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Better known as selective hunger or free-time hunger, a food craving refers to the sudden psychological temptation that tells us of our love for a specific food, especially when we are low on energy or when we have enough time to spare. This surge of food-centric emotions often manifests itself in different ways because it is way different from a specific hunger for a particular food at a particular time.
One may even have enough desire or temptation to eat a chocolate or a pastry even when one is not hungry, but one’s love for the two indulgent delicacies may lead the road to the stop named ‘food craving.’ Tastier as it may sound, it can quickly derail your efforts to get a fitter and leaner body in a unit time.
We are investigating just how different it is and what determinantal effects it may have thus have on your fitness.
Craving for food, especially when one is not hungry
As explained above, a food craving is meant to classify our natural instinct to pump ourselves to eat a certain type of food or to have a certain type of drink at unusual times. One would almost always pick up cakes, pastries, patties, deep-fried foods, junk foods, packaged chips, and chocolates in the list and then top them faithfully with soda or aerated drinks, and it is difficult to hold oneself back during the process.
We understand these foods do tend to pump up our “excitement” but they do not come without their mile-long list of health risks. These packaged junk foods contain a lot of unprocessed salts that may wreak havoc on our digestive system, these aerated cola drinks can simply flush out all the calcium from our bodies and eating too much of sweets or chocolates can ruin our dental health besides courting diabetes.
What are the reasons for unnecessary cravings for certain types of foods and beverages?
It’s a difficult question to answer.
However, a part of the answer finds itself rooted in our physical hormones. One should reasonably expect that low serotonin levels do trigger certain parts of our brain that are responsible for hunger. These may also tell our body that we are running low on fats and carbs (alternative sources of energy), and we need to make a quick call on what we are supposed to be eating next to mitigate the difference.
Medical reasons for Food Cravings: The choice of cola, chocolates, and deep-fried foods, and aerated cola beverages
It becomes a natural response for us to go for foods that have higher levels of the sugar glucose. It is so because the foods and beverages rich in sugar and/or unprocessed salts like deep-fried chips, cola drinks, chocolates, and sweets offer us an easy way out to compensate for the “falling” or “perceived falling” levels of sugar in our bodies. Since they are different from our usual diet and taste very tangy, we fall for them every single time.
The worse happens when these foods and beverages trigger a chain reaction in a circular manner.
The person eating some chocolate or a sweet would not stop at eating one piece alone, nor would a person drinking a cola drink would stop at first serving. When we take the first serving of these indulgent eating or drinking options, their constituent materials start interacting with a certain part of our brain (called the opioid receptor system) to bring on an addictive effect.
We can understand this by filling the air in a bicycle with a manual air pump. When someone fills the air for the first time, he also feels an urge to check if the tire is good enough and then he again starts pumping air in it. He checks for the same at regular intervals. Similarly, the subject eating a sweet or chocolate would always feel hungry for more; and the more he eats, the more he feels like having all of it.
Control your emotions, or they will control you!
As mentioned above, we crave more for only certain types of foods and beverages because of their unique composition. They do contain some ingredients that we perhaps cannot say no to and we often start rolling with them once we have had the first serving.
For example, chocolates top the charts among all the food cravings across the world. This is because it is full of a natural neurotransmitter called phenylethylamine that triggers a release of endorphins, the “happy hormone.” The more the subject takes of them, the better he feels. It is thus exclusively popular among the diabetics, and the persons with poor dental health, and those battling depression on a daily basis. Chocolate is quite an alpha-drug for most maladies!
Craving for Chocolates
Yes, being a chocoholic is never easy!
Chocolate is that one high-energy food that is available across the world in several different forms and tastes. Mostly preferred by women, it marks itself as the number one craved food in the world and is preferred by menstruating women at different times of the day.
Several recent types of research have concluded that eating one small piece of chocolate after each of the three meals every day keeps us focused, happier, and more energetic. Chocoholics would, however, disregard this advice- they would find themselves more at ease with eating one piece now and then, and to be honest, this often seems like a natural way out for most of us.
