Expert advice Nutrition

Know How To Resist Food Cravings!

Shiny Surendran

MSc, Grad Dip Sports Nutrition (Intl Olympic Committee), Accredited Sports Dietitian - Sports Dietitians Australia, Level 2 Kinanthropometrist - ISAK, New Zealand

5 min read

Many of us are guilty of gorging on certain unhealthy foods when we feel stressed, anxious or bored. Also, when we are in a negative mood, we may experience certain food cravings. This is due to the close connection between cravings and memory. Certain foods make us feel good! A positive feeling or memory is created when we eat the foods we love. So in times of distress, we turn to the foods that can make us feel better or happier.

Food cravings are a major challenge for someone who wants to make a change to their eating pattern or for someone wanting to lose weight. When you experience food cravings you need to ask yourself if you are really hungry or if you are indulging in emotional, comfort eating. Some food patterns are set from childhood. Usually, when a child cries, the parents immediately offer the child something sweet to eat to calm the child down. This becomes a habit. So each time you feel the need to calm down (even as an adult) you search from something sweet to eat. This is known as emotional eating. There is no actual physical need for such foods but since it has a soothing effect, there is a craving for such foods. Many women have food cravings before their periods. This is a sign of premenstrual syndrome known as PMS. Hormonal changes are to blame for this. The reduction in sugar levels during this time leads to cravings for sugary foods. This is because at the cellular level there are nutrient deficiencies that are not addressed. So if there is a craving for fried stuff and chips, it means your body is actually craving for good fats.

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At the cellular level, if the nutrient deficiency is not addressed, there is a tendency to crave for a lot of nutritious foods but you end up reaching for the wrong foods. For instance, if you’re craving for foods like bajji, bonda, samosa, khakra or anything crispy like murukku or chips – it means that at the cellular level, the craving is actually for good fats. The good fats are found in avocados, nuts, seeds, good quality butter, ghee, flaxseeds, pulses, and cucumber and melon seeds. A small number of good fats are in whole grains too.

When UR not eating nutritious foods and continuously eating junk foods, there will be a deficiency of good fats. Omega 3 fatty acids as you know are found in fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, almonds etc. But if U R someone who doesn’t consume all of these foods then there will be a deficiency of omega 3 and this can create cravings for crispy foods.

Moreover, UR body will continue to have these cravings unless you satiate it. Therefore, make sure UR choosing the right foods. In case you are having cravings for sugary foods, it could be an indication of a deficiency of B complex, magnesium, manganese, selenium, chromium or zinc. So basically, you just need to eat a variety of foods which are loaded with nutrients on a daily basis, to get the vitamins and minerals you need. If this aspect is sorted, cravings too will be fixed to a great extent.

Eating nutritional foods, but still craving for something sweet?

Here’s what you need to do:

Eat naturally sweet fruits like custard apple, Chiku (sapota) or any other fresh fruits like guava, pineapple, papaya, pomegranate etc.

Try eating jaggery and dry fruits like dates, apricots, figs and raisins which are sweet.

Avoid white sugar or added sugar. You will soon be able to experience the natural sweetness of foods.

Check for emotional issues and get it seen to so that you can avoid emotional eating.

Address any nutritional deficiencies that you may have.

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You can probably be on a supplement for some months and then if your diet is well balanced and if you are consistently consuming nutritious foods, you won’t experience any food cravings. Another strategy to avoid food cravings would be to go out for a run or take your pet for a walk. You can also distract yourself by listening to some music, doing some art or getting yourself a manicure or pedicure.

Tips to stop UR hunger pangs

  • Eat your meals properly: When you eat enough during your meals, you won’t experience cravings for sugary foods.
  • Do some exercise: Go for a walk or do some exercises at home to get your body moving!
  • Drink adequate water: Drinking water before your meals can be very helpful to curb cravings.
  • Don’t eat to treat your stress: When you’re feeling upset or anxious, instead of finding comfort in unhealthy snacks, meet a close family member or friend or try to do something you love doing to feel calm and relaxed.

The important thing is to take UR mind off food cravings. Once you become aware of the fact that the foods you eat when you have cravings are not good for UR system, you will see a major change in yourself and over a period of time, this will become a habit. So watch your thoughts. Be aware and you will be able to see some amazing results come UR way!