We will all experience the want and need for sugary foods and drinks from time to time, but sometimes this craving can be more difficult to overcome. Individuals who are on a strict calorie-controlled diet or those battling a weight problem may find these desires particularly difficult to manage.
But what causes a craving and how can we control them?
The cause of food cravings are unknown, however many GPs and nutrition professionals believe they develop as a result of hormonal and emotional factors, as well as a combination of biochemical processes.
When we are feeling upset, bored or are in a stressful situation, we will often turn to food for comfort. While this is a natural reaction, if psychological issues trigger food cravings, it can become a habit and in turn, spiral out of control. In severe cases, cravings can develop into episodes of binge-eating, weight gain and emotional issues. It is important to remember that everyone is different – if you are concerned about your health, it is advised your consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your lifestyle.
There is a common misconception that avoiding breakfast or eating less will lead to weight-loss when in fact, going a long time without eating can result in a drop in blood sugar and an increase in food cravings. Eating regular meals and snacking in between is a good way to control cravings and manage blood sugar levels. For example, try having porridge or eggs for breakfast and some nuts as a mid-morning snack before lunch.
Choose low-GI foods
High GI foods are easily absorbed by the body and in turn, raise blood sugar levels quickly. This leads to the body working hard to rebalance the blood sugar levels and dropping them suddenly. This fluctuation can cause cravings, mood swings and a lack of energy.
Reduce sugar and salt intake
If you sprinkle salt and sugar on your foods regularly, you can get used to the taste and any food without it can appear bland or boring. If you are used to having dessert after a main meal, you may have trained your mind to crave something sweet after something savoury.
Cook at home
Many processed foods have a lot of sugar, salt and other chemicals added to improve the taste. The best way to avoid added sugar and salt is to make your own food at home. If you are wanting something sweet after dinner, try having some fruit or a green tea.
There are also many recipes that include more natural products. The health and wellness world is growing and so ingredients such as coconut sugar and raw cacao powder is more readily available. This is a great way to get your sweet fix and improve your cooking skills, as well as being a healthier alternative.
If you are ready to make a lifestyle and diet change, or are needing an extra bit of support in controlling your cravings, you may benefit from contacting a nutritionist. They can offer healthy eating advice and be the supportive hand to hold on your journey.