In case you too are one of them, you may treat your chocolate cravings by smelling fresh flowers of jasmine for a few minutes. It would help!
Food cravings during early pregnancy
Pregnancy is an important phase in a woman’s life. It is the time when she is busy spinning dreams for her child and is all but focused on experiencing his/her touch on her lap. It is indeed a wonderful feeling to begin with and we can only have a lot of respect for it.
But there is a craving for sour foods during this period and it is usually irresistible.
Women do crave sour foods during their pregnancy, even during seemingly impossible times to begin with. We do not know the reasons for the same and all we have are simple guesses that include reasons like a loss of nutrients early morning or physical changes. One may also notice that these food cravings during pregnancy can accentuate in social functions when a woman finds herself among her relatives and friends, thus pumping the “happy hormone” again. Who knows if this isn’t a cause to indulge in food cravings all over again?
There could be a psychological reason too. Women may crave these foods to subconsciously tell others that they are pregnant and that they would require more assistance and attention at all times. This practice has been under constant observation since Adam and Eve, and it is best we do not disregard it.
Simple tricks to crush cravings for chocolates, cola, sweets, and almost anything!
You do not always have to be a slave to do what your body is telling you to do. You should rather take a smarter way ahead and use any of the following techniques to crush your cravings for foods and beverages that you like so much.
Please note that cravings can trigger anywhere, anytime, and play on your vulnerabilities, and sometimes the impulse to have a particular food item is so compelling that you just can’t say no to it. Once you surpass the craving after munching on the things you crave for, you normally tend to feel guilty.
This is a never-ending circle which leads to a delay in weight loss desires. So, the next time you have a craving after dinner or just before lunch, just follow these simple tips and crush them out on the spot!
1. Sip a cup of tea or coffee
Consuming a hot beverage is a great and low-calorie option to handle sweet cravings. A tasteful cup of coffee will not only relax you but will also fill you up with liquids. You can simply go for those flavored options which are low in calories like peach, apple, cinnamon, or berry for your sweet fix. Topping your favorite cup of coffee with a little sweetened milk is also a great way to handle midday hunger cues.
2. Choose your snacks wisely
Sometimes you just have to eat it and get indulged to handle the cravings or hunger. Go for it but be smart and choose an item that does not exceed more than 200 calories. The best option to handle sweet cravings includes a protein-packed nut bar, Greek yogurt with berries, or a cappuccino. For salty options, you may choose from mixed nuts, cottage cheese, or sesame crackers.
3. Eat a pickle
If you are craving something salty, maybe you should just have a pickle. Yes, we know that this food item is high on sodium but it is also really low in calories. One or two spears will do the trick and none of this would add to your waistline. Just remember to gulp down some water to flush out that piece of sodium later!
4. Halt method
Halt before you engage yourself in mindless noshing. If you already had something high in calories and want to grab the next thing, don’t forget to ask yourself if you are really hungry? It’s time to say no to mindless munching which is more or less out of boredom, tiredness, or loneliness. Try to identify if you are actually hungry or you just want to speak to a friend or take a nap.
5. Sticky activity list on your pantry door
Your pantry will be the best place to stick to the list of things you have to do. This will help in diverging your interest and reducing the chances of mindless eating and will also handle unhealthy cravings.
All temptations are beatable and so are unusual food cravings!
Yes, it is all possible and we would thus suggest you power on the show with a lot more discipline than you have shown so far. Temptations lead to food cravings, and whether you are (or could be) pregnant or not, you can always take a step upwards to negate the threat.
You will surely have to make few changes in your diet until you can find a satiating, sustainable set of patterns that works best. Just in case you slip or overindulge, don’t worry. The key is to think about what to do next. Don’t let the guilt or temptation overpower you, but rather use it as a motivator to make better choices in the future!
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