- Diet & Weight Loss
How to Stop Cravings for Carbs, Fats and Sugars
Food cravings are thought by many to be a preference for certain kinds of foods at particular times. In reality, there is a more scientific explanation. Most dietitians and doctors agree that the cause is a combination of emotional, biochemical and hormonal factors. To a large degree these vulnerabilities are the result of nutritional deficiencies in the body brought on by a lifestyle of eating toxic, nutrient deficient, processed foods, junk foods and beverages.
Food cravings are persistent, nagging desires to eat, which will not go away until the craving is satisfied. This can be particularly upsetting for overweight individuals who are struggling to reach a healthy weight. Fortunately, there is a way to stop cravings for these damaged high fat and simple sugar/carbohydrate foods, which can be accomplished quite easily with the some simple dietary modifications.
Major Causes of Food Cravings
The most common cause of food cravings is low blood sugar, which is caused by low calorie diets or going too many hours between meals. When blood sugar is low, exhaustion occurs and the brain signals the body that it needs an energy boost which results in sugar or carb cravings. This is a good example of the body having its signals mixed up because it creates cravings for unhealthy sugars and carbs to try to satisfy a deficiency. Blood sugar imbalances occur with over-consumption of simple carbohydrates which produce food and beverage cravings, mood swings and water retention.
Another common problem is hormone imbalance of serotonin which can bring on feelings of sadness and depression. When this happens the body signals the brain that it needs to feel good again. Cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates develop because they produce a burst of serotonin which makes us feel good for a short time, but then serotonin levels drop back down again. This starts the sugar and carb cravings all over again and creates a vicious cycle.
Low fat or fad diets are particularly dangerous because eventually you will become more and more insulin resistant. Insulin’s function is to maintain stable blood sugar by controlling the amount of glucose that is absorbed from the bloodstream. When the body starts to become insulin resistant, it stops responding to insulin and instead takes every calorie it can and turns it into fat. So even if you eat very little you will still gain weight.
Since the body is storing energy in the form of fat, it is not getting its daily energy requirements, so it continues to signal the brain that is needs more sugar and carbohydrates, which results in continual food cravings. Insulin resistance also leads to more serious problems such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity. The major emotional cause of food cravings is stress. Ongoing stress leads to exhaustion which eventually fatigues the adrenal glands. When this happens the body cries out for an energy boost which triggers sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
How to Eliminate Food Cravings
The first step in eliminating food cravings is to stabilize your blood sugar:
-Keep your calorie intake at a safe level so that your body has it daily energy requirements met. Calorie intake should be no less than 1200 per day of nutrient rich food.
-Skipping meals causes a massive drop in blood sugar which is an invitation for food cravings, binges and overeating. Allow no more than 3-4 hours between meals for women and 4-5 hours for men. Rather than eating three large meals per day choose to eat 5 smaller meals throughout the day. Not only will this stabilize blood sugar but it will boost your metabolism, allowing you to burn calories more efficiently.
-Avoid simple carbohydrates because they turn into glucose too quickly causing sugar spikes. The body then overreacts and causes blood sugar levels to become depressed below normal levels. Foods to avoid are those containing refined white flour(i.e. white bread, pasta) and processed and high sugar foods(i.e. soda, ketchup).
-Avoid packaged and canned foods because they are heavily processed and contain too much sugar and salt to enhance flavor.
-Regular exercise will help reduce cravings. Mood has an impact on cravings and exercise has an influence on mood. Exercise releases endorphins which significantly improve mood. If there is a certain time of day when you get craving attacks, plan to exercise just before they occur for 20 to 30 minutes.
What to eat when you crave certain foods:
Sweets - fresh fruit, especially grapes and raisins.
Chocolate - Raw seeds, nuts and fresh fruit.
Bread - Fish, beans and nuts.
Burned food - Fresh Fruit
Carbonated drinks and soda - broccoli, cheese, mustard and kale.
Oil snacks and fatty foods - broccoli, cheese, mustard and kale.
Salty foods - fish, unrefined sea salt, raw goat’s milk
Acidy foods - Fresh fruit, raw nuts and seeds.
General overeating - nuts, seeds, fish, chicken, turkey, seeds, fresh fruit and vegetables.
Eliminating food cravings isn't difficult. However, it does require some forethought and planning. Avoiding trigger foods high in simple fats and sugars is the first step in eliminating cravings. When cravings do come, the key isn't to try to exert your will power and resist eating, but is to satisfy the craving by replacing the food craved with the appropriate healthy alternative.