Equal Opportunity Tormentor
Most people think that only women have food cravings. While men and women do tend to crave different foods, both fight this battle. Men tend to crave more savory foods and women tend to crave high fat, sugary desserts. An excess of calories is equally detrimental to both since it results in too much body fat, so it’s important to understand how we can curb those cravings.
There are different schools of thought regarding the causes of food cravings, including physical and psychological needs. It’s only logical that stress can make us crave simple carbs in the form of cake, cookies and other sugary desserts. When we are stressed out, our bodies produce cortisol, an adrenaline-linked hormone that makes us able to do amazing things. Because we have this energy producing hormone raging in our bloodstream all the time, when we live with chronic stress, we will crave sugar because it’s a quick source of calories that are easily utilized by our bodies. The stress-induced cortisol release demands fuel, and our brain causes us to go for the quickest, most concentrated form of energy available. Unfortunately, in most parts of the world, that’s sugar.
(Try this healthy pumpkin pie at the link below!)
While there may be nutritional deficiencies that drive some cravings, that is probably not the case very often. Memories that link desserts to comfort, security and love are able to induce cravings for favorite desserts from our childhood. Good times and good friends gathered around the dinner table with the highlight of the evening being dessert, program our minds that we have to have dessert to enjoy life. When we’re feeling lonely or blue, dessert will seem like the answer to everything.
Some people always want a “reason” to crave sweets. The most obvious answer to this dilemma is the simple truth that we are born with a preference for the sweet taste. I’ve never known anyone who didn’t like something sweet. Since I don’t eat sugar, I don’t crave sweets but I do like the taste of a Brown Swerve sweetened , steamy bowl of oats with flax, chia and hemp seeds. I use “no sugar added” water enhancers to flavor full-fat Greek yogurt because it cuts the natural tartness of the yogurt and imparts a sweet fruity flavor.
We don’t need a reason to crave something. I believe that most of the time the origin of our cravings is the simple fact that we like it. I worked in a hospital nursery one time. We were told that babies would never want plain water again after they tasted the sugar water that they were given shortly after birth. That was true. I well remember the little guys turning their heads away from plain water once they had tasted the sugar water. Before they had tasted it, they greedily drank water like it was the most wonderful thing in the world. Sugar changed that. They would cry for the sugar water as if they craved it. Sugar lights up the same parts of the brain as some addictive drugs, and theirs had been lit. The pattern of addiction was set.
Salt builds feel-good neurotransmitters and crunchy food is supposed to be a frustration/anger release valve. Whatever the reasons for food cravings, one thing is clear. In order to be healthy, we must learn how to prevent them, keep them to a minimum or to cope with them when they hit. Decreasing stress in our lives is imperative. We teach “Make Your World Small.” This is the act of removing people from our lives that have a negative impact on us. Living in “Drama Central” 24/7 will destroy our health in many ways. Increases in unhealthy food cravings is just one of them.
Just Say “No!” to Cravings
We also teach eating 0 added sugar. Sometimes people’s eyes bug out when they hear that, but sugar is a powerfully addictive substance. I will not engage in argument about this because I have lived it, and seen hundreds of others who live with this disabling addiction. As previously stated, sugar lights up the brain just like illegal, and legal, drugs that impart euphoria. Our brain wants to repeat that cycle so we crave it again and again. Add the predisposition to liking the taste of sugar to the mix and you have a dangerous situation when you indulge in sweets. That habit alone can destroy your health. To avoid sweet cravings, don’t eat sugar! It’s that simple. For a while, it will be hard but the day will come, IF you abstain completely, that you don’t crave it anymore. If you have been diagnosed with anything that your doctor believes would benefit from sugar, this is not true for you, but that is rare. We do not address any medical condition. We are talking strictly about cravings in a healthy person. ALWAYS see your physician before beginning any weight loss program.
Ways to Control Cravings!
A common mistake is going without eating. When we don’t eat enough, our blood sugar will fall and we will begin to crave a quick, concentrated source of calories. If you skip breakfast, don’t expect to be able to fend off the office food pusher. Doughnuts, coffee cake and cupcakes will seem like the answer to all of your problems when your stomach is empty and you’re starving. A bowl of oats takes about 5 minutes to prepare. Better yet, make overnight oats. A cup of full-fat yogurt with 0 added sugars will make a filling mid-morning snack. Don’t go around hungry!
I write a lot from personal experience. People may argue with scientific data, but when that data is combined with real-life experience, it’s hard to ignore. Since I have waged the war of health and fitness my entire life, I have learned a few things. If I eat ANY simple carbs in the form of added sugars or refined grains, I have cravings. I will also be hungry when I shouldn’t be according to the number of calories that I am eating. The science backs up my experience. These foods cause variations in insulin that trigger hunger and cravings. Stick to a healthy diet with NO added sugars or refined grains if you want to live free of cravings. Whether you agree or believe that or not is irrelevant. Those simple carbs have the ability to sabotage your best intentions. Try avoiding those foods and see the difference!
Sometimes it’s necessary to overhaul our friends list. If you associate with people who continually tempt you with your trigger foods, you need to realize that they are not your friends. They are people who are accustomed to having you around and you think that you can’t live without. The unfortunate truth is, if you continually associate with people who affect your health in a negative way, you cannot live WITH them. There are many people who have gone to the grave because of bad influences in their lives. We tend to think of bad influence as drugs or alcohol but nothing is more dangerous to your health over the course of a lifetime than “friends” who push buttercream frosting like cocaine. Don’t hang around with people who have zero desire to be healthy! They will constantly try to drag you down to their level of ill health and disability. The foods they eat will trigger cravings and make you miserable. It’s just not worth it.
If you find yourself surrounded by unhealthy foods that are calling your name, give them away quickly or throw them in the trash. I have dumped more doughnuts and cupcakes than most people see in a lifetime. Sooner or later, even saboteurs will get tired of seeing their most beloved health bombs going out the door with an unintended victim or in the garbage. Take charge of your environment to help curb cravings.
Stay On The Path
Make your lifestyle healthy with no deviation. Deviation causes cravings in every arena. When you are surrounded by only healthy food and health minded people, cravings all but disappear entirely. When the occasional thought of a warm cookie or sweet and creamy ice cream does hit, you will know what you can substitute for that. There are protein cookies with zero added sugars and no simple carbs. Ice cream with zero added sugar has become common. We have healthy dessert recipes here on the website that will satisfy the desire for dessert without causing cravings. Sugar Free Chocolate Cookies – David’s Way to Health and Fitness (davidsway.blog) Search your grocery store for healthy versions of your favorite foods. Read and study this website and learn about nutrition. Make being healthy your full-time job.
With focus and dedication you can live with no cravings. You have to decide what you want and then make the decisions to bring it about. If you want to quit craving sweets, quit eating added sugars. If you want to quit craving alcohol, don’t drink it. (Alcoholism is a serious medical issue. Make sure to be under the care of a medical doctor to withdraw from alcohol.) If you want to quit binge eating pizza, don’t order it. When all is said and done, we really do create our own reality. Create a good one.
Create your life.