5 Reasons Why You Get Cravings – And How To Stop Them
We all get food cravings, let’s be real. But we shouldn’t get them on a daily basis. I’ve helped hundreds of people overcome their cravings, and it’s something I still see clients with on a weekly basis. Because of this I wanted to write this post. If cravings is something you’re struggling with hopefully I can help you overcome them!
I know first-hand how much cravings can consume us. Before I studied nutrition, I was working in a corporate role and was struggling with numerous health challenges. At that time I was a sugar-addict, chocolate and ice-cream consumed my mind daily, and I’d always give into them, only making my craving worse and my health challenges worse, so I know how it feels and how challenging it can be to over-come food addictions and food cravings.
So, today I want to share with you 5 reasons why we get cravings, and how you can stop them.
1. You’re dehydrated
Cravings are often bought on by dehydration. Our body loses around 100ml of water per hour, so if you’re not replenishing this fluid loss you will be dehydrated. Dehydration can also cause low electrolyte levels. Electrolytes are minerals our body uses to absorb water, some of which are found in salt. So, next time a craving comes on drink 1-2 glasses of water, you could even add a pinch of sea salt to help your body retain a little more fluid, and your problem may be solved.
2. You have unstable blood sugar levels
If you’re hungry 1-2 hours after a meal this could mean you’re not fuelling your body correctly at your previous meal. Ideally a well-balanced meal which contains a protein source, a healthy fat source and some wholegrain carbs should fuel you for at least 4-6 hours. If you consume a meal which is higher in refined carbs or higher in sugar this will cause a increase in blood sugar, followed by a rapid decline in blood sugar, which will cause your hand to want to dip into the cookie jar, or reach for an energy drink to pick back up blood sugar. Though it might feel good in the moment, snacking on sugar or drinking a high sugar beverage will cause your blood sugar to spike again, followed by a rapid dip, leaving you craving sweets all over again. So, ensure all your main meals contain a protein source, a healthy fat source and some wholegrain carbs. And if you do need a little snack, opt for a protein rich snack which won’t spike blood sugar such as 1-2 boiled eggs or a handful of nuts. This means your blood sugar won’t be going on a rollercoaster ride.
3. You’re tired, and lacking sleep
Some studies have shown a direct link between lack of sleep and an increase in food cravings. When we don’t get at least 7-8 hours of good quality, unbroken sleep each night this can increase our hunger hormone. When our body is tried and not rested it then craves energy, often resulting in increased cravings throughout the day for a “quick fix” of energy. How to combat this is to simply prioritize your sleep by making sure you’re getting a solid 7-8 hours each night. If sleep is something you’re struggling with have a read over my blog post 5 tips to get a better night’s sleep.
4. You’re stressed
Stress causes our adrenals to work overtime. Are adrenal glands are little walnut sized glands which sit on top of our kidneys. When we’re busy and stressed these little guys take a mighty punch and deplete us of certain nutrients, and can also bring on salty cravings. Our adrenal glands manage our stress response, release certain hormones and control our “flight or fight” response. Next time you crave salty foods, take five, interrupt your stress-response by walking away from the situation you’re in, walk to a calm space, breathe slowly and diaphragmatically or go outside and grab some fresh air. Meditation, gratitude writing, yoga are also great stress-relief techniques.
5. You might be too strict with your diet, or you’re constantly following a diet
This could mean you’re lacking in nutrition that your body needs to feel nourished. Being overly restrictive with what you eat can end up causing more cravings than you need to deal with. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you’re human, a little indulgence is a good thing for our body and mind. Our bodies can deal with an “imperfect” meal or snack. Deprivation is never the answer, so if a craving comes on, allow yourself to indulge, just limit it to 2-3 indulgences a week. Enjoy the moment and move on!
Let me know in the comments below if you found this post helpful. Also, help me help you, I’d love to hear about any topics you’d like me to write about in future blogs posts by leaving a message below.
Hi I’m Natalie, a Registered Clinical Nutritionist, health influencer, blog writer & recipe creator. My own health complications prompted me to make positive diet & lifestyle changes, revitalize my health leading to a career change from the corporate world to nutritional medicine. I believe in a wholefoods approach to good health, focusing on simple strategies for modern, busy people.