All of us have experienced it at one time or another – a sudden and seemingly insatiable craving for junk food at the most odd times. If you have ever found yourself craving a chocolate bar first thing in the morning or potato chips late at night, you are not alone; thousands of people deal with these types of stubbornly persistent cravings. While there is nothing uncommon about having junk food cravings, the real concern for most people is how to handle them when they attack. Since knowing your enemy is half the battle, it is important to identify the causes so that you will be better equipped to fight them off. Below are eight common reasons why we have junk food cravings, along with some remedial steps we can take to combat their ever-present demands.
Reason # 1: Lack of Sleep
Sleep deprivation can have several negative effects on your physical health, not the least of which is an uncanny urge to consume foods that have little to no nutritional value. Scores of studies have been published that reveal a strong link between poor sleep and increased appetites, particularly for salty and sweet foods. Since food is what provides your body with the energy it needs to survive, your body will demand a greater amount of energy after a sleepless night in order to fight off the sluggishness and drowsiness brought on by sleep deprivation.
One study in particular conducted by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley revealed that sleep deprivation effectively shuts off the influence of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for complex decision-making, while at the same time activating a deeper region of the brain that responds to motivation and desire. This combination of increased appetite and lowered inhibitions is like a one-two punch that leads to poor food choices. The main way to stave off this type of problem is to make a conscious decision to stay on a regular sleep schedule as much as possible. Do your best to get between 6 – 8 hours of sleep a night, and try to go to bed at the same time every night as well.