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Emotional Eating/Craving

Posted Feb 25 2010 10:35am

People who blame themselves for their food cravings only worsen their mood and increase their need for serotonin. That’s when a pattern of emotional eating can develop. Remember, there are biological causes of sugar cravings, and your carbohydrate craving is rarely just a behavioral problem. The root problem is more likely inadequate nutrition.

How to break this vicious cycle? To reduce food cravings, the body needs real support — and lots of it. We have seen over and over that eating healthy foods, adding pharmaceutical–grade nutritional supplements and moderate exercise can almost miraculously curb cravings. Your metabolism will heal itself when provided with the necessary nutritional support. If it has been damaged, the process can take some time, but it will happen. The good news is — you don’t have to give up chocolate!

The general consensus among most doctors and dietitians is that cravings stem from a complex combination of emotional, hormonal and biochemical factors. Blood sugar imbalance is seen as the foundation for most cravings, but emotional and hormnal factors are also contributory factors. A small number of cravings can be the result of a food allergy - we crave the very food to which we are allergic! - and a few people still believe that we crave certain foods because our body is "telling us" to remedy a specific nutritional deficiency, although in view of the fact that most of our cravings tend to be for less healthy high-sugar or high-fat foods, this view is now less popular.

Emotional Causes

The most common emotional or psychological triggers for food cravings include: stress, depression, boredom and a general need for comfort. In severe cases, cravings can lead to binge eating and other types of eating disorders. If your yearning for certain foods is causing episodes of uncontrolled bingeing, you must seek help from your doctor.

Hormones

The fact that the strongest food cravings occur in the week prior to menstruation, or during pregnancy, suggests that hormonal swings have an influence on this type of urge to eat. Also, it's interesting that men - who typically are less affected by hormone imbalance than women - tend to develop fewer cravings.

Low Blood Sugar (Blood Glucose)

A major trigger for food cravings is low blood sugar. This is typically caused by lack of food as a result of going too long between meals/snacks, or following very low calorie diets.

Blood Sugar Imbalance

Studies indicate that people with cravings, especially regular dieters, often have an underlying blood sugar imbalance: meaning, their blood sugar levels fluctuate too much because they eat too much of the wrong type of carbohydrate. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause cravings, water retention, excessive thirst and mood swings.

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