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Why Do Food Cravings Happen and How Can They Be Stopped?

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Content Editor & Ecotrophologist
Leyla is an ecotrophologist. She writes articles for foodspring about nutrition and healthy living. She also creates free food programs to help you eat healthy.

Just had dinner, but now you’re overcome with a sudden craving for something sweet or salty? We’ve all been there at one point or another, and we know: It’s not easy to resist cravings. But did you know that these feelings of hunger mean your body is giving you signals? What kind of signals exactly? That’s what we’re about to get into!

Reading tip: Check out our collection of natural appetite suppressant foods!

Where do these cravings come from?

Cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods are part of being human because they’re how our bodies tell us what they need. There are various reasons why food cravings come up and understanding them is the first step to stopping cravings once and for all.

Being on a diet

Want to lose weight? Then make sure that the calorie deficit you set remains moderate. Use our calorie calculator to quickly and easily calculate your calorie totals to give you the deficit you need. If you consume too few calories over a longer period of time, you put your body into a state of starvation where it’s driven to store energy in the form of fat. At the same time, your desire for fatty food increases.

Relying on food to make you happy

It’s a reward after a hard day or a consolation after a failed exam. Going for a bar of chocolate makes you happy, at least in the short term. Some scientific studies have shown that certain foods activate the brain’s reward center, causing happiness hormones to be released. The result? You feel better…for a while.

Falling back on habits

Ever since you can remember, you’ve had something sweet after dinner to round things off. So it’s totally normal that you have a craving after your main meal. Because often it’s a simple habit behind your cravings that’s firmly anchored in your subconscious. Changing bad habits is difficult but the process starts by being fully aware of them, among other things.

Further reading: Healthy Habits – Your path to a healthier lifestyle.

Under too much stress

Multitasking at work, worrying about the future, and realizing you forgot to call your best friend again. In stressful situations your brain releases cortisol, which also leads to increased levels of the hunger hormone. Your body’s survival instincts are activated. Instead of mindful and healthy eating, you just end up eating more because your body wants to build up reserves.

Sleeping too little

This pattern you’ve for sure felt before, after too little sleep it’s almost impossible to satiate your appetite, and you breeze through your snack supply in no time. If you don’t sleep well, your appetite is stronger and you feel full less quickly. This is underlined by various sleep studies, attributing this phenomenon to the increased levels of ghrelin combined with decreased levels of leptin in the body. Looking for a healthier snack alternative? Then our Vegan Protein Balls are just the thing for you!

Changes in hormone levels

Your menstrual cycle means that your hormone levels change cyclically. Continuous hormone fluctuations are totally normal and important for various processes in your body. The increased level of progesterone, which is present just before your period until the onset of menstruation, has been shown to increase your appetite and cravings. Constantly hungry and not sure why? Make sure you check which cycle phase you’re in.

Reading tip: Cycle Syncing – how to synchronize your cycle and lifestyle

Stop cravings with these tips

Knowing where your cravings come from is essential for avoiding being surprised by them in the future. Here’s our top tips for stopping cravings in advance!

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet provides the perfect foundation for any goal. If you provide your body with nutritious meals, you can be sure it has all the nutrients it needs. We always recommend a balanced diet that includes complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, high-quality protein, and adequate hydration. Make sure you start with fresh foods and cook a variety of dishes. Need some inspiration? Check out this delicious recipe for protein pasta with red bell pepper sauce and feta!

More mindfulness

Craving chocolate? Then you shouldn’t ban it from your life but try to enjoy it mindfully instead. In fact, studies show that being more mindful while eating has been shown to reduce cravings.

Reduce stress

Take more rest, breaks, and time for regeneration in your everyday life. What you choose to do to reduce stress is up to you! Why not try a little yoga?

Make sure you get a good night’s sleep

It’s not only the duration, but also the quality of your sleep that’s important. Room temperature and your coffee consumption are just two helpful tips for more restful sleep.

More healthy living tips from foodspring:

Article sources
We at foodspring use only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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