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Controlling Cravings


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Cravings...those pesky little things that test your healthy eating willpower. While inconvenient and sometimes overwhelming, cravings are actually so much more than a subtle annoyance. In fact, some people describe cravings as completely unbearable and impossible to resist. Others simply ignore their cravings and move on with their day. The difference is not just willpower; the difference can be found in the strength of the craving itself and what is causing it.

How would you describe your cravings? Are they subtle and easily dismissed? Or do they consume your thoughts and drive you to give into them? Or maybe yours fall somewhere in the middle? The real key is determining why you are plagued with cravings and what to do about them. For instance, some individuals crave sweets when following a low-carbohydrate diet. This is simply their body's way of letting them know that they've taken their carbohydrate intake a bit too low. An easy fix would be to add in some complex carbohydrates to the diet. In other cases, cravings are not due to any sort of deficiency, but rather from excessive consumption.

Let's dive into some types of cravings and possible reasons for why you might be experiencing them:

Craving Sweets
Diet too low or too rich in carbohydrates
Lack of sleep or energy
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Habit
Boredom
Emotional eating
Hormonal fluctuation or imbalance
Low blood sugar
Excessive exercise leading to glycogen depletion

Craving Fats
Diet too low or too rich in fats
Lack of calories
Blood sugar fluctuations
Essential Fatty Acid deficiencies
Habit
Boredom

Craving Meat
Diet too low in protein
Chronic protein deficiency
Excessive weight-bearing exercise

As you can see, there are many reasons that may be the underlying causes for your cravings for certain foods. Note that cravings should not be in the same category as hunger. True hunger is a result of caloric depletion during a routine eating schedule. Whereas cravings are pangs for certain nutrients or types of foods regardless of whether the body is in a caloric surplus or deficit.

How do we balance this all out? Moderation and balanced diet. If we consume the proper amounts of each type of food and nutrients, then cravings will be lessened. It is when we consume too little or too much of one type of food that we end up with cravings, so it's important to be mindful of the nutrients you're putting into your body! 

Melissa Stoner R.D., R.D.N., C.P.T.

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