Did you ever wonder why you get cravings and why these cravings can be so overpowering they prevent you from sticking to your nutrition plan? There are four key reasons for cravings.
1. Dopamine response
You may have heard someone say they’re addicted to sugar or you may even be addicted to sugar. Sugar can cause a dopamine response, just like it can with things like alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. This can cause a neurochemical and biochemical response in the body, therefore attributing to cravings. Think of it as a feed-forward mechanism.
2. Gut bacteria
We have a trillion different bacteria in our gut that all like different things like fiber, carbohydrates, and fat. When we don’t give them what they want they get pissed off. These specific bacteria are, in essence, seeking out certain foods so it’s important that we have a diverse healthy diet filled with lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients. If we feed it with exactly what it needs and wants, we won’t have cravings for other things, perhaps like carbohydrates, salt, or sugar.
You may go hours and hours without eating and without checking in with your body, and then all of a sudden, you are starving. This is a perfect example of how your habits and not being internally aware of what you need can attribute to your poor eating habits and choices. This will impact the cravings that you have for sugar, carbohydrates, and energy-rich foods that are giving you a quick burst of energy because you have let the tank stay empty way too long.
4. Blood sugar
This is really imperative in making sure that you are decreasing cravings. Let’s start with the basics. Every four to six hours you should be eating unless you are hungry. Now there are some exceptions if you are doing intermittent fasting. If there is already some existing blood sugar dysregulation, that would mean that you probably have to eat a little bit sooner than that, but ultimately that is our goal. Now to do that, we have to have a balance of nutrients; protein, healthy fat, and a fiber source. If we’re getting these balanced meals every four to six hours, then we should be able to keep our blood sugar stabilized. If you happen to just wake up, eat a bunch of sugar and carbohydrates such as oatmeal with honey and blueberries, your blood sugar is going to go way up, and then crash down. Then, you will crave carbohydrates. So, make sure you are consistently incorporating protein, fat, and a fiber source in each of your meals to optimize your blood sugar control and prevent cravings.
In essence, being able to regulate cravings is within your control 100 percent. There are lots of ways to address it. Even if you have some preexisting health conditions, like insulin resistance, dysregulation of your blood sugars, etc.; this could impact your cravings. However, try to work on these key fundamental things so that you can decrease your cravings and ultimately feel your best.
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