By : Saloni Deshmukh Nutrition and Fitness Blogger
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The Science Behind Food Cravings

Food craving is an intense, uncontrollable desire of eating some specific food, which varies from person to person, but in most cases unhealthy food. Cravings are very common. These can be caused by a variety of factors which include physical as well mental factors. In some cases, cravings might be an indication of certain underlying health conditions which should not be ignored.

 

What can be possible reasons behind your cravings?

The causes of food craving can be categorized mainly into two categories: Physical causes and Mental causes. Having knowledge of them may help you in working on your uncontrolled cravings.

 

Physical Causes:

 

A diet with poor nutrients

Fibers and proteins make you feel full. A diet that is deficient in these nutrients may cause you to experience cravings even if you have consumed a lot of calories.

 

Hormonal Imbalance

Leptin and Ghrelin are the hormones that play role in controlling your appetite and energy level. An imbalance in these hormones will lead to cravings and weight gain.

 

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)

The menstruation cycles of females depend mainly on the level of two hormones estrogen and progesterone. The change in hormones a few days before a female starts menstruating may suddenly increase cravings for carbohydrates and fats.

 

Pregnancy

The nine months of pregnancy come with a lot of hormonal changes which makes cravings stronger and impossible to resist.

 

Poor Sleep schedule

Poor schedule or lack of sleep disturbs the hormone levels which control our hunger. This can cause food cravings especially in the evening and late at night.

 

Dehydration

Drinking fewer fluids can cause cravings in some people, as fluids impact our digestion process.

 

Mental Causes:

 

Stress

Stress can increase levels of cortisol hormone. High cortisol levels can result in stress-related eating disorders and binge eating.

 

Mood Swings

In the case of some people, a negative mood can trigger food cravings. Foods with high carbohydrate and sugar level increase serotonin, happy hormone, which makes mood lighter. That’s why a bad mood can make people go for such comfort food.

The first step towards controlling cravings is to understand the difference between hunger and craving.

 

Hunger Vs Cravings

 

Cravings are usually for comfort foods like sweets, fried items, fatty foods. You can experience cravings even after you have had a meal recently. Cravings get intensified if you are particularly avoiding some food. If you distract yourself, it passes with time.

 

On the other hand, Hunger is not for some specific food. You feel hungry if have not eaten for a while. It may result in headaches or weakness. Hunger does not pass with time.

 

Cravings are usually for unhealthy comfort foods. Giving in to cravings may result in diabetes, Weight gain, and heart diseases. Below are some foods which you opt for as an option while experiencing cravings.

 

Protein Supplement

Protein keeps the stomach satisfied for longer hours after eating. A high protein diet suppresses the hormone Ghrelin which is responsible for our hunger and increases the peptides and other hormones which keep our stomach full. Adding protein supplements like GRD Bix to your diet can curb your cravings as they contain Class-1 Casein protein come which improves satiety & many added nutrients to keep your gut satisfied. Diabetes patients can opt for GRD Lite (no added sugar protein biscuits). GRD Bix offers a range of delicious, first time in India flavours like Milk, Jeera, Cardamom, Chocolate & Vanilla.

 

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds contain soluble fiber, which absorbs water and swells up forming a jelly-like substance. This keeps your stomach fuller for longer. Chia seeds are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibers, and many nutrients.

 

Yogurt

Yogurt is a healthy and easily available snack. It is rich in Calcium and high in proteins. Yogurt has healthy bacteria to keep your digestion intact. It helps in regulating appetite and controlling cravings. Please make sure that yogurt does not have added sugar, for better results.

 

Eggs

Eggs another high protein super food which helps in keeping appetite and craving in check. Researchers say that high protein breakfast like eggs can help people to reduce hunger and eat less throughout the day.

 

Legumes

Legumes like chickpeas, beans and lentils are great sources of protein and fibers. In fact, 1 of lentils contains around 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. Both the nutrients proteins and fibers helps to keep you full and reduce cravings. Legumes can help with weight loss also.

 

Fermented Foods

Fermented food contains good bacteria. They keep your gut healthy. The bacteria in your gut are linked to your brain by hormones they produce. That is why it can influence your food intake controlling your appetite and food cravings.

 

Vegetables

Vegetables are high in fibres and are source of many vitamins and minerals. Vegetable are low in calories. You can add more vegetables to satisfy your hunger without fear of calories. Bilking up the meal with veggies will keep you full for longer.

 

Whole grains

Whole grains are also rich in fibers, vitamins, and minerals. High fiber content means they will keep stomach fuller. Along with fiber content, they have influence on gut bacteria which again helps in controlling appetite and keep a check on cravings.

 

Along with the above foods you can practice following steps.

  • Drink more water.

  • Get enough sleep.

  • Distract your mind when you experience craving by taking a walk or talking to a friend.

  • Plan your meals in advance to avoid binge eating.

  • Fight stress. Practice meditation.

 

The Bottom Line

There are a variety of factors that can trigger cravings. Observe and find which factor is causing the problem in your case and work on it. Increase protein and fiber intake. Stress and sleep do play important role in this case.

 

 

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