Why do we crave certain foods?

·2-min read
AGE FOTOSTOCK

If you've ever craved a cookie at 9am in the morning, you are not alone.

But while it's often easy to rely on snacks and caffeine for an energy boost over the course of the day, it's important to consider exactly why you have a hankering for these foods.

To mark Stress Awareness Month this April, Holly Zoccolan, nutritional health coach and founder of The Health Zoc, has shared her top tips for deconstructing cravings and eating mindfully.

Nutritional deficiency

While there are a number of reasons why we experience sudden urges to eat specific foods, the most likely is due to not eating enough fruit and vegetables.

"For our bodies to function at their best, we need to ensure we are giving them all the essential nutrients that it needs," she explained. "If our body isn't getting enough of these nutrients then it will let us know by sending messages and signals to our brains in the form of cravings. In general, inadequate nutrient content leads to sugar and caffeine cravings and inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings."

Dehydration

We know that we are meant to be drinking two litres of water a day, yet we tend to let this slide and it doesn't stay a priority as we go about our day.

"Ensuring you are drinking enough water is essential for your overall wellbeing and reducing cravings," noted Holly. "Our bodies are made up of around 70 per cent water so when we aren't drinking enough water it makes our body believe we are dehydrating. Dehydration manifests itself as hunger so gives a signal to our brains that we are hungry and triggers the cravings. Next time you feel a craving drink a large glass of water and notice if you feel any different."

Emotional issues

It is most common for cravings to appear due to an underlying emotional problem that isn't being addressed.

"At the core of every emotional eating trigger is a feeling. These vary between boredom, stress, exhaustion, anger, sadness or loneliness. We associate these types of feelings as being bad and negative and although we would prefer not to have to deal with them, they are actually really important," the expert added. "They are your body's way of telling you that something isn't quite as it should be. If we learn to listen and understand these cravings, we are then able to act on the feeling and therefore lead ourselves to a happier, less stressful and more mindful life."

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