Cravings (Guest Blog: Kit Nutrition Collective)
It seems simple right? Just eat when you’re hungry. Unfortunately, it is rarely this simple. Life happens, and stress and hormones want to play a different game.
Cravings occur when factors other than hunger impact your desire for food. There are many external and internal factors that can cause your body to crave different foods. Knowing the difference between cravings and hunger, knowing what your cravings are telling you about your mind and body and knowing how to action your cravings is vital to gaining control of some negative habits.
- Different types of cravings
Physical hunger is the chemical and physical signals from your body that let you know that you are hungry and require sustenance to maintain normal bodily functions. Emotional cravings can manifest in many ways. Recognising the difference between the two is vital in building self-awareness and combatting negative habits surrounding fuelling your bodies.
Signs of Physical Hunger
- Your want/need for food intensifies if you do not eat
- You will eat anything, rather than needing a specific food
Signs of cravings
- You want a specific food
- Could lead to binging
- Your need to eat can go away if you distract yourself with other tasks or just with time
So let’s have a closer look at cravings. I would like to point out that our bodies are really smart. The chemical signals released by your body to crave food can mean a number of things, being able to recognise those signals and act upon them in the correct way can be a really powerful tool for your health. Some of the reasons you may get a craving include, but aren’t limited to:
- Psychological or physical stress: when the body or mind is exposed to stress, it often manifests in the need for “comfort food”. This will often be for a specific food and usually is not satiated until the whole product is consumed. For example, having a fight with a loved one or getting a visit from Aunt Flo and consuming a whole block of chocolate, 3 tubs of ice-cream, 7 packets of chips and 2 large pizzas. Or just one of the above.
- Habitual eating triggers: These are cravings that are brought about when you complete a certain task or go to a certain place. For example, if you always have popcorn when you go to the movies and HAVE to have it, or the experience isn’t as enjoyable, or having something sweet after dinner.
As I said before, recognising these signs and acting on the signs in an appropriate way can be transformative to your health. Here are a few tips when you are faced with what you think might be a craving
1. Think about external stressors in your life like work, kids, university or just being super “busy” that may be making you feel overwhelmed.
2. Think about what you are doing and why you want to eat? You may find that you don’t actually have a reason.
If you identify that your craving is emotional, take a few steps to try to dissolve your craving by:
- meditate, if this is your jam, go for it. If not, start simple and maybe just try to brain dump (write everything in your head) onto a piece of paper so you know what you are thinking about and what might be stressing you out.
- have a drink of water
- go for a walk around the block or even just getting up and walking outside
- replace the food you crave with something healthy. If you think you “need” to eat but only allow yourself some raw veggies with dip, do you still “need” to eat?