Are Cravings Ruining Your Diet?
Our bodies usually respond or react to different types of foods we eat. Food plays an important role in the way we feel. Food is information and connection for the body.It also plays an important role in our behaviour patterns. Hence, it is important to indulge in foods that can help us act wisely, prevent cravings and do not lead to binge eating.
Let us understand a few causes of cravings
When you sweat and lose water, you also lose electrolytes, like sodium. This may lead you to seek out sodium-rich foods. Staying hydrated is a great way to help reduce extreme cravings. A glass of water before eating has actually been shown to reduce the amount of food consumed during a meal. Another factor to consider is that your hydration status affects your body’s electrolyte balance.
Lack of nutrients
If the body has inadequate nutrients, it might produce odd cravings. An extreme example of this is a disorder called pica, which leads to extreme cravings of non-food items, like clay. This condition may arise due to a chronic iron deficiency. B12 deficiency can also cause mood swings and lead to binge eating.
When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. Stress also plays a crucial role in hormonal imbalances leading to cravings.
Stress can lead to imbalance in blood sugar levels; increasing cravings, increased appetite, resulting in consuming more calories than required by the body.
The body often craves foods in accordance with the season. For instance, In the summer, people crave cooling foods, like raw foods and ice cream. While in winter, we may crave for heat-producing foods, like meat, oil, and fat. Cravings can also be associated with holidays.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain foods are more yin while others are more yang. Within this theory, foods that are too yin or too yang may lead you to crave the opposite in an attempt to maintain balance. This theory suggests eating foods that are more neutral like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and pulses and avoiding extremes on either end that may lead to cravings. For example, eating a diet rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang) and eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for heavily cooked foods (yang).
Lack in the circle of life
Circle of life comprises of stress, exercise, finance, relationship, hobby, joy, sleep, social connection and spirituality. A lack or imbalance in any of these can also cause cravings, since food is often used to fill the gap largely because can determine mood and behaviour.
Ways to prevent sugar cravings and binge eating
Proteins are vital for the production ofhigh-quality hormones that help to prevent blood sugar imbalances and avoid sugar cravings. Healthy fats consumed in moderation are a good source of energy and has a great satiety value. Omega-3 fats particularly help the insulin to function efficiently and avoid cravings. Sources of good non-vegetarian protein are eggs, fish and chicken. Vegetarian protein includes milk and milk products like paneer, curd, pulses, nuts and seeds. Good fats come from ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, walnuts and flax seeds
It is beneficial to eat every 2 -4 hours. Eating on time without skipping meals helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent binge eating. Small frequent meals also help to prevent mood dips and sugar cravings.
Exercise can help to release some of the endorphins that sugary foods release. This serves as a good alternative for high sugar foods which often lead to excess consumption of sugar foods and creates cravings.
Ensure 7-8 hours of sleep. Poor or lack of sleep can lead to imbalances in blood sugars and lead to cravings. Poor sleep can disrupt hormone balances further worsening the issue. Remember though the body is asleep, the mind is recharging, body eliminates toxins and produces high quality hormones.
Starting the day with cinnamon water is a good idea to balance blood sugar levels and prevent cravings.Avoid sugar substitutes like artificial sweeteners as these can actually lead to more sugar cravings and eating more calories than required by the body needs.
You can experiment with mood boosting foods. B6 vitamin also known as pyridoxine helps in improving the moods. Sources of this vitamin are spinach, oats, avocado, walnuts, and salmon.B12 is again an important feel good vitamin. Healthy B12 levels help you feel good. It helps combating depressionSources of B12 are salmon, curd, and eggs. It is important to note that high quality protein like eggs, meat, pulses are building blocks for a mood boosting diet.
Serotonin, also known as a mood regulator, promotes positive and happy thoughts. Eating walnuts, bananas, pineapple, kiwi, plums and tomato can help with this.Foods rich in tryptophan are also beneficial as it can be converted to serotonin. Sources are milk, curd, paneer, fish, chicken, flaxseeds, walnuts, soybean, oats, eggs and oilseeds like pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds.
Eating inappropriately and giving into temptations often lead to unwanted fat percentage and can lead to health disorders. When we eat right, we choose not to react but rather respond to situations and circumstances which can culminates into a better quality of life. Identify what constitutes your cravings and tackle them by making healthier choices.
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