings.
If you eat a low-fat diet in the hope of
losing weight, you unintentionally
make the problem worse. If, like millions of women, you have eaten a low-fat,
high-carbohydrate diet for many years, or followed fad diets, the odds are good
that you have become at least partially insulin resistant. Millions of women are trying the
Atkins Diet or the
South Beach Diet. While these diets are an improvement over the conventional
high-carbohydrate diet, they can worsen your metabolic problems,
because dieting itself is stressful to the body. So many women need to heal
their metabolism first before even considering weight loss.
Another cause of food cravings is adrenal fatigue. If you are under a great
stress, or suffer from insomnia or
sleep deprivation, you are probably
exhausted much of the time. This leads to adrenal fatigue
or outright adrenal exhaustion, which in turn signals the body it needs a
pick-me-up. You may resort to sugar or carbohydrate snacks or coffee during the
day and carbohydrates or alcohol at night, all of which exacerbate the problem.
How to curb cravings
Learning how to listen to your body is a vital step to living an
healthy lifestyle. Women who blame themselves for their food cravings only worsen their mood and
increase their need for serotonin. That’s when a pattern of emotional eating can
develop. Remember, there are biological causes of sugar cravings, and your
carbohydrate craving is rarely just a behavioral problem. The root problem is
more likely inadequate
To reduce food cravings, the body needs real
support — and lots of it.
healthy foods, eating
every day (skipping breakfast can make cravings worse), taking nutritional
supplements, moderate exercise and lots of emotional support can almost
miraculously curb cravings. Your metabolism will heal itself when provided with
the necessary nutritional support. If it has been damaged, the process can take
some time, but it will happen.
Here are some tips to help when times get tough:
Eat every 3 hours. One of the biggest culprits for
cravings is falling blood sugar levels. If you keep your levels steady, you
simply won't crave the same things. The easiest way to combat cravings is to
avoid them in the first place.
Drink water. Dehydration confuses the body and will often make it
feel hungry. A small glass of water each hour will keep your stomach full and
keep you hydrated.
Wait. Real cravings stay with you but psychological ones don't. If
you've eaten enough and are hydrated, putting off a decision for 15 to 20
minutes will help the craving dissipate.
Distract yourself. If you've been working in front of a
computer but feel the need to
eat, do something else. Make a phone call or read the news. Changing your
mindset might be all you need.
Exercise. If you start to
exercise and your
cravings aren't physiological, you'll feel better almost instantly. If they
are physical, you'll never be able to really get into your workout, which is a
sign that you need to eat.
Keep healthy snacks around. Keeping healthy
around will help. Have a piece of fruit or some raw veggies. If that doesn't
help, you'll know your craving is psychological.
Change your routine. Habit can affect a craving, so shake up what
you do, even if it's just slightly. Turn off the lights in your kitchen and
try not to use that room. Forcing simple
changes can make it easier to follow
through with tougher ones.
And when absolutely nothing else works, give in—but RARELY! Have a
square of chocolate instead of a whole bar, a serving of chips (around 20)
instead of a bag, half a soda instead of the entire thing. And never let one
bad evening turn into a three-day (or three-week) binge! This will work your
habitual mind in the right direction and lead to the ability to cut that
craving out for good.
healthful diet should
be one that meets your nutritional and your emotional needs, as well as your
Dated 18 July 2013