It’s 9pm and you are watching your favorite TV show and you start to crave some chips. What do you do?
- Get up and give into your craving and eat the chips?
- Eat the chips and then the chocolate and then the ice cream?
- Brush your teeth and ignore the chips?
- Read this blog below to figure it out?
Hunger vs. Cravings
Do you know the difference between hunger and cravings? Hunger is felt in the stomach as a gnawing, rumbling sensation. Cravings come more from the brain and are harder to physically feel. When you eat dinner and then feel the need to have dessert even though you are full, you are having a craving. If you have a need for something salty or sweet or want a certain type of food, that is also a craving rather than hunger.
Cravings usually occur in response to stress or a situation. For example, you go to the movies and you want popcorn. Are you really hungry for popcorn or do you just want popcorn because that is what you should eat when you go to the movies? Cravings can also be brought on by stress or nutrition status. Have you been cutting bread out of your diet and now you sit down to an Italian restaurant and all you want to do is eat the whole bread basket? That is the classic sign of a craving.
So what can you do to prevent cravings?
Check in with what you are eating during the day. Is your diet balanced with the correct amount of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats? When you diet macronutrients are balanced, which results in your hormones being balanced, therefore cravings can be few and far between. Be sure that you are you filling yourself up with plenty of vegetables, lean protein and complex carbohydrates, not sugary simple carbs.
Start to form new habits and break old ones around situational eating. So lets take the movie example again, if you crave popcorn every time you go to the movies then change your behavior. What can do to prevent that craving for movie theater popcorn? Well, first you can make your own healthier version of popcorn and bring it to the movies with you, or you can have dinner before the movies so that you are full going into the movies and don’t want the popcorn.
What happens when you get a craving?
When you get a craving here are some things you can do to manage them. My friends at Metabolic Effect talk about drinking the ME cocoa to help deal with cravings. Take 1 tablespoon of organic baking cocoa and mix it into hot water. Sipping on this drink can help stimulate pleasure centers in the brain and help to fight cravings. Also, drinking BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) can also help to fight cravings. Place a scoop of BCAAs in water and sip on it to help prevent cravings.
Take a look at what you are eating overall, your diet may be lacking a certain nutrient. Have you ever had a craving for red meat when you don’t eat it that often? The body is very smart. Sometimes if the body is lacking iron then you will start to crave red meat signaling that your body needs iron which is found in red meat. Every body is different and can crave different things when in a nutrient deficiency. Do some examining. See see if your cravings are trying to tell you that your body needs something that you are not giving it. However, your body doesn’t need chocolate and candy so don’t use this as an excuse to eat candy! ;)
If you are always craving snacks at night out of habit and boredom find something else to do. Go for a walk, take a bath, read a book, find a hobby. Do something to take your mind off of wanting to snack.
What do you do to manage your cravings?