2718 E. 57th Avenue #107, Spokane, Washington 99223

What’s Behind Food Cravings?

Request More Information

Request More Information

Request More Information
What’s Behind Food Cravings?

All humans have food cravings. Some cravings are sweet, some savory, and others salty. For some people, cravings can be specific and consistent, or bizarre and rare. Such cravings can penetrate on a deep mental and emotional level, potentially causing you to lose sight of training and health goals. Why do we experience food cravings and what can you do to help stop them? 


What are food cravings?
To begin to understand this from a scientific standpoint we must first reference the two hormones that are in charge of regulating these occurrences internally: leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin is the hormone responsible for inducing satiety while ghrelin is the hormone responsible for appetite stimulation. Both of these are essential to regulating portion sizes, hunger cues, and pesky cravings that get in the way of us reaching our goals. These two hunger hormones can be affected by sleep and stress. Both can be drastically over or underproduced when less than seven hours of sleep are achieved. Even just 30 minutes of decreased quality sleep at night can immensely impact the body’s ability to regulate the two.

This may result in being overtired, moody, and the inefficient cycling of insulin levels. In turn, sleep-deprived individuals may crave foods loaded with sugar or caffeine to provide a quick energy boost to make it through the day.

Food Cravings at Work
Shift workers who work late nights experience sleep and hormone irregularities due to the nature of their schedules. Their sleep is often choppy and inconsistent. They have access to more vending machines and less healthy food options during their break times at work, probably opting for late-night fast food to fuel their nights on the job.

That said, most of us have seemingly “normal” schedules and still struggle with food cravings and late-night snacking. What’s really at the root of them?

The Root Cause of a Craving
If you have concerns about your inability to stave off cravings after working hard at it all week, only to sabotage it while mindlessly munching in front of the TV or eating a full bag of chips on the way home without realizing it. Here are a few questions you can ask to gain some clarity.

Are you eating enough during the day?
If macro portions are not being met during the day, even a healthy dinner at the end of the day may not be enough to counter the effects of deprivation. The body in an effort to make up the deficit will produce an appetite so that certain food cravings may be triggered to encourage the body to get what it needs. Usually, however, the intensity of the appetite at this point will likely cloud judgment.

Get an idea of how many portions of proteins, healthy fats, and carbs you are are eating at each meal. If you're skipping breakfast, and reaching for simple carbohydrates (bagels, baked goods, fruit, etc) or perhaps eating a small salad without enough protein for lunch, their body is likely hungry for more nutrient-dense foods during the day.


Are the cravings physiological or emotional?
Keep a food journal and make notes about what you're eating, how long it takes you to eat, and what emotions you are experiencing before, during, and after a meal or snack. This may help pinpoint whether the cravings are due to actual hunger or the body’s response to stress and overwhelm.

If you have determined that the cravings are due to stress, it's important to set a solid sleep routine and ditch the screens 30 min before bed. Blue light has the capacity to reduce the natural production of melatonin in our systems and lends to choppy night sleep. This in turn diminishes adequate sleep and recovery, which is when the hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin, get to work. A well-rested and well-recovered individual has to ability to better control their emotional state and therefore, their cravings. 

Offering Guidance
Most of what we do as personal trainers and coaches is to help you draw awareness to your current habits, gain clarity on what’s working and what’s not, and come up with a few simple steps and action sequences to get you moving in the right direction. 

While staying within scope of practice for those not also certified in nutrition, we can still very simply and effectively help you draw attention to current habits, provide helpful articles to self-educate, and provide accountability to help keep you on track to make the necessary lifestyle changes you need to become healthier.

 

Looking for more help Spokane? Check us out here.


Request Information Now!