Updated: Aug 15, 2020
Many of us start on the weight loss journey and experience weight loss but sooner or later, cravings start showing up. The inability to manage our cravings causes derailment in the weight loss journey. Our ability or inability to manage our cravings many times decides the duration of the weight loss journey and therefore the amount of weight loss and its sustainability.
Most of the times, our strategy for weight loss is either portion control of our daily food intake and / or to knock off our favorite foods. These favorite foods are also generally our comfort foods and most often are also high in calories.
Why we do experience cravings? It is one of the many ways the body communicates with us. Cravings occur because of fair no. of physiological, neurological and psychological reasons.
Here are some of them.
Some of the physiological reasons are:
If we have a breakfast that is high in quick digesting carbohydrates and we are an insulin resistant body type, there is an unexplained hunger in about an hour or two after our meal. If we are on a portion control diet, the hunger strikes much earlier.
If we consume less than adequate protein than our body requires, then protein deficiency shows up as cravings.
The insulin rush and dip through the day due to an imbalance in our macro nutrient consumption ratio., causes cravings. Every body has a certain requirement of carbohydrate: protein: fat ratio. We need to be aware of it and consume accordingly.
If there is a craving for fried foods., it could mean that the consumption of good fats in a day is less than adequate.
Sweet cravings closer to our menstrual cycle, could mean a deficiency in B12 and vital micro- nutrients.
Some neurological reasons for cravings are:
We all have our favorite foods. Favorite foods generally are high calories and many times also are fairly high in empty calories. Most often The moment I decide to give up on my favorite foods because I desire to lose weight., it becomes a part of a list of forbidden foods. Anything forbidden is generally more appealing and suddenly it becomes more significant. For e.g. there are a fair no. of diabetic people who would have not liked sweets or sugary foods. Many of them after they become aware of their diabetes condition, start craving for sugars and look for opportunities to indulge in sugars. Similarly, the more we consider them in the “NO” list, the more the image pops in our heads. We tend to control it with our will power for sometime. However, soon the cravings become very intense and it takes over the will power. We tend to give up most times by the end of the day. Some very determined people can manage for a couple of weeks. A few people (2/3) on a scale of 10 have very strong will power that lasts for a few months. Men generally tend to have a stronger will power than women.
We may have decided to give-up on our favorite foods. However, every time we see it, the last so many pleasurable experiences pop up in our heads. Thereafter it becomes very difficult to control the desire to consume it.
Stress causes increase in the stress hormone cortisol. We often tend to resort to comfort when we are stressed. Food is comfort for many of us and more importantly it is very easily available and it is not regarded as a vice as compared to smoking or alcohol. There is nothing better than our favorite food to give us instant comfort though it is temporary and short lived.
Less than adequate sleep and / or disturbed sleep also contribute to increase in cortisol. Need for sugars and cravings for comfort food also tends to increase when we are deprived of sleep.
Deepika Chalasani is a Clinical Nutritionist, Mind and Body Transformation Coach and co-founder of Fit4Life India, an integrated nutrition and wellness organisation for Indians that provides complete solutions, addressing health and wellness challenges of individuals by working on their overall well being. Deepika, best nutritionist in Hyderabad for weight loss and online dietician can be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org or Mobile +91 94910 11202.