Are plagued by food cravings on a daily basis? If so, you’re not alone. More than 90% of people experience food cravings. Truth be told, I experience them every once in a while, too! Food cravings can make it hard to reach your health and fitness goals, it is possible to kick your food cravings to the curb!
What are Cravings?
According to Harvard, food cravings “actually involve a complex interplay of factors: brain messages, behaviors that become habits over time, and having easy access to food.” This proves that food cravings aren’t only due to poor willpower or lack of self-discipline. Essentially, food cravings are intense desires for food– typically, a specific type of food– as the result of many internal and external factors.
What Causes Cravings?
As we now know, cravings are more than just a strong desire for food. They can be caused by a physiological imbalance or even emotional distress. Fact of the matter is food cravings might be more complex than we once realized. But, learning what causes these cravings is the first step to kicking them all together. These are the most common causes of food cravings in America:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Under consumption of calories
- Eating hyperpalatable foods
- Stressful emotions
- Hormonal imbalances
- Certain medications
This widely varied list proves that food cravings don’t stem from just one source. So, it’s important to identify any potential root causes to help kick your food cravings for good.
5 Tips to Help Kick Cravings
Kicking your cravings isn’t an impossible feat. Use these tips and tricks to stop your cravings in their tracks:
- Identify Cause of Cravings- First thing first, know what is causing your food cravings. You can use the list above as a starting point. If necessary, work with a professional to help you identify any physiological imbalances or medications that could be at play.
- Don’t Ignore Cravings– Simply out-willing your cravings or pushing them out of mind is not an effective way to overcome them. Instead, find healthy alternatives to soothe your cravings. For example: dark chocolate or seasonal fruit can curb sugar cravings, while sea salted veggies or baked plantain chips can minimize salt cravings. Sometimes, consistent cravings can be a sign that your body needs more of a specific nutrient.
- Load Up on Good Stuff- Focus on consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods to avoid nutrient deficiencies and help curb cravings. Fill your pantry and fridge with high-fiber foods, leafy greens, healthy fats, and lean proteins to keep you satiated. Also, drink plenty of filtered water!
- Clean Out Your Kitchen- Rid your kitchen of any processed foods that drive your food cravings. Hyperpalatable foods– in other words, foods that are designed to contain excessive amounts of flavor– are most often found in sugary, processed foods. Again, pack your kitchen with primarily whole, fresh foods to avoid giving into the temptation of your cravings.
- Add Spices and Herbs to Your Diet- Fresh herbs and spices naturally add more flavor to prepared foods, making them more palatable. However, some herbs and spices can actually help curb cravings, too, such as: cinnamon, turmeric, and rosemary.
Food cravings are extremely common, today. And while they can work against your health and fitness goals, it is possible to overcome food cravings for the long haul.