What Your Cravings Want You to Know

Find out what your body is trying to tell you.

What Your Cravings Want You to Know

By Reina Berger

If you've ever found yourself craving a cupcake like no tomorrow, it may seem easy to just write it off as a quirky love of sugar or an act of hunger. However, as registered dietitian Maya Feller explains, sometimes when it comes to cravings, our bodies are trying to send messages to us, letting us know which nutrients we need and which conditions we may have. If you want to know what your sugar obsession, salt fixation, or hunger for meat really mean, keep reading.


More: The 3-Day Plan to Shut Down Your Cravings

Sugar

A sugar craving can be due to many different factors that stem further than simply being easily pressured to order dessert by your friends or feeling bored at work and eyeing the box of donuts someone brought in. The brain-sugar connection runs deep, and these cravings can be a sign of a dip in glucose, something that occurs when you are hungry and your brain is urging you to get an energy fix. Since sugar is quickly absorbed and releases dopamine (a neurotransmitter that controls the reward and pleasure centers of the brain), your body can develop an addiction to sugar and constantly crave its next fix. Another reason you may be craving sugar is if you ate a meal heavy in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein, leading to a spike in glucose, or if you just have caffeine and desire something sweet right afterward.

More: Quiz: Are You Addicted to Sugar?

Q: I end up overeating because it makes me feel better and I never really get full. I'd like to lose weight but this makes it hard. Any suggestions?

A: Being persistently hungry can cause big trouble. So can overeating for comfort/pleasure. These two behaviors, say researchers from Baylor University's Children's Nutrition Research Center, are controlled deep within your brain by serotonin-producing neurons, but operate separately from each other — one in the hypothalamus, the other in the midbrain. They both can, however, end up fueling poor nutritional choices and obesity.

Eating for Hunger

When hunger is your motive for eating, the question is: "Does your body know when you've had enough?" Well, if you are overweight, obese or have diabetes you may develop leptin resistance and your "I am full" hormone, leptin, can't do its job. The hormone's signal to your hypothalamus is dampened, and you keep eating.

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