Cravings is a common phenomenon. In this article, we'll show you what You can do against cravings and the associated binge eating.
Everyone knows the feeling of cravings. Cravings not only come suddenly and completely unexpectedly - it also forces you to nibble on unhealthy foods. First and foremost, we use sweets in order to satisfy our cravings as quickly as possible and to quickly induce a feeling of satiety. One piece of chocolate can't do any harm, you think to yourself. One piece turns into two or three and before you know it, you've already eaten the whole bar. Then comes the guilty conscience because you know the calories will land on your hips. You will see: stopping binge eating is not that easy, but it is also not impossible.
What is food cravings?
Cravings appear suddenly and completely unexpectedly. Cravings not only mean a strong feeling of hunger, but also an extreme craving for certain foods that satiate quickly and satisfy your cravings quickly. And that even though your body doesn't actually need any nutrients.
Healthy foods do not play a role in a feeding flash. What you want when you suddenly have cravings is less nutritious, but incredibly sweet and incredibly filling.
Sweets are actually the most commonly eaten during a classic binge eating. But what actually makes you suddenly eat unhealthy food and change your eating behavior?
How does cravings arise?
In the case of cravings and a binge eating, physical causes are often possible, for example if you haven't eaten for a long time and your blood sugar level is in the basement. As soon as you have hypoglycaemia, you feel bad.
You are unfocused, irritable, hungry and shiver all over your body because of the feeling of hunger. Due to the hypoglycemia, you can no longer think clearly, your body literally screams for sweet food in order to raise the blood sugar level as quickly as possible.
However, cravings can also be psychological in nature, for example when it is particularly stressful or when you get bad news. Many people instinctively nibble on chocolate at these moments because it simply makes us happy and quickly makes us feel hungry. But why actually?
The amino acid is essential for the feeling of happiness and satiety L-Tryptophan responsible, which is in the chocolate, more precisely in cocoa. L-tryptophan, in turn, is the raw material for the happiness hormone serotonin, which puts you in a good mood and makes stressful moments disappear.
Just as food is a basic need, it is also in our nature to be happy and to achieve that state of happiness. For this reason, we always eat chocolate when we are physically and mentally unwell and we want to satisfy our cravings as quickly as possible. dopamine and serotonin, two of the most important hormones in our body, play a big role in this.1 How you can naturally use food Increase serotonin levels you can also find out in the Academy.
Cravings Causes: Which factors can promote binge eating?
We have now clarified that cravings are always completely unexpected. But what are the causes that suddenly come over us with a strong craving for unhealthy food? Is it in our nature or do other factors play a role?
1. Cravings through conditioning
When you hear the term conditioning, you might think of Pavlov and the classic conditioning of dogs. However, conditioning is much more than triggering a salivary reflex through a specific stimulus.
We differentiate between:
- classical conditioning (Pavlov)
- instrumental conditioning (Thorndike)
- operant conditioning (Skinner)
Conditioning is generally a learning process. The learned behavior is strengthened when we repeat the stimulus-reaction pattern over and over again. Cravings is a good example: it mostly makes you eat unhealthy meals.
In times of hypoglycaemia, you don't want low-calorie whole grain products - you just want chocolate or other unhealthy foods to satisfy your cravings as quickly as possible. If you feel hungry, you don't care that sweet and greasy foods have a lot of calories. The only thing that matters is that your cravings and hunger go away quickly and that you immediately feel better afterwards.
This pleasant effect increases the appetite for sweets, so that you always reach for chocolate when you have cravings, feel bad or when you are stressed.
What increases the cravings?
Cravings can have many causes. Often this is in our brain, in the so-called ventral striatium. Basal ganglia (core areas of the endbrain) that belong to the cerebrum are called the striatium. When you eat something particularly tasty, dopamine is released in this area. Above all, fat, sugar and salt are responsible for this output.2, 3
When you eat sweet things, the physical symptoms associated with low blood sugar levels in hypoglycaemia subside quickly. You feel better quickly, you are focused again and - this is particularly often the case - you feel an intense feeling of happiness.
So your brain releases dopamine whenever you eat fatty, salty, or sweet foods. But why do we have such strong cravings to change our eating habits?
Unfortunately, dopamine also ensures that the desire for the next dopamine output increases. This also makes eating attacks more likely. Since you feel better every time you eat a certain food, your body also releases dopamine every time, which is why the probability is very high that you will resort to sweets or candy again the next time you eat a binge. This process is quickly anchored in the brain and is difficult to contain.
Did you know that your brain not only reacts to sweet things, but also to salty and fatty foods? In the event of a binge eating, it may well be that you want to satisfy your cravings with currywurst or french fries.
Basically, the more sugar, fat or salt a food contains, the more dopamine your brain releases, which in turn can lead to a stronger cravings attack and increase the desire for bad food.4, 5
The food industry has taken advantage of this fact by fortifying many products with sugar, salt or fat in order to influence our sense of taste and our eating behavior.
2. Food cravings
As you can see, some foods can fuel your cravings. This is especially true for sweet, salty and fatty foods, which you then prefer to use. For this reason, you should consciously avoid foods that are high in content
- saturated fat
- flavor enhancers
This is especially true of ready-made products and snacks, but white bread, juices and other soft drinks can also contain a lot of sugar, which can cause your blood sugar level to rise sharply. Since it drops just as quickly after a short time, you react with cravings in order to stabilize your blood sugar level as quickly as possible.
Instead, resort to other foods to get the cravings under control:
- whole grain products
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- unsweetened drinks and fruit juices
For example, sweetener is a good alternative to conventional table sugar because it is very low in calories. It is worth taking a look at the nutritional table in order to avoid foods with particularly high levels of saturated fat, sugar and salt.6
For example, most finished products contain many flavor enhancers and artificial flavorings that intensify the taste. This is often the reason why fresh, untreated foods often taste "bland" and "boring".
