Whether it’s for chocolate or a burger, cravings are one of the biggest hurdles in maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet. But what do cravings actually mean and what can you do to curb them? Let’s see if we can gain a better understanding of this phenomenon.
Is It Your Body?
One particularly hot topic in research on cravings is whether they’re a matter of your body or your brain and to what degree. It’s sometimes suggested that one can interpret cravings for specific food items like soft drinks or pizza as definitive signs that something’s missing nutritionally. The science on this is, however, is a bit foggy. For instance, there hasn’t been enough reliable research to suggest that a desire for chocolate will always point to low levels in magnesium. On the other hand, consistent links have been found between certain unusual cravings and mineral deficiencies such as ice-chewing and anemia.
Or Your Brain?
Studies into the cravings we’re all familiar with tend to show that they’re a matter of brain chemistry. This is because the consumption of “pleasure foods” high in sugars, fats, and sodium factors closely into the release of endorphins, dopamine, and other neurochemicals which tie in to reward-motivated behaviour. This is why, before the guilt sets in, we feel so relieved and relaxed when we finally give in to that urge. The brain is rewarded and will seek the reward again, maintaining a harmful cycle. It’s just one of many components to the complex relationship between our diet and our state of mind.
How to Fight Them
It will probably come as no surprise that effective stress management can have an effect on how often you feel these urges. This is because the deficiency is more likely in the related neurochemical than the related nutrient. We know that exercise is a great way to get those endorphins flowing and relieve stress. On top of this, however, knowing what activities take you to that happy place could be just the brain hack that you need. If, for example, you can establish a system of rewarding the right decision (saying no to that cookie dough) with a relaxing bath, you just might have brain chemistry on your side rather than working against you!
Looking to curb those cravings? Staying active, healthy, and happy is a great place to start! Call Vitality Fitness today at (587) 777-3378 to find out what our Boot Camp can do for you.