Cravings vs impulses: What are you guilty of?

Esta é uma leitura que fiz para me conscientizar (mais uma vez) sobre consumir comida compulsivamente. Hoje faço isso de maneira crônica, e apesar de geralmente ser comida de verdade (frutas, chocolate com alto teor de cacau) acredito fazer mal para o organismo consumir tanto em tão pouco tempo. E o pior: sem estar de fato sentindo o alimento consumido.

Esse estudo contém vários insights curiosos, mas nenhum link para pesquisa. Posso usar como um guia informal. É quase um blog de fofoca, pois sem referências fica difícil acreditar em tantas afirmações. Bem-vindo ao jornalismo do século 21.

No entanto, como tudo o que nos é empurrado goela abaixo, existe uma forma de saber se é verdade: faça o teste.



“Cravings start with a trigger. This could be external, such as the scent of chocolate chip cookies. Or it could be internal, such as being angry or bored. Second, you elaborate on these thoughts by using mental imagery, and this is what turns it into a full-fledged craving.” To banish the craving, you need to interrupt this process. One approach is to practise mindfulness, accept the thoughts and move on. Another is to try to suppress the thoughts altogether by distracting yourself.

“A food impulse, on the other hand, is the urgent need to overeat large portions of a particular food within a few minutes and later, experience guilt and shame. These sudden impulses mostly occur after a stress-induced activity, physical and mental.

“An impulse can also be the result of restricting sugary or fatty comfort foods over a period of time.”

Differences Food cravings are physiological responses that arise due to imbalances in hormone levels or alterations in chemicals that link the digestive system and the brain. Food impulses are more psychological which develop due to imbalances in the neurochemicals of the brain that regulate mood, appetite and memory.

Food cravings are more of a core component of food addiction and food impulse is a component of emotional eating disorder.

A food impulse is more intensive to manage than a craving.

“Since a food impulse is more mood /emotion driven, it can become more challenging for a person to continue the day without finding an alternative way. They can be chronic and recurrent affecting a person’s emotional well-being,” said Vinolia.

Neurochemicals like endorphins, opioids, serotonin and dopamine control our reward-seeking behaviours like overeating. When an imbalance in hormone levels or in these neurochemicals occurs, the brain creates triggers that are similar to hunger.

Brain’s role in food impulses Living a stressful lifestyle increases the level of cortisol, known as stress hormone. This hormone causes the brain to increase appetite as the body constantly needs energy to combat stress. Increased cortisol levels and the deficiency of these feel-good chemicals trigger a sudden food impulse, an urgent need to eat a particular food which our brain associates with reward and pleasure.

Biochemically, food cravings happen the same way as substance addiction and alcoholism.

a) Deficiency of essential amino acids like tyrosine and tryptophan leads to reduced synthesis of the neurochemicals that control the reward centre of our brain.

b) Excessive intake of refined sugars blunt the brain’s receptors for receiving signals from neurotransmitters that induce happiness.

c) Lack of sleep and an unhealthy lifestyle alter hormones like ghrelin, leptin and insulin which play a major role in controlling appetite and induce cravings.

h) Most people interpret thirst as hunger and food craving.

i) During pregnancy, depression, fear or anxiety, the body is in a physiological reaction of fight and flight response where the brain turns on the mode for all hormones and chemicals to be in an energy demanding and conservation state. These brain signals translate as food cravings and impulses.

j) Psychologically, food has a higher impact on sensory receptors of the brain. For example, craving for home-cooked food at the time of sickness equals comfort. Chocolates and cakes equal reminder of celebrations.

Food craving Triggered by: Hormones and body chemicals What happens: Urge to eat particular foods; usually these foods are highly sugary, fatty, salty or spicy and are usually instant or junk foods. Result: Feeling satisfied within 2 servings.

Impulse Triggered by: Emotion/mood/stress What happens: Tendency to feel hungry intensely and suddenly. There shall be a lack of patience or desire to self-cook and consume those foods wanted during an impulse. Result: Ordering/portioning large quantities and consuming it all at once.

True hunger Triggered by: Body’s need for energy. What happens: The feeling of true hunger is gradual and slow. One feels more relaxed and does not feel very choosy with one particular food and might take time to decide his meal. Result: Mindful eating and achieving satiety.

Manage PMS cravings mindfully: Include serotonin-rich foods and see your cravings fade away. Examples: Eggs, dairy, fish, banana, nuts, dates, chocolates.

Change the environment: If you are determined, once your craving sets the alarm, just take a 5-minute walk or change your location which will divert your mind.

Confuse your senses: Taking a whiff of your favourite perfume or chewing gum can trick your senses.

Record your cravings: A recent study showed that cognitive defusion by accepting cravings and noting this in a diary increased the possibility of curbing the cravings.

Slow breathing: Another 2017 psychology study showed paced breathing either at 6 or 9 breaths per minute while watching a picture of the favourite food curbed the craving within 2 minutes.

Drink water or herbal tea: Chilled water can trigger curbing effects on our brain. Chewing gum can also be another way to curb cravings.

Giving in for cravings all the time can lead to emotion-driven eating disorder.

It becomes harder for the brain to control appetite and hunger.

Food cravings gradually lead to food addictions, by blunting the serotonin and dopamine receptors of the brain which induce happiness resulting in low moods and depression.

Choosing sugary foods add stress on insulin leading to insulin resistance, hormonal imbalance and PCOS.

Giving in for frequent cravings make weight-loss efforts a failure.

Frequent exposure to the craving triggers or cues and not addressing the cravings has shown to reduce the future occurrence of cravings.

Consume water or just ignore the craving will make the brain dissociate popcorn with movies.

Aversion therapy: When a craving arises in association with an action, choosing foods which we dislike makes the brain decode the associations.

“Thoughts come and go,” Hormes says. “You don’t have to linger on them. You certainly don’t have to act on them.”

Cravings are transient — think about a wave that rises up and levels off after some time — which is why different strategies work to ‘ride the wave’ until it’s gone.”

Unexpectedly, high trait chocolate cravers successfully reduced their elevated chocolate thoughts in the suppression condition. This lends support for the use of thought suppression as a means of regulating unwanted thoughts, cravings and imagery.

the Food Craving Acceptance and Awareness Questionnaire (FAAQ), the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire (DEBQ), the White Bear Suppression Inventory (WBSI; a measure of thought suppression), and the reduced version of the Food Craving Questionnaire- Trait (FCQ-T-r).

The elaborated-intrusion theory of desire proposes that craving is a two-stage process whereby initial intrusions about a desired target are subsequently elaborated with mental imagery.

Guided imagery reduced chocolate-related thoughts, intrusiveness, vividness and craving intensity for chocolate cravers (Experiment 2), but not for the general sample (Experiment 1).

Wanderley Caloni, 2022-07-31 17:16:50 -0300

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