Are food cravings nature or nurture? According to researchers, they're a little bit of both!
Food cravings that are due to nature could have to do with foods your ancestors grew up eating, for one. Certain regions of the world eat more of one food and less of another, and over time our body adapts and naturally begins to crave these foods. Things like that are not in our control.
There is also going to a difference with the way your digestive system works with certain foods. When we are not exposed to a certain type of food for awhile (or over the long term in an ancestrial line of thinking) our body sometimes stops producing the enzymes needed to digest the food. One common example is milk. If you stop drinking milk for awhile, you quite often struggle to digest it when you resume. This normally is a temporary condition, however many people are born without the ability to digest the sugar in milk called lactose. For these individuals, nature is affecting the foods they can comfortably eat.
So, what does nurure and food cravings look like? For example, maybe you always crave pizza on Fridays because when you were growing up, Friday was pizza night - it was the end of the week and everyone was relaxed and happy. Therefore, pizza, Friday and good feelings were lumped together in your mind.
The good news is that if you can uncouple the food from the feels, you can dissipate your cravings, according to Martin Binks, PhD. associate professor and director of the Nutrition and Metabolic Health Initiative at Texas Tech.
One way to do this is through mindfulness and being more present when you're eating. Put your fork down between bites. Note how the bite tastes and feels in your mouth. Chew thoroughly and experience the sensations. You also can replace your craved food with something else, such as a cup of tea or a healthy snack, and while you eat it, create a new food memory by noting who is around you and what you smell, hear and see.
Our minds are malleable - we can change how we act in the future by teaching ourselves the new habits we wish to form. Adapt well! If you'd like some more guidance and support in this area, check out our Nutrition Consultations with our Certified Nutritionists!
I cover lots of great ideas to help you deal with food cravings in my new book Change Your Weighs. A copy on kindle costs less than a lunch out!