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Defining food cravings
Let’s be honest, we all have experienced this strong feeling of having a particular food and after consuming it, we feel immense satisfaction and our mind becomes happy. In simple words, food craving is the desire which relates food with pleasure. Food makes us healthy and happy. It is related to our physical and emotional well-being. Studies have shown that almost every human on earth has experienced this desire and tend to overeat or dig into unhealthy food. It is possible to control or handle this desire by making right food choices.
Studies conducted on Food cravings
- Food craving is the mind game. Human brain is responsible for giving signals and making us eat more and unhealthy food. We will learn the bio science behind this in the next section
- This desire is more in women than men. Studies have shown that women tend to have intense food crave than men.
- Women are inclined to sweet food like chocolate while men are more into savory. When a study was conducted on the food type preferred on the basis of gender. It was found that women are mostly into sweet food like chocolates, ice creams, cookies etc. while men are into salty or savory snacks.
Why food cravings happen?
Let’s now understand the science behind these food cravings and who is responsible for it. There are so many studies conducted on this subject and it was found that the bacteria present in our gut triggers food cravings. Actually, there are two types of bacteria, good one and the bad one, both are billions in number present in our digestive system. Bad one releases toxin that affects one’s mood which triggers the desire to have particular type of food which most of the times is for unhealthy or junk food.
One of the study says that the toxins produced by bad bacteria in gut hijacks the vagus nerve through which the gut and the brain communicates. This could result in good or poor food eating habits. Food cravings can be controlled by increasing the number of good bacteria like probiotics and prebiotics in your gut, that can combat the effect of bad bacteria and hence the negative food cravings. This good bacteria not only helps in reducing negative food cravings but also builds strong immunity, enhances mood and make your digestive system healthy. Probiotic good bacteria are found in foods like Yogurt or can be taken oral supplement. however prebiotic good bacteria are found in fruits and vegetables which are non-digestible foods and act as food for the probiotics.
Good and Bad effects of food cravings
Can food cravings be good? Answer is yes, if you make proper and right food choices. Why is it bad? Because it is responsible for overeating and consumption of unhealthy food. As we have already discussed above that when your body requires a particular kind of nutrient, your mind starts sending signals to eat the food which has that nutrient. These signals are food cravings. So, food cravings actually tell you that your body is lacking some essential elements which is good, listen to them and eat what is best for your body and mind.
For example, chocolate could be beneficial for you since it provides Magnesium. But over consumption of chocolate can be harmful. Instead, you can have a small piece of dark chocolate which doesn’t have any added sugar or processing. You will not only satisfy your crave but also, taking nutrients in the right form. We are going to understand the real craving and how to make better food choices, in the below section.
Understanding the real craving
When you feel a sudden desire to consume a particular kind of food, it is very much possible that your body is lacking some essential nutrients. It is important to understand the real craving and eat what is healthy and good for your body. For example, when you crave sugar, you think of desserts, milk chocolates, cookies, ice creams etc. which are processed foods and unhealthy for you. The real crave is of glucose, which can be fulfilled by eating a sweet fruit. Here are some more similar examples:
- Coffee: when you desire for a cup of coffee that means your body needs energy. When you have coffee, caffeine present in it gives you a kick and you feel awake and energized but that energy drains quickly and you crave for more.
- Fried food: when you crave for friend foods, they are not only good in taste but unhealthy too. The real crave is of healthy fats which can be found in avocados, ghee or homemade butter.
- Salty or Savory snacks: it is no surprise that when you visit your favorite grocery store, you tend to pick up on those crunchy salty and savory snacks. Your body is craving for sodium which can be found in salts. Here, it is important to stick with natural salts and do not over intake.
- Bread or pizza: it has happened with all of us that when we are crossing a bakery or a pizza shop, we feel like grabbing a whole loaf of bread or a big piece of pizza and satisfy our food craving. Amino acids is the real culprit here. You can get these from nuts, eggs and fish and save yourself from having unhealthy food.
- Frizzy or carbonated drinks: when you want to have a can of carbonated drink, your body is craving for water or possibly mineral. Buy a mineral water bottle and save yourself of having sugar overdose in carbonated drink.
Food cravings are the signs that your body is lacking some kind of nutrients. Best way to fight food cravings is to have a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. You should have all the essential nutrients in your everyday diet and try to live stress free. Understanding the exact reason of craving and then eat what is right and healthy is the key to good health and making right food choices.
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