Hunger vs. Cravings and how to NOT cave

I was HUNGRY & CAVED TO CRAVINGS!

Have you ever told yourself that? Justifying something you ate? Let’s guac about it. Is there a difference between true hunger and cravings? I think so! Lately, I’ve been all in for team #chipsandsalsa or some fresh guacamole. But in reality, I haven’t had much true hunger. What does that mean? You may have heard me discuss the gut-brain connection. Well, I’m bringing it back! B/C hunger and cravings both derive from the brain.

ℍ𝕦𝕟𝕘𝕖𝕣- 2 different hormones cause this. Ghrelin activates neurons to tell us we are hungry. Motilin is the last step of migrating motor complex & triggers rumbling in our bellies. With these, our brain controls our hunger based on what we eat, whether or not we feel that what we’ve eaten is enough to make us full, and the availability of extra calories.

ℂ𝕣𝕒𝕧𝕚𝕟𝕘𝕤- defined as an “intense desire” to eat. Usually these are specific items, ie: chocolate or pizza, sweet or salty foods. Science has found a “network of neural regions” in the brain that affect our emotion, memory and chemosensory stimuli. AKA how we eat food, feel food and remember food can trigger us to want it when we might not! There is some belief it can be sign of a lagging nutrient in our body, but results are inconclusive at this time.

One of my biggest cravings: CHOCOLATE! But I have found some methods to overcome it.

Sources: Medical News Today and Scientific American

What to do to tell the difference?

  • Drink more water. If you think you are starting to get hungry, drink some water and wait 10 mins. It can take 5 mins for our brain to register that our stomach is “full”. If you are still having an appetite after that, eat something!
  • Check yourself. What are you currently doing and what is your mood? People often eat from certain feelings: stress, depression, loneliness, celebration. Just be more aware of why you think you need to eat. And if it’s not true hunger, do something else to overcome that emotion. Meditation, journaling, nature walks or working out are my go to options!
  • Keep a food journal. This helps for many who are doing “if it fits your macros” #IIFYM or are just starting a health/wellness journey. Write down what you eat and be more curious to learn what makes up those foods. What did you eat or drink? How much caffeine have you had today? Are your foods processed or raw ingredients? Combo? How much protein/carbs/fats? Sugar or fiber? All can go into causing more hunger or cravings earlier or later than we desire.

Maybe this weekend, you can start a food journal. Become more aware of your hunger or cravings and eat for fulfillment of your needs, not just your wants! Because you are valuable like that premium guac, not just the free salsa!

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