dr. Grace J.K. MSc, MH, CHT.

15 December 2016

How to Handle A Food Craving

Food Craving or selective hunger is the desire to eat a certain type of food that is perhaps a signal the body sends when it lacks a particular nutrient.

The cause of food craving, or selective hunger, can be hormonal, emotional or a combination of biochemical processes in the body that usually happen to women during their period, during pregnancy or to people in distress.

But there is another kind of food craving due to a bad habit of eating excessive amounts of salt, sugar and fat, so that the body can no longer say when to stop.

Bad eating habits — that might have begun in childhood — can lead to food addiction, which in the case of Indonesia pertains mostly to processed carbs, such as fritters wrapped in flour, noodles, chips and soft drinks that are high on salt and sugar content besides rice as the main staple food.

People suffering from food addiction run the gamut of symptoms while craving something: from headaches and an inability to concentrate to mood swings.

A food addict doesn’t eat to fill the need for energy or nutrients but for comfort and pleasure, since salt and sugar do have a calming effect on the body. Most of us don’t realize that this is actually happening.

According to Health Ministry data, carb addiction is found in 75 percent of obese people and in 40 percent of people with normal weight.

There were two methods individuals could employ to control their eating habits. One is to reflect on themselves to find out whether the desire to eat comes from a sense of pleasure recorded in memory, a need of comfort or from a need of energy and nutrients.

If that fails, just make sure you eat half a plate of fruits and greens, a quarter of carb sources, preferably whole grains, and another quarter of protein sources, such as white meat and beans, when craving some food.


Eating is about the decision you make, just make sure you make the right choice with these six steps:

  1. Watch your daily consumption of salt, sugar and fat. Consume food with a lower Glycemic Index (GI) to control blood sugar.
  2. Types of food with a low GI level (55 or less): whole wheat bread or black wheat; oatmeal, oat bran or muesli; pasta, rice, barley and bulgur; sweet potato, corn, taro potato, peanut butter, peas, legumes and lentils; fruits and vegetables;
  3. Types of food with a medium GI level (56-69): whole grain bread, rye or pita bread, instant oatmeal; brown, wild or basmati rice and couscous;
  4. Types of food with high GI level (70 and above): white bread or bagel; corn flakes, rice puffs, bran flakes; cheese and macaroni; potato and pumpkin; pretzels, rice cake, popcorn, salty biscuits; melon and pineapple.
  5. Switch to lower-calorie food: When craving, replace the food you like to eat with a similar product that contains fewer calories. Instead of munching on a chocolate bar that contains 1,146 calories, drink a glass of chocolate that only has 88 calories.
  6. Read index nutrition: It is advised to learn what’s inside a packet of food by reading nutrition information on the packaging.


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