This past summer, Dr. Ali Ghahary shared an article on how to crush food cravings. Cravings can happen for a number of reasons. They can be hormonal (such as if a woman is pregnant or during her menstrual cycle), emotional (also known as “stress eating” or “emotional eating”), and can also be caused by a lack of water (such as dehydration), or due to nutritional deficiencies (which includes a lack of macro and micronutrients.) Healthy eating is something that Dr. Ghahary strongly promotes and encourages everyone to do – because the healthier you eat, the better you will feel. You’ll also improve your overall quality of life. In order to keep food cravings at bay, it’s important to be mindful of what you eat as this will help you to distinguish the difference between actual hunger and cravings, and give you better insight into your eating habits.

To get a better understanding as to what foods Canadians were craving the most, when, and what their potential triggers were, Dr. Ghahary recently asked individuals to participate in a 5-question survey, which asked the following:

• Do you tend to crave foods that are on the salty or sweet side?
• What time of day do you find yourself craving foods the most?
• What triggers your cravings?
• Have unhealthy food cravings impacted your health in any way?
• How do you stop yourself from indulging in the foods you crave?

When It came to which types of foods people seemed to crave the most, 45.5% of individuals who participated in the survey said they craved salty foods and 31.8% said they craved foods that were sweet, while 36.4% said they craved a mix of both.

When it came to the time of day in which people found themselves craving these foods, 47.6% said their cravings would usually develop in the evenings, while 28.6% said they developed cravings in the afternoons, and just 23.8% in the mornings. Some survey responders also that said their cravings were sporadic and didn’t necessarily happen at any particular or specific time of day. As for what triggered their cravings, the most common answers were stress and anxiety, followed by pregnancy and boredom.

Individuals also stated that food cravings – particularly those who liked sugary foods – have had negative impacts on their health, especially their weight. This comes as no surprise, as sugar is high in fructose, which is not a natural part of the body’s metabolism. Furthermore, fructose can also lead to insulin resistance as well as resistance to a hormone known as leptin. When we become resistant to this hormone, it tricks the brain into thinking it’s hungry and needs to eat more when that’s not actually the case. It’s also possible to become addicted to sugar, as studies have shown it to lead to neurochemical changes similar to the effects of substance abuse (i.e. illicit drugs such as cocaine.) Combined, all of this makes sugar cravings a perfect recipe for weight gain and obesity. In addition, survey responders also mentioned that their food cravings led to things like cavities and diabetes.

As for how individuals stopped themselves from indulging in the foods they craved, many of the responses were all about having willpower and determination to make healthier choices, while others said they would try to distract themselves with different activities such as exercise, reading, listening to music, or spending their free time with friends and family.

** Note: Survey results are non-scientific. **