You know the feeling: when you’ve eaten dinner but still want something sweet? Yep, that’s a craving.
Or when it’s 4pm and your steely resolve from this morning has dissipated and all you can think about is those Hobnobs in the office cookie jar? It’s a craving!
To fully understand how we can get a handle on our cravings, firstly we need to understand what they are.
We have two different parts to the brain when it comes to hunger – the liking and the wanting brain. The wanting brain needs nutrients and nourishment. Our liking brain is associated with dopamine – our feel good hormone. This part of the brain responds to pleasure, and is satisfied by our enjoyment of food. So if you were eating a bar that contained your exact calorie requirement and nutrients you needed that day but tasted like dirt – you would still be hungry. More specifically you would experience that hunger as a craving.
Cravings occur when there’s something we’re either not feeding in ourselves emotionally, when our hunger levels get too high, or if we aren’t gaining any pleasure from our diet.
When you next experience a craving ask yourself these questions:
- Are you hungry?
- Are you angry, upset, lonely or bored?
- Is there something else that you could do which would satisfy that need – for example, if you’re stressed ask yourself if talking to a friend would help more than burying your head in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
A lot of the time we eat out of boredom – which is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about. To combat this, I suggest keeping your work and home environment free of the foods that make it impossible to have just the one – I know I only have a limited amount of willpower, and if there’s Green and Black’s butterscotch in the house, it doesn’t stand a chance (sorry Dad.)
Make your life easier and replace your cupboards and drawers with oatcakes, nut butters, veggies and fruit so that when hunger does strike you’re sorted.
What’s your fail-safe method when you feel a 4pm snack attack rear its head?