Cravings

14 May

Sometimes I feel like I am a pregnant woman.

Stay with me here, I’m not trying to freak you out but sometimes I have serious cravings for particular food.  It’s like if I can’t eat three sprinkled donuts in the next five minutes my stomach may eat itself and my head may explode.  This got me thinking what is going on?  How come I can crave a cheeseburger while I am eating dinner? Why are cravings assaulting me irregardless of time of day, or hunger?  Is it the full moon?  Am I some mutant human that craves various foods at various times, morphing me into a über unpleasant person with only one goal in mind?  While I would be ok with that if it gave me X-Ray vision or the ability to fly to the nearest donut shop, I don’t think this is happening.  So I decided to do a little research.

I discovered that the body is really freaking cool.  According to a Discovery Health article, hunger comes from the body while cravings come from the mind.  When you are hungry a hormone called ghrelin is released and tells your mind, specifically the hypothalamus (a really awesome thing that regulates a lot of body functions) to “GET ME FOOD!”  The hypothalamus then tells the rest of the body, “Hey let’s go get some food…” and you can figure out the rest from there.  But when you have a food craving your mind takes over.  It was believed that cravings were your body’s way of getting a specific nutrient, but scientists have recently decided this isn’t the case.  Instead, according to this article, food cravings follow a similar neurological path as drug addiction.  The same part of your brain is used, usually pulling a particular food from a memory and then urging you to get this food.  Once you eat it (usually something sweet in my case) your brain rewards you with dopamine, which is the “feel good hormone.” According to the article “Neurologically speaking, that fast food joint isn’t much different from a person selling drugs.” Hmmm I guess that makes sense, whenever I think about In and Out Burger I do get pretty ravenous and start freaking out that I can’t get it.  This probably helps explain why so many Americans are overweight! Instead of being addicted to drugs, the majority of Americans are addicted to greasy, fatty fast food…and maybe some drugs.  Hey me too! On the food part, not the drug part, unless coffee is a drug, which I am beginning to think it is.

Anyway back to the brain and cravings.  It turns out your cravings and taste preferences for different foods are created in the WOMB! That’s right, if you hate tomatoes, thank your mom.  During the second trimester your sense of taste and smell develop based off what your mom was eating.  And if your mom was more adventurous while she was pregnant, eating a variety of food, when you born you were probably more open to trying new foods!  Crazy.

It turns out another big portion of cravings come from memory.  After all you can’t really crave something you have never had.  I think you can crave a combination of foods you have never had, but that bacon and ice cream combo you are thinking of is made up of two different tastes you already know and love.  That is why I crave In and Out Burger I think, because every time I have had it I was on vacation.

So what are the consequences?

Well food addicts, like drug addicts constantly increase the amount of their given vice to get that “high”, meaning every time you give into your food cravings for donuts, or cheeseburgers you are lifting your threshold higher so next time you will need to eat three burgers instead of two to get the same content feeling (dopamine).  I don’t know how true this is though because every time I give into a donut craving I can still only eat 2-3, not 4-5, but maybe I don’t give in often enough to make a difference.  It is crazy to me that food = drugs for some people.  Actually not some people, most people.  It is a vicious circle too because the foods we crave are so easily/quickly accessed and so cheaply purchased. I am blessed by the fact that I get to be married to a nutritionist, who has totally changed my eating habits, and made me more aware of what I am eating, too bad everyone couldn’t be married to one.  I think it also helpful to be active, it is hard to survive a long training ride on donuts and cheeseburgers.  I think I would die.

So what does all this mean?

Well for me it means that food cravings are normal.  Everyone has them, it just varies from person to person on how often you indulge.  Kaleigh is always saying “Everything in moderation.” To try to live your life without ever giving into your food cravings is just plain stupid.  You will be miserable.  In fact if you are on a diet or trying to lose weight giving in every once in a while will make you more successful in the long run.  Think about it this way, if you can have one snickers bar a week then you will be less likely to break down one day and eat a gallon of ice cream.  It also means that the body is AMAZING! There are so many complex reactions and processes going on every second it makes it hard for me to understand how people can’t acknowledge that some greater power is responsible.  It all works to perfectly, at least in my opinion.  Lastly it means Kaleigh’s teachings are rubbing off on me.  Before I met her I wouldn’t have cared what I ate as long as it tasted good, but now I am reading labels at grocery stores and am trying to get rid of processed foods…except for the occasional donut!

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: