How confident are you that you can tell the difference between hunger and craving? The best thing about this is that everybody will have experienced both. It isn’t like when I talk about a specific injury that only a few people can relate to, for example.
So let’s get back to what we are talking about. In answer to my original question, hopefully you are all quite confident that you know the difference. If you know for a fact that you haven’t eaten all day then of course you are going to be hungry. But if you ate breakfast just before you left the house for work and you spot a cake in a bakery window on the way in that you just have to get, then that is probably going to be a craving.
Hunger can be controlled fairly easily. All you have to do is eat. If you are eating regularly throughout the day then it is very unlikely that you will experience genuine hunger at any point. This can be guaranteed even further by making sure that you aren’t just eating anything regularly, but that you are eating the types of foods that are going to prevent the onset of hunger.
So why is it that we never seem to crave lettuce or cucumber? We always crave the foods that we know we shouldn’t be eating. Well, there have been numerous studies into why we crave certain foods that have suggested ideas ranging from stress in our personal life, to a love for certain foods that developed from childhood.
One prominent idea relates to our blood sugar levels. I’ve previously discussed the effect that eating a high sugar diet can have on our lives, specifically in relation to foods with a high glycemic index, or GI. If you eat foods that have a high GI then there is a rapid rise in your blood sugar levels. Our body then produces insulin in order to control these blood sugar levels and return your body to normal. Eating too many foods that are high in sugar over a long period of time will result in your body responding less effectively to the insulin, potentially causing diabetes later in life.
But let’s get back to cravings. Once this spike of sugar has returned to a normal level there is a danger that you will want to eat something sugary in order to get back to the previous level. For a lot of people this creates a cycle of snacking throughout the day to satisfy their cravings and then not eating the correct meals because their snacking has left them feeling full.
The way to combat this is by trying to limit the amount of sugars that you eat, including those obtained through eating refined carbs, like white bread or pasta for example. If instead you try to eat complex carbohydrates over the course of the day, accompanied with foods that supply the other macros, fats and protein, then your body is far less likely to experience these high spikes in blood sugar and you shouldn’t be as tempted to pounce on the nearest sugary food that you find!
Of course it isn’t just as simple as that. You will also need to have the right amount of will power and access to the foods that are better for you to eat. But if you want to succeed enough then you will find the strength needed to overcome those cravings, trust me!