But don't worry: you don't have to demonize fat and salt right away. On the contrary: you actually need them - albeit in high quality and, depending on your diet, in a limited amount.
And one more thing: For a better feeling of satiety, you should chew your food thoroughly and not allow yourself to be distracted. By not allowing yourself to be distracted and by focusing fully on your food, you train your taste buds so that healthy foods no longer taste so boring. Thorough chewing also has the advantage that you don't gulp down your food so quickly and you are more likely to be full.
3. Cravings due to radical diets
Diets are a dime a dozen. Most promise maximum fat loss in the shortest possible time. That is why they forbid certain foods in order to achieve the best possible success and the greatest possible calorie deficit.
However, radical diets have one major disadvantage: They are not only one-sided and a huge change for your body - they also increase the risk of cravings because you have to do without something. Refraining from it inevitably leads to a binge of eating, which you - as you already know - try to compensate with foods that are high in sugar and fat and thus gain weight rather than lose weight.
With an extreme low-carb diet, for example, you have to limit the intake of carbohydrates very much. Your body quickly declares a state of emergency and reacts with hunger and a strong desire for high-calorie foods. The stronger the change, the more your body will feel like sweets.
If you have overestimated yourself and give in to the feeling, you will resort to foods rich in carbohydrates again or satisfy your cravings with other products that contain fat and sugar. These in turn lead to cravings as soon as your insulin level drops. A vicious circle begins that makes you gain weight and makes you more and more frustrated.
Our tip for food cravings:
To make food cravings a thing of the past, we recommend that you change your diet gradually. Because as you can see, radical diets lead to a dead end for many people. Perhaps an experienced nutritionist can also help you prevent cravings and help you with the selection and composition of foods and suggest possible nutritional strategies.
Fiber is a valuable tip that can help you avoid food cravings. Dietary fiber is indigestible food components that are found almost exclusively in plant-based foods, especially in legumes and vegetables.
Fiber has a big advantage: it swells up in the stomach so that your body gives you the signal to be full. The feeling of hunger is slowed down for a longer period of time so that you do not have to worry about cravings.
In addition, vegetables are low in calories and at the same time have a high proportion of essential vitamins and minerals. So fiber is not only a tried and tested remedy for those annoying food cravings - it is also healthy.
4. Food cravings from stress
In addition to the physical causes, such as a drop in the insulin level, the psyche plays an equally important role as the trigger for food cravings.
For example, if you are very stressed, sad, irritable or angry, you are more likely to resort to sugar or fatty foods than if you are relaxed and balanced. This behavior of being able to deal better with negative emotions is also known as a coping strategy.
Avoiding food cravings, however, is not that easy. Here it is important to actively deal with your negative emotions and stress and to find a solution to your problem.
Have a look at our academy. There we will show you how you can
- Reduce stress,
- promote healthy sleep and prevent sleep deprivation,
- one Burnout prevent,
can. If these strategies don't help, you could also try an ashwagandha or reishi extract supplement. Ashwagandha (Indian ginseng), for example, is an herb that is used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat stress and sleep problems (lack of sleep).
Reishi - a medicinal mushroom that can improve oxygen absorption and reduce stress - also helps against stress.
Are there any other ways to counter cravings?
Cravings are annoying - especially if you want to lose weight. Especially when it comes to the topic of "losing weight", many people turn to fat burners to stimulate fat burning. However, the dietary supplements may contain stimulants designed to curb appetite.
These stimulants are similar to adrenaline, which ensures that blood is diverted from the digestive tract in a dangerous situation in order to improve responsiveness in an escape or a fight.
A good example is caffeine. It is found in many fat burners because it increases adrenaline levels. This leads to better energy expenditure, which in turn can accelerate fat burning. A strong coffee can not only help you lose weight - it can also curb your cravings.
Still, you should be careful with coffee. There is no point in drinking excessive coffee all day as your body gets used to the caffeine it contains. However, if you want to dampen your hunger and delay the next meal a little longer, a small coffee (espresso, for example) can work wonders in between.
Unfortunately, many people also resort to other stimulants such as ephedrine, synephrine, and yohimbine to temporarily support the diet. In contrast to coffee, these substances are considered to be powerful appetite suppressants, which are accompanied by strong side effects that can be harmful to your health. That is why most stimulants are banned in Germany for a reason.
For this reason we would like to warn very clearly against fat burners because, with the exception of the prohibited substances, they could not achieve any significant effect and the price is therefore not justified.
Our tip against food cravings:
What we would like to give you on the way is a simple home remedy for food cravings. Nutritionalcoach George Lockhardt, who knows the cause and effect of food cravings, often uses it for his athletes (including mixed martial arts fighter Conor McGregor) to control food cravings.
The home remedy is as effective as it is simple. Instead of grabbing something sweet when you have a cravings attack, stir a teaspoon of cinnamon into a glass of warm water and drink it immediately. Cinnamon helps you regulate your blood sugar level and curb cravings for sweets, gummy bears and chocolate.
However, not all cinnamon is created equal. Especially if you use it more often, you should pay attention to the type of cinnamon. We would advise against cassia cinnamon because this variety contains coumarin, which in high doses can have a negative impact on your health. Ceylon cinnamon, which contains significantly less coumarin, is better.
Cravings are a perfectly normal response to physical and psychological stress (stress and lack of sleep), an unhealthy lifestyle and an unbalanced diet. By changing your eating habits and meals, swapping sweet, fatty and processed foods such as chocolate, gummy bears, ready-made products, fast food and white bread for healthy ones, chewing longer and not getting distracted while eating, the cravings will no longer show up as quickly .