Have you ever woken up with a wild food craving that just won’t quit? Well, science has something to say about that craving and fighting the urge, may just be out of your control without the proper tool box of knowledge to combat it. There are a couple of variables that come into play regarding why it’s so hard to fight the urge and they are all super interesting. Today we are going to look at brain chemistry, nutrient deficiencies, and lastly emotions.
First up, let’s talk about the intricacy of your brain for all of you science lovers. Studies from the Monell Chemical Senses Center found that certain regions of the brain called the hippocampus, insula, and caudate (wow that is a mouth full) – are activated when you crave foods. Your brain is a pleasure seeker and has a memory! This can work for you and also against you depending on your taste buds, your nutritional levels, and your emotional state.
Much like that cozy memory foam on your bed, your brain knows what will temporarily give you those feel good feels, and unfortunately it isn’t always what’s good for you nutritionally. In later blogs I will get into a bunch of different theories about various foods and how they are like crack to addicts, but for now just know you aren’t crazy when that chocolate cake keeps calling your name.
Did you know that not all cravings are out to get you? On the contrary some actually equate to nutritional deficiencies. As someone that always struggles with anemia, I can personally tell you that there is something called pica. I found myself one day walking through Home Depot craving the taste of some non-food items. Likewise, I developed a habit of chewing ice. Before you think I went off off the deep end, let me explain. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, pica cravings for non-food items like dirt is extremely common and are directly linked to B-12, folate, and/or iron deficiency. Don’t worry nobody actually eats these crazy items, they just smell appetizing.
Luckily not all cravings are off the wall. For example, according to Prevention Magazine “low magnesium levels, specifically, are known to trigger chocolate cravings.” Likewise craving sugary items like donuts can be a combination of your body lacking chromium and other vital nutrients. The facts show that you don’t always crave what you need, so running to grab a Snickers Bar is just putting a bandaid on what is truly the problem. I urge you to become more aware of your cravings and feed your body what it truly needs, healthy supplementation. Check out this neat chart below.
Finally your emotional state plays a huge role also. Remember serotonin is made in the gut not in the brain. During times of high stress and anxiety your body will crave serotonin boosting foods that include carbohydrate rich items. To avoid more stress from weight gain, make sure to pick wise complex carbs vs simple carbs to avoid blood sugar fluctuation.