In the morning there is cereal with fruit, during the lunch break a salad and in the evening fish and vegetables. But two hours later the cravings for chocolate, the desire for crisps or the craving for cheese - what's up with this unhealthy cravings? Food cravings are a common reason for the failure of diets. The body signals its need for energy replenishment. But even mental factors or certain diseases can be behind cravings. We have compiled and presented an overview of possible causes for you Tips on what to do about cravings.
What is cravings?
Many people know the "sudden urge for immediate food intake" - so the Definition of cravings. The body reports that it needs carbohydrates when the blood sugar level drops. In fact, cravings are a vital signal that is supposed to secure the body's energy intake.
However, controlling hunger and satiety is a complex system involving many different hormones and centers in the brain. So many factors can influence the regulation and contribute to the emergence of cravings.
What causes cravings?
The blood sugar level is controlled by the hormone insulin, among others. Dietary carbohydrates are broken down into glucose (glucose) in the digestive system and absorbed into the blood. Insulin then ensures that the cells absorb glucose and thus convert it into energy.
As a result, the blood sugar level drops, causing the body to go hungry again. The faster the blood sugar drops, the more intense the feeling of hunger. Thus is Cravings the result of a rapidly falling blood sugar level.
Sugar promotes cravings
"Simple" carbohydrates such as in table sugar (sucrose) or white flour can be rapidly broken down into glucose and therefore provide a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Due to the subsequent strong insulin secretion, the blood sugar level drops but also quickly.
After a croissant with jam, therefore, often cravings soon after. Complex carbohydrates from whole-grain products, however, degraded more slowly and thus make longer full. The fact that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or saccharin promote cravings, incidentally, could not be proven so far.
With sweetener against cravings?
Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or saccharin have the reputation to promote cravings. This is based on older studies that were based on animal experiments and so far could not be confirmed for humans.
The natural sugar substitute Xylitol (birch sugar) On the other hand, it may counteract food cravings, as it affects blood sugar levels to a lesser extent than table sugar. In addition, xylitol provides 40 percent less calories than sugar and can be a sensible alternative in weight loss.
Cravings while losing weight
The renunciation of carbohydrates can also lead to cravings. For example, in the context of a low-carb diet, there is often a craving for sweets. The reason for this is also a low blood sugar level.
In addition, in most diets certain foods are taboo: cravings for these foods is then usually the result of the psychological craving for forbidden.
Diabetes: cravings as a warning sign
Diabetics are particularly at risk for low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), because they do not work properly in the body's hormonal control of blood sugar. An accidentally high dose of insulin, unwanted exercise or too little carbohydrate can then quickly lead to a dangerously low blood sugar level.
Cravings can then be a sign of low blood sugar. In addition, dizziness, tremors, sweats, palpitations, and a feeling of weakness can be symptoms of low blood sugar. Diabetics should therefore always carry some grape sugar when possible.
Cravings: 9 possible causes
Behind cravings can be both harmless and pathological causes stuck. We have put together an overview for you:
- hormone fluctuations during a pregnancy or before the period can cause cravings. Some pregnant women also feel like unusual combinations of food or appetite for food that they did not like before.
- at lack of sleep In the body, appetite-promoting hormones are increasingly formed. Too little sleep can therefore foster food cravings and in the long run obesity.
- alcohol inhibits the supply of sugar from the memory of the liver and may thus lead to a decrease in blood sugar levels. Since alcohol also promotes the excretion of salt, it comes after excessive consumption of alcohol often cravings for salty, such as meat or chips.
- In patients with migraine cravings can be a harbinger or a migraine attack. It used to be thought that chocolate or other unhealthy foods could cause migraines - but this has now been refuted.
- Mental stress Stress, frustration, loneliness or even boredom can cause food cravings in some people. Because food activates the reward system in the brain and can thus provide comfort and improve the mood.
- Certain drugs can increase the appetite as a side effect. These include medicines for depression and other mental illnesses (antipsychotics) as well as preparations containing cortisone.
- At a Hyperthyroidism the metabolism is running at full speed. Typical symptoms are cravings and weight loss despite increased food intake. In addition, symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as sweating, palpitations, tremors and diarrhea may occur.
- In rare cases, cravings may be a symptom of Worm infection, one tumor or a serious one liver disease his.
- eating disorder such as anorexia, eating-crushing addiction (bulimia) or eating-addiction (binge-eating) are usually associated with cravings. While patients with anorexia suppress hunger, bulimia and binge eating disorder are characterized by binge eating with or without subsequent targeted vomiting.
What does your cravings mean?
If you feel cravings, you should first think about what could be:
- Did you miss a meal, eat too little or eat the wrong one? Then it is probably about "real" hunger.
- Or are you bored, stressed or frustrated? In this case, your brain will likely require food to compensate for another problem.
If you suffer from food cravings very often or especially badly, you should have this checked out by a doctor. This also applies if you have the possibility of having any of the above conditions.
Combat cravings: what helps?
What to do when cravings come in? To resist the temptation of chocolate, chips and other high calorie snacks, there are some tricks.
We have for you 10 tips against cravings compiled:
- Deflection: In particular, if you're bored or in stress situations cravings, it can help to distract yourself: a hot bath, a walk or a good book - all that is good, is allowed.
- Chew sugar-free gum provides a fresh taste in the mouth and deals with the masticatory muscles. Chewing gums with peppermint or menthol taste also reduce the appetite. Anyone who gets hungry from chewing gum can try a mouthwash solution.
- Brush teeth works like chewing gum chewing - brushing your teeth right after supper can help with cravings in the evening.
- Drink: Whether water with soda, tea or coffee: liquid fills the stomach and can relieve cravings.
- vanilla can help against cravings for sweets. The reason is probably that the smell of vanilla - similar to chocolate - in the brain affects the secretion of the happiness hormone serotonin.
- Alternative medicine: In the field of alternative remedies such as homeopathy or Schüssler salts, there are numerous preparations to help against cravings.
- Sports distracts and can reduce appetite. Try the following trick: You can have your favorite snack, but only after a training session - you may not feel like it after exercising.
- Snatch healthy: If cravings can not be stopped, choose a healthy alternative: For example, fruit can reduce your appetite for sweets. Apples and soft fruits have proven to be ravenous, as they have little effect on blood sugar levels. Although nuts are quite high in calories, they contain healthy fatty acids and saturate due to the protein content.
- Sin: Treat yourself to a piece of chocolate, preferably with the highest possible cocoa content. Because with dark chocolate, it is easier to stop after one piece compared to the whole milk variant.
- Cuddling: The "cuddle hormone" oxytocin stimulates the region in the brain, which is responsible for the feeling of satiety. Oxytocin is released during gentle body contact, breastfeeding and after an orgasm. Before you reach for the next time in the snack drawer, you would rather like a helping hand.
The best tip to prevent food cravings is regular, adequate exercise - and the right thing to eat: Whole grains, protein and high-fiber foods such as broccoli or legumes saturate for a long time and keep the blood sugar levels stable.
Do not miss a meal and avoid one-sided diets - this will prevent your body from craving for missing nutrients. It is also important not to forbid anything: Allow yourself occasionally a modest sin than at some point due to cravings to plunder the refrigerator.
5 facts about cravings