Have you ever been working, exercising or simply relaxing and an overwhelming for a food or drink hits you out of nowhere? Your body can pick up on many environmental cues that make you desire food for either hunger or to satiate your hormones. Having cravings for foods and drinks are universal, and many people find themselves craving something either daily or weekly. Periods of time such as after exercising (when your body wants calories) or during pregnancy (with boosted hormones) can intensify how much you crave foods.
Your cravings are regulated by your hormones. Your hormones regulate reactions in your body, and those reactions (like cravings) can become incredibly intense depending on how your brain’s pleasure and reward system works.
Your desire to eat is driven by the parts of your brain that regulate pleasure and reward. What a person craves will vary between the sexes and cultures depending on what brings people pleasure. If a piece of candy or something salty has ever brought you feelings of happiness, your brain will remember. The next time you see a piece of cake, your mind may trigger a craving, which causes your body to produce a higher level of dopamine. That dopamine many make it seem like you have to have something specific—like salty french fries or delicious pie—and you have to have it right then.
It’s not your stomach speaking to you, but the hormones coursing through your body. Some people indulge in eating what they craved, only to feel remorse afterwards or sadness. This is a common feeling for people who are dieting and not keeping with their goals. The desire and thoughts of eating what you craved were likely better than what you actually ate. All of those feelings are triggered by dopamine, which heightens your perception of everything. However, dopamine doesn’t have to drive you to binge on your cravings, whether it be to food or unhealthy habits. Dopamine can drive your motivation to stick to a diet and avoid things you crave, if you want it enough.
Consumers can be bought by their cravings. Businesses know this and cater their advertising around common food cravings and scents. It’s a little known fact that stores (in places such as malls) can actually have the air around their stores scented through the ventilation systems. If you suddenly get a whiff of something so delicious, you can’t help but go into a store, you probably have fallen prey to artificial scents in the air. That is why sometimes the smell of something delicious outside of a store can seem less delicious when you actually eat it.
A way to get ahead of binging after you decide to better your diet is to have a set meal plan or to have help from a professional with food counseling. Have meals set the night before that you eat throughout the day that are already portioned for you. This eliminates problems with last-minute cravings that happen every time you feel hungry and want to eat. Try to always get ahead of intense hunger by eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day. You may release extra hormones that cause you to eat if you go too long without eating.
When you get a craving, try riding it out for a few minutes. Instead of immediately giving in, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and then reassess your craving. Go into another room or move the item out of sight. Then reevaluate after the time limit and restart the timer if you want to test how long you can go without giving in. Over time, you may just find that you can go longer and longer without giving in (or you don’t give in at all) if you have a set time you have to wait.
Don’t try to overcome your cravings by yourself if you find that you give in to them consistently. Nutritional assessments and counseling can go a long way in helping you lose weight. This is a professional service provided to patients that helps them see what nutrients they lack in their blood. They can see where fat deposits lie and can work with a professional to manage their diet, control their weight and overcome what they crave. Having someone else to hold you accountable is incredibly effective for losing weight. If you want that professional help, call Olathe Chiropractic today at (913) 732-0087!