You always start the day with great intentions. You throw back a green smoothie for breakfast, pack a nice salad for lunch and settle in for a day of healthy choices.
But then something weird happens – perhaps right after a stressful meeting, or during the 3pm slump. You’re struck by unbearable cravings and next thing you know, you’re raiding the office cupboards for emergency chocolate or scooping the last crumbs out of a bag of Twisties.
If this happens to you all too often, there might be some underlying reasons for your food cravings. Here are five of the most common ones (and some easy tips to stop them).
1. You crave sugar.
The cause: Er, sugar.
Here’s a tip: the more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave. Studies have shown that fructose floods the brain with dopamine, a hormone that is also activated by addictive drugs. And when the sugar high wears off and the dopamine dies down, the brain starts screaming for that second hit. Is it any wonder rats have been known to opt for sugar over cocaine?
The only solution, frankly, is quitting sugar. People find that once they’ve broken the fructose addiction and given sugar the boot, their cravings disappear.
2. You crave chocolate.
The cause: Stress.
Bad day at work? You might find yourself face first in a Cadbury Milk Tray. That’s because chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, also known as “happiness hormones”. Experts think this is also why women crave chocolate during their time of the month (it’s basically medicine, okay!).
While 85 per cent chocolate is a-okay in our books, if you feel addicted it might be time to reel it in. One trick is to exercise when a craving comes on – it stimulates the same hormones!
3. You crave salty snacks.
The cause: Dehydration.
It might sound crazy and counter-intuitive, but your salt cravings could be a side effect of dehydration. That’s because salts are actually needed to balance fluid levels in the body, which might explain why you crave something salty after a big sweaty workout.
The fix is fairly obvious – drink water! If you find yourself forgetting to sip on your H2O, try making a big pot of herbal tea to drink at your desk, or downloading an app to remind yourself to get your eight glasses a day.
4. You crave a big steak.
The cause: Iron deficiency.
Constantly hankering for a juicy eye fillet? Or worse, you’re a vegetarian that can’t stop craving meat? It’s possible that you have an iron deficiency (red meat is one of the richest sources of the mineral iron).
Iron deficiency can be dangerous if left untreated, so we definitely recommend checking this out with a doctor. You can also boost your intake naturally with red meat, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds.
5. You crave all of the cheese.
The cause: Cheese is a drug. Well, sort of.
If you’ve ever felt slightly seduced by cheese before (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?), there’s a pretty good reason for it. Cheese contains high levels of beta-casomorphins, which have a slight opioid effect. Well, that explains the euphoric feeling we get over a wheel of Brie!
We don’t really think you need a fix for this one! A few slices of cheese are delicious, satiating and a great way to overcome sugar cravings.