Do you find yourself craving salty crisps halfway through the morning, dreaming of pizza late at night or desperately fighting the urge to hit the vending machine for a bar of chocolate at 4pm?
There is nothing uncommon about insatiable food cravings but just why are they so powerful and what can we do to curb them?
What is it about chocolate that makes it so irresistible?
Chocolate is associated with undiluted pleasure and reward, so if you’ve been working too hard or suffering in any way, it’s a way to emotionally self-medicate. This is especially true for those who are experiencing relationship disappointments, as chocolate sooths those desires to be loved and accepted.
Chocolate contains mood- and energy-altering feel-good chemicals, such as PEA, which is the same chemical that your brain secretes when you’re newly in romantic love. This drug is very similar to the controlled substance, Ecstacy, which turns mortal enemies into friends. So chocolate is truly a “love drug.”
You can get the pleasure-center rush by inhaling the fragrance of nuts, including fresh coffee. Eating raw almonds can also yield some of the textures, fats, and minerals that lead to chocolate cravings. Mostly though, chocolate cravings can be lessened by taking steps to feel loved and emotionally fulfilled. For instance, spend time with good friends; take good care of your relationships; indulge yourself with gifts, pedicures, relaxation time, and positive self-talk; and create gentle and positive work and home environments.
What makes us want to eat salty snacks and foods - and why?
Our bodies seek a homeostasis of the blood-to-salt ratios in our bodies. If we stop eating salt, our bodies react by expelling water so we can maintain those same ratios. This mechanism is deadly accurate - if we completely eliminated sodium from our diets, eventually we would die of dehydration. We need salt for survival. Most salty and savoury foods are crunchy, which is a texture we crave when we’re stressed, angry, or anxious. This innate animal-like desire to chew must be satisfied, which is one reason why people don’t stay on liquid diets for very long.
Avoid salt-free diets so that your body doesn’t need to crave it. And the best way to avoid crunchy junk food cravings is through reducing or managing the stress in your life. For example, daily cardiovascular exercise such as fast walking or jogging can increase your tolerance of a stressful job.
Or learning to say
“No” to unreasonable demands upon your time can give you more time to relax and enjoy your life. If you still feel the need to crunch, choose healthful alternatives like celery or carrots with low-fat salad dressing or a handful of raw organic almonds.
Why do we crave sugar and what makes it so irresistible to resist?
Preferences for sweets are often learned, because we were often rewarded for good behavior in childhood with a candy treat. If you experience overwhelming cravings for cookies, cakes, or pie, you may want to think back to childhood experiences where you may have been rewarded with these foods.
This is not an attempt to blame the adults in your life. Instead, it’s a means of trying to understand your cravings in order to reduce or eliminate them. Reward yourself with nonfood treats. Since some of our sugar cravings stem from the childhood message that “sweets equal rewards.”