An occasional desire to eat chocolate, ice-cream orour favorite food is felt by most of us. But cravings are an irresistible desire that you cannot ignore. It is deeper than occasional urge for certain food.
Many food cravings are a result of hormonal changes in our body. Especially cravings developed during pregnancy and pre menstrual cravings are due to hormonal changes. Production of serotonin and other chemicals get influenced by fluctuating hormonal levels that can trigger intense desire for specific food. Stress and excessive hunger can also result cravings for specific food. Sometimes it indicates specific illness, addiction or deep psychological problem.
Sometimes cravings for non food items like clay, soil, laundry starch and ice have been seen in children and few people. This bizarre food habit is given a term ‘pica’. It reflects a serious medical or psychological problem. An iron deficiency is found among people having craving for ice. If such cravings are present in pregnant women it can harm both mother and her foetus. This kind of cravings needs immediate attention.
Causes of cravings could be both physical and psychological. Some experts believe that it reflects the need of body for specific food that means cravings develop to fulfill a nutritional need. But mostly we tend to eat things that are not nutritious and that indicates a psychological factor influencing the process. Some people eat certain foods during stressful periods or sadness.
Do not deny ! Moderation is the key
A craving should not be denied. It will urge you to eat more. If the cravings pose a serious health risk like salty foods in hypertension or sweets in diabetes it should be controlled but in other situation it should be satisfied in moderation. For example women develop strong cravings for sweets during her premenstrual phase that may be satisfied by eating more fruits which are high in natural sugars .They can also take starchy foods. Cravings for sweets can be controlled by eating a diet high in whole grain, starchy foods along with moderate amount of protein.
Generally drug related cravings are non specific and the person may simply feel very hungry and eat anything, not a particular food.
Things that may help
· Avoid being too hungry .It can force you to eat sweets and fatty foods.
· Eat light and frequent meals. Strong hunger can cause strong cravings that will lead to over eating.
· To avoid thinking about your favorite food, make yourself busy. You can watch your favorite movie or read a novel.
· Meeting people, making new friends and gardening are also good options to make you busy thinking about them.