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Food cravings, why they come up for us and how we can support ourselves with them

Food cravings can crop up for many different reasons, both physiological (what’s happening in our body) and psychologically (how are brain is wired). I’m going to go into some of the reasons why cravings happen:

Sleep

Have you noticed that you have cravings or are more hungry after a bad night’s sleep? There’s lots of research showing us that even after a single nights sleep deprivation, changes happen to our hunger and appetite hormones, leading to us feeling more hungry. It also affects the way the brain’s motivation and reward areas respond to the sight, smell and even the thought of food.  So if you have a had bad night(s) sleep, it’s good to keep in mind you automatically might be more hungry and are more prone to crave those foods that give you instant energy. A tip for you might be to prioritise getting your first meal of the day full of rich protein and healthy fats. It will feed your brain the right stuff and level out your energy.

What we have on our plate

The food we eat and the balance of our macros can also play a part in how often cravings crop up. One of our food sources, carbohydrates, are great for giving us energy, they are our body’s preferred energy source and easy to use. They are also an important source of fibre and micronutrients. They are also good for helping to make your hormones. However, processed carbs and too many of them may well have an impact on your cravings, we can definitely handle the odd spike of refined sugar, but just not on a daily basis or multiple times every day. The majority of the time we need to look to whole food and plant-based carbohydrates are great. To give you a visual of how your plate could look with the amounts of macros (protein, fats and carbs). I use the Alliance of Natural Healths food. Here’s the link to the PDF: https://www.anhinternational.org/resources/documents/180531-food4health-adultplate-rev22/

How we, ourselves, label food

Cravings something as a ‘treat’ or ‘naughty’ or ‘bad, is not going to do us any favours. Labelling something forbidden will set us up to fall. These brains of ours have been wired to believe the foods we crave offer us support, connection and a way through stress and difficult emotions. Therefore labelling these feelings as bad or forbidden is not doing ourselves good service. Nutrition plays a part, yes, but also acknowledging that when a craving comes up, it comes from a place of wanting connection and support. So what can you do to help these craving feelings? Give yourself a minute. Create a space between the thought and the action. Be curious as to what it is that you really need. It could be reassurance or physical connection to someone or it could be that you just need 5 minutes peace to breathe and ground yourself.

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