According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) take the lives of 17.7 million people every year. This makes it the number one cause of death globally. Cardiovascular diseases are a group of disorders involving the heart and blood vessels. The most common cardiovascular diseases include coronary heart diseases such as angina, congenital heart disease, and myocardial infarction (heart attack). Other CVDs include heart failure, stroke, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, heart arrhythmia etc.
Physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits, obesity, diabetes, consumption of alcohol and smoking are some of the contributing factors of cardiovascular diseases. These habitual risks are detrimental to good heart health.
Unhealthy eating habits are one factor you can control to protect your heart. Unhealthy eating habits can be a result of incessant food cravings. Food cravings are intense longings for a certain food. They occur in two scenarios: when you haven’t eaten for a few hours or due to an emotional duress like if you are stressed, sad, anxious, or just bored.
Cravings mean a lack of nutrition in your body or an emotional imbalance. They are indicative of what is going on inside your body. By understanding these cravings, you can get an insight into what your body is trying to tell you. Here are some of the most common food cravings that you might experience:
Sometimes you might crave fatty or fried food to satisfy your body’s need to consume fats. With such cravings, you end up indulging in fries, oily and fried food. Instead of eating such foods, you can eat healthier fats. Avocados, whole eggs, fatty fish, almonds, and cashews are some of the healthiest and the most nutritious high-fat foods that allow you to satisfy the craving without exposing yourself to harmful fats.
Also read: 7 Foods that take a toll on your energy
Carbohydrates are vital for your physical and mental health. Restricting your carbohydrate intake can leave your body wanting more, which is why you end up consuming more of them. Also, carbohydrates increase the level of serotonin – a feel-good hormone. Sugary drinks, fruit juices, white bread, pastries etc. are bad carbs you need to avoid. Some good carbs you can incorporate in your diet to satisfy your cravings are vegetables, lentils, almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, oats and brown rice.
Also read: Choose dark chocolate for health benefits
Chocolates are made up of sugars and other refined carbs, which are the key components of processed food that are considered addictive. Dopamine (the happy hormone) is released into the brain when you eat a chocolate. It can also lower stress levels – the main reason why you crave chocolate in the first place.
You can eat dark chocolate in moderation to help control the craving. It is rich in antioxidants which help protect the body from ageing, high blood pressure, and heart diseases. You can also eat fruits to satisfy your sweet tooth.
A deficiency of iron in your body can make you feel lethargic, which can trigger the feeling of craving coffee. Instead of depending on coffee, eat red meat, beans, chickpeas and cereals. If you are still not getting enough iron, these cravings could be a result of an addiction to coffee, so it is better to curb the habit for a few weeks.
Next time when you feel like having a cup of coffee, give yourself a minute and get some extra rest. Take a nap if you want to and complete your sleep schedule to be able to concentrate better.
Craving spicy food could mean that your body needs to cool down. Spicy foods can make you sweat – a way of your body to cool down. Another reason for this craving could be congestion. Also, eating spicy foods can cause the body to release endorphins – a hormone responsible to lift your mood and relieve pain. Spicy food might satisfy your craving but you should not rely on it. Instead, try relaxing by practicing meditation.
Make sure that you add small meals at different time intervals. Eating regular meals and snacking between meals is the best way to fight cravings. To avoid unnecessary increase in calorie intake, you can substitute unhealthy snacks with much healthier options. This will keep you full and you will not end up eating anything which is unhealthy.
If you are not able to control cravings, you should allow yourself to taste a small quantity. Make sure that the quantity you eat is not too much as the food you are eating might have a bad effect on your body.
Make sure you buy more healthy options the next time you go for grocery shopping to have healthier options when the craving strikes. If there is no unhealthy food in the kitchen then automatically cravings for them will reduce. After practicing this regularly, you will notice changes within yourself and your food choices.
Water reduces half of the body problems. It will reduce cravings and boost your metabolism. Drinking plenty of water can help you flush away toxins from your body as well as it will stop you from overeating.
Everyone should do at least 30 minutes of exercise in a day. Exercise is the best and the most efficient way to stay healthy. After working hard on your fitness regimen your desire to eat unhealthy food will definitely decrease. Exercises also help keep cardiovascular diseases at bay. It will reduce your craving and allow your mind to indulge in other activities.
Sleeping is the best way to distract one's mind. Studies say that sleeping controls the level of ghrelin, a hormone that creates the urge to eat. Power naps are very useful in other ways as well. Develop a craving to take a nap to avoid unnecessary snacking.
Do not neglect your cravings; it is your body’s way of telling you that something is missing. So, the next time you crave a chocolate or something spicy, chose a healthy alternative instead of an unhealthy one as these cravings are not good for your heart health.