Cravings, Chemicals and Addictions
When the craving for our favourite pick-me-up hits, we often do anything we can in order to take our mind of it. However, studies are now beginning to show that this will have the opposite effect.
What if we were to tell you not to think about a pink elephant?
You’re picturing a pink elephant aren’t you?
The same reaction is given when we tell ourselves not to think about that chocolate bar we have stashed away.
It is well known that interest in food diminishes once we begin eating it – your desire for the food in question is lessened by the seventh bite in comparison to the first. Therefore, if you were to imagine yourself eating the desired food, then your craving will begin to decrease. Imagining eating it requires concentration, actively thinking about chewing, swallow and tasting, and this should be repeated up to 30 times, or until you can feel your cravings diminish.
There are four main reasons why we snack:
- 75% to satisfy a craving
- 64% to improve mood
- 53% as reward
- 44% to reduce stress
The foods we enjoy create positive memories, and the more we eat of them, the more this positive memory is strengthened. Once these memories are firmly embedded, they begin to enter our conscious mind, making them extremely difficult to ignore. These memories can also be triggered by a number of factors such as smells, places, people or feelings.
Are we craving because we’re addicted?
A number of studies have concluded that both sugar and fat stimulate the reward centres in the brain. Your brain will then recognise that certain foods is what it needs in order to feel this stimulation – this is when the cravings kick in.
Feed The Craving Healthfully
There are a number of situations in which we frequently experience cravings. Here we explain how to combat these situations with healthy replacements.
Many of us will reach for the biscuits or crisps when breakfast is long gone and lunch seems just that little bit too far in the future.
Replace with: Unsalted nuts and seeds
When you are travelling, it can often be difficult to find a snack that isn’t filled with fat or sugar. To combat this, you need to be prepared and take something with you!
Replace with: Fresh fruit such as an apple or orange.
This situation is frequently played out in the comfort of your own home, probably sat in front of the television.
Replace with: Vegetable sticks and hummus. Chop us cucumber, celery, carrots, peppers etc, for a crunchy snack that will satisfy the munchies.
Sometimes all you really crave is that sweet, sugar fix. It doesn’t seem to matter where or when!
Replace with: A glass/bottle of sparkling water with a squeeze of lime and a sprig of fresh mint – give it a stir or a shake and you’re ready to go.