Food cravings, don’t we just hate them!? Particularly if you, like me, have made a vow to start eating healthier, then you’ll already know just how much of a pain these tempting, but sinful snacks can be.
They are truly frustrating and more often than not, they come to mind like a bolt from the blue. For me, this predominantly and unfortunately happens during work hours.
Being in an office where food is often the subject of conversation, you can imagine how this plays on my mind. My mouth is often watering, stomach is rumbling and a lack of concentration occurs. It sounds a lot like the signals for hunger though, doesn’t it?
And this is often a pivotal mistake that individuals make. It is a common misconception that hunger and cravings are the same, but by learning the differences between the two, we are able to make better food choices as a result.
The differences? Let’s take a look…
By definition, hunger is ‘The discomfort, weakness, or pain caused by a prolonged lack of food’. So, in short, hunger is your body’s means of letting you know that you need food. Healthy, nutritious food that will allow us to function properly throughout the day.
There are a number of physical signals in which to look out for, as these let us know when our body requires food for energy. The stomach may start to growl, feel empty or endure ‘hunger pangs’. The brain however, may send signals such as headaches, irritability, agitation or fatigue.
When assessing how hungry you are, why not use our Hunger Scale to help you determine what and how much to eat. It really does help!
Emotions usually trigger cravings, like boredom, stress and sadness. But also, being in close proximity to food or having a likeness for a certain type of food may also prompt these cravings to arise.
More often than not, we’re yearning for high calorie and high fat foods. And because we’re not physically hungry, resisting the urge will play an important role in weight management and our overall health.
So maintain the willpower and say no!
In a nutshell, the survey revealed that the majority of the population in Britain struggles to resist the temptation of their cravings. But as discovered, there are many reasons to why individuals surrender to these callings for food.
As the study investigated further, it unearthed that the main reasons to why people give in to their cravings were because it makes them feel good, fuels their boredom, they haven’t got the willpower to say no and are unaware of healthier alternatives.
But I believe that if we are aware of healthier choices, we will be able to banish these unhealthy food cravings from our diet almost completely. And so, to help and provide more of an insight, we produced the following infographic as a result.
It shows that although we believe we want a certain food, what the brain is actually calling for is its nutrients. So the next time chocolate is on your mind, opt for a handful of almonds instead!
Planning and preparing healthy substitutes beforehand is a fantastic way to conquer your cravings and over-indulging. I know firsthand that it’s easy to overeat. But by understanding the term ‘satiety’, you will be able to control what you eat, thus enabling you to cut back on those unwanted calories.
Satiety is the feeling of fullness after a meal. The more ‘satiated’ we feel, the longer we are likely to go without eating and this is why it can play in important role in controlling our diet. Some tips to bear-in-mind to increase satiety are:
- Opt for high protein foods. These make us fuller than foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates. High protein foods include lean meats, seafood, eggs, nuts & seeds, and low fat dairy.
- Include more natural dietary fibre foods, as these will enhance fullness. It plays a key role in digestive health too. Incorporate wholegrains, brown rice, nuts, almonds, dried fruit, beans, chickpeas and lentils into your meals.
- Drink more water.
While I know it’ll be tough to kick all cravings out of our diets completely, I believe that by becoming aware of healthier alternatives to junk food, we will all soon be able to transform our eating habits for the better.