Why Do We Get Cravings?

Fitness, Mindset

A pinch of salt, a dash of this, a splash of that. When it comes to cooking, it’s a fine skill to get these things right. There are many reasons why we aren’t all Michelin star chefs. Is it a perfected arrangement of fresh produce? Meticulous measuring devices? A unique blend of spices? It goes back to what we were saying about superlatives; best, worst, fittest, strongest, TASTIEST.

Food from a restaurant will always be served to SATISFY. The same can be said for what we decide to put in our body, so when our tastebuds suddenly become stubborn food critics we can’t help but wonder why things that once seemed appetising just don’t hit the spot?

TASTE and CRAVINGS.

Not to get the two confused, our tastes and cravings are two separate means of being satisfied, one is making decisions based on what we enjoy and the other can often be completely irrational toward things with no nutritional benefit or further resolve.

Whether you see cravings as good or bad, cravings are messages which tell our bodies that we are missing something. Missing, either in that we physiologically depend on having more of something in order to sustain and bring back balance, or emotionally, to make us feel better. How quick we are to ascertain not only the difference between the two, but pacify whatever cravings we have to a REASONABLE degree of satiety, will determine how much longer it has a voice, and whether we insist to listen.

The impending case of binge eating, whether it’s the first thing to hand or the last thing you’d expect to eat, are merely filling the gaps that can only be filled by what you crave. Your brain sees an over abundance of possibilities and makes demands, whereas your stomach only recognises one thing at a time.

What if you crave nutella because your blood sugar is low,

Peanut butter because you haven’t consumed any fat,

salty food because your dehydrated.

and the things that you happen to rectify those deficiencies with are equally consumed as they are demanded, you get an easy justification of being emotionally dependant. There are plenty of other sugar and fat sources, plenty of alternatives to assist with mineral balance that doesn’t concern high amounts of caffeine and replacements. What you fancy and what you need are two different things entirely.

The best contrast I can provide between the two is comparing restaurant quality food to a ready meal when you are hungry. Though it’s easy to use savoury food as an example, in that it is more filling, sugar is no different when you understand why you want it so much. No matter how bland or inferior to a cooked meal, the ready meal will do the trick if its been a while since your last meal. Though they’re not ideal, most of which will be very dense in calories, contain SOME macro nutrition, protein and fats for example, which will seem to fill you up much more than the quick grabs and snacks on the go.

Now your cravings have subsided, you have a full belly, for now.

Whether it’s salt, butter, spice, oil or sugar, flavour, taste aside, anything that you cannot possibly emulate in your own kitchen or have readily available is no real issue.

So what happens when you combine fats, sugar, carbs, put it into a pot and in your tea cupboard. NUTELLA. It’s all of the things you crave, with no expense, no preparation, no plates to put out, dishwashers to empty. Fool you fool me, if I was to put Nutella in my breakfast often enough, I personally don’t think i’d be able to stomach plain oats without it? It’s the same with cheese, anything sweet, pleasant or even remotely more-ish, it’s hard to close the flood gates on something that’s going to make us feel better for a period of time. With all the subliminal messaging, marketing and offers that play on our hunger,  it’s not like we need much more persuasion as it is. Anything you know you’ll MOST LIKELY eat if it’s there, don’t buy it, then you won’t be tempted.

TIME.

We will happily save ourselves a meal or two in weary anticipation of a meal out, wait thirty minutes once we’re actually sat down, and yet can’t wait a second longer than two stood watching through the window of a microwave.

If you spent an evening shadowing any decent chef, you’ll soon learn that timing determines quality. If something is too hot, it burns, too cold, undercooked. It doesn’t take much of an eye to distinguish between someone who regularly cooks and eats their own food and someone that will happily stand in a queue for the same amount of time. How long can deny your body of what it needs, wait to be served your daily hit of cravings, only to be unsatisfied. Cravings manifest themselves in thoughts, but they are still ultimately choices, whether you choose to ignore them and suffer or abide by their dictation, this will ultimately determine whether you remain hungry, adequately satisfied or painfully full to the brim.

Look out for my next blog ‘NEED > GREED’

Jake.

 

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