Are they Psychological or Physiological?
A bit of both would be about the right answer. Psychological cravings usually originate from our childhood or even in the womb. Our childhood memories of apple crumble and custard for example are brought to the fore when we feel the need or urge to fill any void or issues we may have in our lives. When we experience these feelings, we turn to what gives us comfort, hence the term comfort foods.
Physiological cravings generally originate from either foods that have opiate peptides sometimes referred to as exorphins (e.g. breads, dairy products) or when you are stressed or sleep deprived. Stress and sleep deprivation elevate cortisol levels, kicking off a cascade of hormonal events. High cortisol levels interfere with insulin’s ability to do its job of shuttling glucose to the muscles for energy. When this is disrupted, you have less energy, which in turn leads you to feel cravings and a higher propensity to overeat.
Women often experience cravings when menstruating due to hormonal fluctuations.
As oestrogen levels fluctuate, so do levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The body wants to keep these levels even, so it turns on the fight or flight response, causing us, the innocent bystanders of this whole thing, to crave carbohydrates and fat. Bring on the ice cream and crisps.
But there’s another culprit here; serotonin. Serotonin is that brain chemical that increases feelings of contentment. Foods can trigger serotonin, as can exercise and other lifestyle factors. If cortisol, the stress hormone is high, and serotonin is low, we’ll crave simple carbohydrates and fats, usually sugary treats like sweets and chocolate. This is because these simple carbs will up our serotonin fast. If cortisol is elevated, but serotonin is normal, we’ll crave carbs and fat, but not necessarily that sugary treat. You may find you crave croissants or bagels loaded with cream cheese. Now that those cravings make sense, we can adjust our eating habits to curb the craving without completely destroying out healthy diet plans.
There are steps you can take to avoid this act of nature sabotaging your weight loss aspirations.
The Fat Loss Puzzle deals with both the mental and physical induced urges and shows you how to keep your long term weight loss goals on track.