A craving is a sudden feeling or urge to consume a specific type of food. Cravings are an unusual phenomenon and mostly affect women throughout pregnancy and during menstruation. Sometimes food cravings are for common foodstuffs like cake, apples, and chocolate, but sometimes, less often, they result in a desire to eat a type of food you normally do not like, or combine a weird combination of different ingredients.
There are specific causes of food cravings:
• Hormonal changes. During pregnancy, hormonal changes can lead to an intensified sense of smell that can affect your food choices.
• Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). You can have many signs and symptoms, including fatigue, mood swings, irritability, tender breasts, depression, and food cravings.
• Stress. Increased stress can raise your levels of cortisol, which leads to cravings, hunger, and bad (unhealthy) eating behaviours.
• Lack of sleep. Poor quality of sleep can interfere with the hormones that are responsible for regulating the feeling of hunger. Usually, this happens in the evenings because that is a time for unusual eating patterns to develop.
• A nutrient-poor diet. Proteins and fibre support one to feel full all the time. However, a diet with low levels of these nutrients can cause you to feel hungry.
• Poor hydration. Taking in too few fluids can make you feel hungry or even start cravings for particular foods in some people.
• Lack of physical activity. Walking more, or an increase in physical activities, can help reduce food cravings. However, with less physical activity, you will experience more cravings.
Those giving up smoking often experience very strong cravings. You cannot avoid all triggers, however, learning how to handle them can make it easier to manage them. With smoking, when you experience a craving, it is very useful to have in place a strategy to handle that urge to smoke.
Hints and tips for defeating unwanted cravings
There are ways you can handle any cravings you might be having. It might be hard initially, but persevere and some of these might work well for you.
• Consume a stable diet that contains lean meat, which is a source of protein, vegetables, fruits, legumes, reduced-fat dairy foods, and whole grains. When you follow a balanced diet during pregnancy you know that your baby is getting all of the nutrition they require.
• Physical activity is another option. Jogging or walking are a good way of getting some exercise in.
• Try to eat frequently to avoid blood sugar drops, which might cause food cravings. Dividing food into small and fulfilling meals can help.
• Try to get enough rest; ensure you look for a comfortable area, that will help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
• Attend self-help classes or talks to help you manage your unwanted thought processes.
• Emphasis on lower-calorie foods. Select low-fat options, instead of full fat varieties.
• Generate more healthy treats like chewing gum in case of smoking cravings, or perhaps some fruit when you crave a sweet treat.
Deciding to defeat your cravings is a personal decision, and takes discipline to accomplish.
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- “1st Trimester Pregnancy: What to Expect.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 26 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy/art-20047208.
- “Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS).” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780.
- “Prepare for Cravings.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 8 Apr. 2020, www.cdc.gov/tobacco/campaign/tips/quit-smoking/guide/cravings.html.