What Causes Cravings?

Watch the video below for a look at what causes cravings and the best way to fix them. (the transcript is below)

Video Transcript

Why do you have cravings? This is a big question to ponder.

Because if you’re trying to lose weight, or you’re trying to eat healthily, you know, improve your health, having cravings can be, if not the biggest obstacle, definitely one of the top three.

So I think it’s a really important discussion to have. Why do we have cravings?

The answer to that is that there will probably be a couple of reasons that you have cravings, the top two are definitely going to be physiological cravings and habitual cravings.

Now, there may be a couple of other instances where you have a temporary transient craving, let’s say you’re at a social event, and you really weren’t thinking about eating dessert, but there it is, and it’s social and you want to eat it. It’s debatable whether or not that’s actually a craving, but we can just call it that and say those instances usually just happen once in a while.

However, the physiological and the habitual cravings are the ones that really get us. And so I want to talk about what those are and what you can do to cope with them.

So if you’re having physiological cravings, you may not even recognize that you may be going to eat food without even thinking. Because at a certain point in time that physiological urge to get some nutrition, some energy, or fuel may have been unconscious. And so you would start to snack because you felt a dip in energy or you felt a little shaky, or your focus went away.

And so you may have started to seek out sources of fuel throughout the day. And it doesn’t help that a lot of the traditional advice around dieting, losing weight, and managing blood sugar says that you should snack frequently throughout the day.

Well, when you do this, when you snack frequently throughout the day, you’re basically training your body to say, I’m not really going to burn fat, I don’t need to because fuel is constantly coming in.

And this is a no-no because what happens is you train your body to not burn fat as efficiently, AND to expect those snacks. And then eventually your body just doesn’t work as well at burning fat.

And for those of you that feel like hey, you know, I’m doing everything I can to lose weight, and I still can’t lose that body fat.

Part of that could be that you’ve kind of trained your body out of fat-burning mode, not always, but that could be a potential issue.

So when your body is so acclimated to getting fuel and not tapping into your body fat reserves for fuel, you are going to have a physical craving. You may not be able to detect it as a physical craving, but that’s really what it is.

So when you’re dealing with getting rid of cravings, this is the first one to attack.

what causes cravings

The second type of craving is what I call habitual cravings. And these are much more difficult to deal with. So a habitual craving is where you have created a habit every day at a certain time. I eat chocolate every day or at 9 pm every day I eat ice cream (that was me for a long time).

And so just like any other habit, when you go on autopilot, your brain is expecting that you will engage in that behavior in a mindless fashion for the most part.

I mean, you certainly don’t have to bring consciousness to it. Because once you’ve started the habit, say once you’ve gone to the kitchen and opened up the chocolate; your brain is on autopilot and it actually is having a dopamine craving.

“My brain needs to eat this chocolate because I do it every day at 3 pm. ”

So you can see how those types of cravings are a little bit tougher to deal with.

How do you deal with this?

Please do not try to address a habitual craving without addressing the physiological first.

There are three suggestions that I have for that.

The first is that you stop snacking, or start to taper down snacking, or if that’s even hard for you, you start to be conscious of your snacking.

So pay attention.

You can keep a food diary. When do I snack? How do I feel when I snack? Do I need this snack right now?

If it’s doable for you, you can completely eliminate all snacking right away. If it’s really hard, it may take you a couple of weeks, just phase into it; because your body may not be very efficient at burning fat.

You might really really feel hungry and feel hypoglycemic if you don’t have a snack, so you have to work on it slowly.

But the thing that you need to do in order to support that is to number one, drink water. If you are hungry, you have a craving, or you feel like it’s time for chocolate, drink a glass of water first.

So a lot of times we feel that physiological urge to eat, but it’s actually thirst, very important.

The other thing is that you need to make your meals so nourishing and complete, that your body is not having that physiological urge.

So you want to make sure that at each meal you’re eating protein, fiber, and some healthy fats. This will give your body the fuel that it needs so that you don’t get a blood sugar spike.

So if you eat cereal for breakfast your blood sugar is going to spike and then it’s going to drop and now that’s going to be a physiological craving.

The brain senses that it’s an emergency and says, “Hey, we need fuel now”.

So the longer you avoid snacking, the better your body is going to get at burning fat, and you will be able to just slip from the meal fuel to your body fat fuel seamlessly.

And that’s where you want to be right?

So think in terms of blood sugar stability, which means protein, fiber-rich carbs (aka complex carbs), and healthy fats. That’s the way that you keep your blood sugar stable.

So when you don’t have that physiological urge due to dropping blood sugar or dehydration you’ll be less likely to have a physical craving.

Hopefully, you can eat three square meals a day, or for some people, it’s two. And then in between those meals, you’re drinking water, and you’re not snacking.

Try it out and see how it works. And let me know.

Now the habitual cravings will be another, you know, one hour of video. So I’m not going to go into too much detail. But I want you to understand that there are two sides to any kind of habit, there’s starting the habit and stopping the habit.

So if you have a habitual habit of eating something, your brain is craving that, right?

That is a habitual craving. It’s not easy to fix, you have to get the physiological urges off the table first. And then you want to slowly but surely, begin stopping that habit.

And one of the most important things that you can do to stop that habit is to remove the triggers. Fix your environment and set it up for success.

So that means number one, go shopping and do your meal planning when you are at your best, which is usually in the morning.

Don’t try to test your willpower at 6 pm.

Do your shopping and you’re planning in the morning or on the weekend morning when you’re relaxed, you feel calm, you’re not stressed out and you can make those good choices.

Don’t buy the tempting stuff. Don’t have it in the house.

That is the biggest thing you can do. Because then when you’re trying to stop that habit, if it’s not here in the house it’s a lot easier to stop.

It doesn’t necessarily stop you from going out and buying it at that moment and maybe that will happen. But that’s okay because stopping a habit is a process.

But so those are ideas on how to stop both physiological and habitual cravings. Nourish your body properly, hydrate your body, avoid snacking if you can, avoid those blood sugar surges, and set up your environment for success.

And by working on both of those areas it’s going to help you reduce your cravings dramatically.

I would love to hear from you and hear how it goes.

If you have any challenges with it or have any questions, just please reach out to me.

This is so so huge cravings are so huge. So I really really am excited about giving this information and hoping that it makes a big positive impact on your life. Imagine being on this health journey or weight loss journey with more ease, more pleasure, and more confidence! That is truly my goal for you. I would love to empower you and for you to really enjoy the ride.

If you have had some big challenges with your health, your weight, or your relationship with your body or food and you would like to chat about it, please let me know.

I would love to invite you to my podcast where we talk openly about these kinds of struggles. I would love to hear about the hardest lesson for you. What have you learned and how has it affected your life? My goal is that the podcast will inspire and empower all of us. Click the link below if you would like to be a guest!

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