Food cravings and lifestyle disorders

Ever felt the insatiable desire to have a particular food, say Gulab jamun or cake or a pizza? No matter what you eat, you just cannot get rid of that feeling, unless you eat it. That feeling is known as food craving. A common tendency noticed among a lot of people is the craving for sugary or high-fat foods.

Why do we crave such food, out of nowhere?

The reason for such cravings can be different from person to person. The reason could be mental or physical, with a reason or for no reason at all. Here are 7 reasons why we get food cravings:

1. Stress:

Remember the time when you gobbled down an entire pizza? Or the time when you were craving something salty or some sort of comfort food? A common reason why our bodies crave salty food is due to stress. As a coping mechanism to stress, we tend to seek comfort in the form of food. And it is no major science that consumption of salty foods can result in weight gain.

2. Hormonal imbalance:

Our bodies produce hormones such as leptin and ghrelin that are referred to as ‘fullness hormones’. When we face intense craving for foods, it could also mean that there is an imbalance in leptin and ghrelin levels in our bodies.

3. Deficiency:

Sometimes our bodies are just trying to tell us that it is lacking a few nutrients. This signal is also received in the form of food cravings. For example, when we crave foods like bread, it could be due to low nitrogen levels in the body. Even craving chocolates could mean that your body is lacking magnesium.

4. Imbalanced diet:

A balanced diet consists of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and fibers in the right proportion. Often we miss out on consuming the required levels of protein, which also gives us a feeling of fullness apart from helping in building muscles. Due to the lack of protein in our diet, we often feel hungry even after our meals.

5. Mood swings:

We are no strangers to mood swings. Every person goes through them, only a select few know how to properly deal with them. The rest of us? We turn to the best external coping mechanism there is – food. Depending on moods, our bodies crave different foods. For instance, when we are sad, we crave for something sweet like ice cream or chocolates.

6. Dehydration:

When your body is not properly hydrated, it can cause you to crave food. Your body will crave salty foods because salt helps retain water in the body, thereby helping to maintain water levels in your body.

7. PMS:

During PMS, a woman’s body goes through changes in hormone levels. The increase and decrease caused in estrogen and progesterone levels in the body induce cravings of high carbohydrate foods.

It is important to fulfill your food cravings, but mindlessly giving in to every craving can be more detrimental than you can think. Satiating every food craving could cause various health issues, but most importantly, lead to lifestyle disorders.

What is a lifestyle disorder?

The diseases that are caused due to leading a bad and unhealthy lifestyle are termed are lifestyle disorders. Some of the lifestyle disorders include 7 :

  • Heart diseases
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Arteriosclerosis

What are the common causes of lifestyle disorders?

  • Overeating
  • Consumption of unhealthy food
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Stress
  • Improper sleep
  • Alcohol and cigarettes

But here comes a dilemma.

What if your body is craving food due to a genuine reason like deficiency of nutrients or dehydration?
How can you fulfill such food cravings in a way that does not lead to lifestyle disorders?
Don’t worry. We’ll tell you how.

1. Hydrate:

Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Be it a warm summer day or a cold winter night. Your body requires at least 3-4 litres of water every day. Not hydrating enough can lead to improper digestion, non-flushing of toxins outside the body, and of course craving for high salt foods.

2. Get enough sleep:

Lack of sleep causes fatigue, irritability, mood swings and also leads to long-term health disorders. Getting an ample amount of sleep helps to rest your body adequately, feel refreshed, and be free of mood swings. It keeps your mind calm and free of stress.

3. Switch to natural foods:

When craving sugary foods, switch to eating fruits as they consist of natural sugars and fructose that are good for your body. It also helps you to avoid excessive calorie intake because consuming whole and natural foods can be a bit boring and more filling compared to eating processed foods.

4. Lifestyle changes:

Making changes in lifestyle is significant in staying away from lifestyle disorders, after all, they are called lifestyle disorders for a reason. Exercise regularly, have a balanced diet, and go slow in making these changes. Making any abrupt changes can lead you right back to where you started.

5. Add proteins to your diet:

Proteins should form an important part of your diet. Adding proteins to your diet is not only beneficial from a nutrition perspective but also satiates hunger and gives you a feeling of fullness.

6. Choose healthier options:

Sometimes binge-eating goes out of hand, no matter how hard we try. The trick here is to choose healthier options. For instance, when you are craving chips, switch to kale chips or baked chips that do not contain oil.

Food cravings are normal. It is actually more common than you think, and you are not alone. But that does not in any way mean we should give in to each and every food craving. Or maybe you could – intelligently. The next time you have a food craving, try to figure out the trigger and manage it effectively. By doing so, you will be one step ahead on a path away from lifestyle disorders.