The foods for which we have strong cravings act like powerful drugs. The food cravings are akin to the strong desires any addict of alcohol, or compulsive smoker will have. It produces the same effect as these drugs do. Amongst the various food items sugar, salt, chocolates, and carbohydrates are the most addictive.
When we eat these foods we experience the kick and “feel good”. These foods generate the same effects as feel-good hormones like Dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin does to our body. The thought of these foods triggers a craving that is beyond control and the satiety provided by these food items is repetitive and overpowering. When we experience stress, addictive foods come to our rescue and signal the mind that they will provide an escape from it.
Our gut flora is also accountable for our cravings. The abundance of harmful bacteria in our gut generates the craving for junk food, refined sugary products, refined carbohydrate products, and unhealthy fats. On the contrary good bacteria longs for green vegetables, fruit, and clean food. Once we feed the harmful bacteria a chain reaction is triggered further intensifying the craving for such food.
Studies have also suggested that lack of sleep and erratic sleep schedule is also linked to the craving for junk foods.
How can I fix my problem of craving for junk food?
Tips for changing eating habits
- If you eat without savoring the food, the feeling of satisfaction will come late. If you eat mindfully and enjoy each morsel of what you eat, then food is more enjoyable and less of it can make you happy and full. On the contrary, when we watch TV, talk on the phone, and have other distractions we tend to eat more of any food.
- Drink a lot of water – many times it is actually the thirst that is interpreted as food caving by the mind. Further, drinking water intermittently provides a feeling of fullness to the mind.
- Apple cider vinegar – It is observed that taking apple cider vinegar sometimes before meals reduces hunger and cravings.
- Sleep properly – Good quality sleep avoids binge eating and drinking and infuses an overall sense of discipline into the routine.
- Doing a food audit – Food journaling helps to know the trend of eating harmful food and feelings and events creating such cravings.
- Fix stress – Resolving issues that give rise to stress is also found to have contributed to the reduction of cravings for junk foods.
- Substitute deep – fried food with air fried version.
- Mind your portion – resolve to eat smaller portions of junk foods also helps
- Don’t eat the addictive foods alone – eat them with greens or other clean foods.
- Opt for dates, berries, etc instead of sugary foods.
- Opt for whole foods in place of refined versions
- Eat more fiber and lots of prebiotics – Eating probiotics is linked to overall good gut health and gradually gut flora balance is restored.