A food craving is an intense desire for a specific food. We all experience cravings differently, but they are typically transient and often for processed foods that are high in sugar, salt and unhealthful fats. Food cravings can lead us to eat foods that have adverse health effects and can disrupt our efforts to follow healthful dietary habits.
Various factors can affect our food cravings, including: hormonal fluctuations across the menstrual cycle; the body requiring certain nutrients; our emotional states, such as in cases of comfort eating, and we may also experience food cravings seemingly out of nowhere, or they may be related to seeing, smelling, or hearing about a specific food e.g. seeing an advertisement for chocolate might trigger a craving for it. Also, the brain regions responsible for memory, pleasure and reward play a role in food cravings; as do imbalances of hormones, such as leptin and serotonin.
There are two types of food cravings:
1️) Selective cravings: Cravings for specific foods, such as our favourite chocolate bar, a particular burger from our favourite restaurant, or a bag of potato chips of a certain flavour.
2️) Nonselective cravings: The desire to eat anything. This may be the result of real hunger and hunger pangs, but it can also be a sign of thirst.
Cravings, like other sensations, come and go, and can be viewed as like an itch. The longer we ignore a small itch the more urgent and uncontrollable the need to scratch. It takes patience and self-compassion to learn how to listen and respond to cravings. It’s normal and natural to enjoy foods with sugar, and our bodies are hardwired to be dependent on carbohydrates as well as fat and protein for fuel.
It is so important to enjoy the food we eat. I don’t believe in restrictions or diets as I love all food! I like experimenting with healthier options of foods as I feel better after eating them rather than consuming heavily processed foods. I believe that enjoyment, moderation and including foods that don’t just taste good BUT also make us feel good are key in developing a healthful and delicious relationship with food!