Crazy cravings can manifest due to certain nutrient deficiency, hormonal imbalance or a trigger by internal or external stimuli. Uncontrolled appetites not only affect your brain but can also cause general body malfunction.
Craving is caused by parts of the brain responsible for memory; the hippocampus, caudate and insula. In the presence of a trigger or a stressor, the body communicates to the brain in search of rewards to suppress these stimuli.
Hunger and fullness signals come from two nerve centers within the hypothalamus; the lateral and ventromedial hypothalamus. The lateral hypothalamus responds to any internal or external hunger stimulation.
Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is produced by the brain in exceeding amounts suppressing hormone leptin, a hormone responsible for signaling the body to reduce weight and burn more calories. This in turn causes an increased food intake promoting fat storage in the body.
Are you fond of candy, too much sugar or even artificial sweeteners? Guess what. You are impacting the inhibition of Serotonin production. In fact, such foods trigger your brain reward system communicating mood changes. These abrupt changes subsequently cause imbalance of Serotonin and hormone Leptin.
Caffeine addiction is not of help either since its chemical content stimulate the production of dopamine countering the production of Serotonin.
“Interference of normal Serotonin production leads to heightened appetites. You end up with intense cravings and abnormal eating patterns.”
Countering cravings is a gradual process. Start small but steady. After all, craving might just be a symptom of deficiency of magnesium and zinc which help in the regulation and utilization of glucose and insulin respectively.
Did you know that dark chocolate is not only healthy but also contains the right amount of sugar and cocoa and is very rich in magnesium? So the next time you crave sugar try some dark chocolate.
Be self-conscious. Work on balancing your diet. Supplement your meals with chia seeds, cinnamon, yoghurt and nuts; they are natural and just as sweet and will substitute your craze for candy. If you are a work out enthusiast, then you already know you lose a lot of energy in the process. This is because your body has used up iron. Lack of iron in your system leaves you fatigued making your body crazily crave quick energy.
Instead of grabbing that junk or ice cream you are already thinking about, why don’t you try whole meal smoothie by blending two high protein additions like nuts and berries or chia seeds, fiber-rich fruits like mangoes or bananas, fortified cereals and greens.
Opt for solid meals and frequent liquids in between meals to remain full for longer periods. In this way, the ventromedial hypothalamus will send signals that you are full inhibiting the production of hormone ghrelin and maintaining a balance of neurotransmitter Serotonin. Remain hydrated. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. Alternate between water and herbal tea which is slightly naturally sweet, quenches thirst and counters cravings.
Control your appetite. Food addiction begins when we do not manage our cravings. The ultimate result is obesity, heart disease or even an aneurysm! Moderation is key. Know when to obey or ignore your brain. Eat just what your system can take, avoid triggers and keep your cravings in check!