How to avoid the episodes of cravings

Many patients complain about the episodes of cravings, particularly for sweets, some people even say they can easily switch main meals for sweets.

To start with the explanation about cravings, we have to understand that our eating habits and preferences are largely developed in childhood. When we introduce food in childhood, it is rare to offer bitter foods. Mums usually choose to offer salty and sweet foods which leaves us very conditioned to always prefer these two.

Therefore, when the desire for sugary products ceases to be eventual and becomes constant, care must be taken because it can be a sign of binge eating. Periodic binge eating disorder (BED) is a psychiatric illness characterised by uncontrolled eating episodes, which can occur at least once a week.

Compulsive behaviours can be caused, among other reasons, by long periods of deprivation of particular kinds of nutrients or food groups (as carbohydrates for example). For this reason, very restrictive diets are not indicated for most people. No food or nutrient should be completed eliminated from the diet, and meals should be balanced in nutrients using the basic principles of individuality, unless if there is a medical reason for doing so.

The consumption of carbohydrates, such as sugar, increases the absorption of tryptophan, an essential amino acid used by the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that interferes in some functions: Onset of sleep, sensitivity to pain, mood control and the feeling of pleasure and well-being.

But we have to watch ourselves to stimulate our palate for all the flavours: Sweet, bitter, salty and sour, as options that should be part of our food habits.

And yes, it is possible to modify that addictive behaviour and habits! Try to spend a week without using sugar in coffee and tea (or reducing the amount of sugar), and do not consume any sweet foods with too much added sugar (processed juices, cookies and soda). You can introduce the dark chocolate as well (you can start with 60-70%) in your routine, believe me this will training for your palate.

Every human being is adaptable but resistant to changes, to create a habit or get rid of it you need patience, dedication and persistence.

And of course, always consult a nutritionist to adjust your diet and help you in this process!

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Carolina Simon

I am an experienced nutritionist, with eight years of clinical practice, providing individualised advice to my clients. BSc nutrition and dietetics (Brazil), sports nutrition certified (ISSN), postgraduate course on public health management, CPD course on general paediatrics.… Read more

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