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Sometimes you might be urged for some things that your conscious mind says ‘No’. But the most thoughtful thing is, why only some of the people have these frequent urges and not all? You might always be trying to get through this yearning but, is it necessary to stop thinking about what you are craving for?
Cravings are an intense desire to have something. Everyone craves differently for different things. Let’s talk specifically about ‘Food cravings’.
Yes! Cravings are purely natural and normal phenomena occurring in your body.
Many written texts show cravings mean that your body needs that specific nutrient present in the food. Like, if your mind demands fries, then your body needs sodium. But, this fact does not justify the reason why we get cravings. If cravings are a medium of telling the body’s requirement then, what do you think? Why are millions of people suffering from nutritional deficiency syndrome?
Professor Susan Roberts, director of the energy metabolism Laboratory at Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Ageing at Tufts, has researched the type of food that people mostly crave for. In this research, 32 overweight women were put on a diet. They mostly craved fries, chips, and chocolates that are high in sugar and fat. So, this clearly shows that carving doesn't always mean the body is deficient in that nutrient.
Also, there is certainly research that shows cravings for glucose-related food is more than any other food. This is because the brain has an opioid receptor that is triggered by the glucose and thus causing the urge to need more of that food as happy hormones are released because of it.
There may be certain stages in life when we can develop more cravings than normal:
If you are pregnant, then hormonal changes are at its peak and thus affecting the mind and body a lot. At this stage, there are more chances to develop different food desires. Menstruation and Menopause to cause a lot of effects on hormonal change. So, cravings during this period are more frequent than usual.
Emotional trauma, we are so much connected to the food as every time we feel sad or depressed, we feel cheerful after having our favorite food. So, if you are facing any emotional stress then there might be a frequent chance of getting cravings for a specific food.
All the emotions, functions, and regulations are controlled by the only regulatory system, the ‘Brain’ of the body. So, the cravings are caused by the parts of the brain called the hippocampus, caudate, and Insula. These three parts work in coordination to help the brain to develop the desire for food.
Hippocampus remembers the food as a reward and it thinks as a pleasurable memory and thus it's the part that generates the crave. Caudate also takes part in remembrance of food-related rewards and develops a habit of taking that specific food as a reward. Insula develops the connection between your food and feelings. Thus, it is the part that makes a specific food as a reward.
Whenever the first time you have seen your desired food, Insula was the first who got activated and made the connection between your food and emotions as a reward. Now, Hippocampus came in the role and remembered it as a connection of reward. At last, Caudate was the one who made this as a habit as whenever you see the food, you feel yourself rewarded.
It might happen that due to your cravings, you are unable to perform your work or concentrate on it. So, what to do in that case? There are various methods that you can go for:
Taking enough protein in the diet helps the body feel full. So, this can decrease the desire of taking more foods. This is the reason protein is advised to take those people more in diet who are on “weight loss”.
Try to reduce your stress as this is one of the major factors for frequent cravings.
Drinking more water is said to be helpful in this case. Consuming more water can fool the body to some extent and thus, can be effective in reducing the desire.
For some people whose cravings are more than usual, it might be difficult to control them. Also, they may feel miserable without getting specific food. So in this case, it is preferable to take a small portion of the food that you are craving for. This will make you feel satisfied. But make sure that the portion you take is small and try to make yourself rewarded with this food after some workout or physical work. This will not affect the body much.
Engage yourself in more brain activities. This has two major reasons for reducing cravings. The first is that playing brain games can help to forget the crave as it generally lasts for some minutes. The other reason is that, by playing these brain games, you can sharpen your mind and may have better control of it. Then you can have the power of choosing what you ‘want’ and what you ‘need’.
Get engaged in physical work or exercise. The more you crave, do more physical work. After some time, you will feel no desire to have that.
Go for a healthy alternative! Identify what you are craving for and then try to find out what you can take as a healthy alternative.
So, by concluding we can say that cravings are natural to get, and as other functions of the body, it is regulated by our three brain parts. It’s more emotionally related than biologically and generally lasts for some duration. There are some tricks to get engaged in if you want to reduce your cravings up to some extent. These tricks may include training your mind to overcome the desire by strong will or physical activity at the time of craving. This is surely a need to get control of this to a craving for food as this may affect your ‘Healthy diet routine’ or your other daily work. So, try working on your cravings to get a “Perfect Healthy Life”.