What Causes Your Food Urges and Cravings?

Food cravings are the bane of people trying to lose weight. You do everything you can to stick to a healthy meal plan, but thoughts of decadent meals and snacks swirl in your head – making your efforts to lose weight extremely difficult.

At Marin Weight Loss & Wellness in Greenbrae and Novato, California, we work to help you identify the reasons behind your food cravings. Once you know why you’re craving certain foods or reaching for that bag of chips habitually, it’s much easier to successfully overcome your urges and lose weight.

Here are some of the major reasons you have insatiable cravings that derail your diet.

Memory and reward

Everyone has foods they love and associate with positive experiences. For example, you may have fond memories of Grandma’s apple pie from Thanksgiving, macaroni and cheese made by your mom, or a refreshing ice cream cone on a hot summer day. This makes sense, because your food cravings are directly affected by regions of the brain responsible for pleasure, reward, and memory.

Emotional attachment

Emotions can play a strong role in urges and cravings, too. If you consistently reach for a cookie or chips when you feel down or use food to celebrate an accomplishment, you may have emotional triggers. We can help you figure out these emotional triggers and overcome them. 

Hormonal imbalances

Your hormones affect your cravings. Imbalances of the hunger-controlling hormones leptin and serotonin can cause you to feel hungry – even if you don’t truly need to eat.

Women’s sex hormones can also trigger cravings, especially during pregnancy, menopause, and different times of your cycle. During pregnancy, hormonal changes may disrupt taste and smell receptors.

Nutrient needs

In some cases, you may have cravings due to specific nutrient deficiencies. Your body wants you to eat certain foods because it senses a lack of certain minerals, vitamins, or phytochemicals. We evaluate your eating habits and help you create a nutritionally complete plan so you can cross this cause of cravings off your list. 

Distinguishing between hunger and cravings

If you’re craving a specific food – such as a candy bar or pizza – but have eaten relatively recently and should be satiated, you’re probably experiencing a selective craving triggered by emotions, hormones, or memory.

But if you have true hunger pangs and are craving a wide variety of foods, you’re probably truly hungry. In some cases, however, you may think you’re hungry when you’re actually just in need of some water. Thirst can show up as hunger sometimes.

How do I decipher my cravings?

At Marin Weight Loss & Wellness, our mindful eating program can help you decipher your cravings and overcome them. Mindful eating gives you the ability to determine when it’s appetite or when it’s emotional, psychological, or lifestyle driving your food urges.

You’ll look at childhood patterns of eating and any “reward” habits you have when it comes to snacking. The team helps you look for signs of stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem that may drive your food choices and urges. Sleep deprivation and malnourishment are other factors that could be causing food cravings and make it hard for you to overcome them.

Once you have a better idea of what drives you to crave and eat, we provide you with the tools to overcome. You’ll learn how to identify sensations of fullness and find alternative sources of emotional relief.

Cravings and urges aren’t just something to “get over.” Our team at Marin Weight Loss & Wellness understands that it takes very real effort and treatment. Call the office or book online to start your journey to take control of your life, weight, and health. 

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