Unfortunately, cravings are natural and no matter what we do, we’ll still end up with a hankering for that sweet treat, a salty snack or even an occasional, seemingly weird, urge for a particular food or beverage. Food cravings are both biologically generated and mentally and emotionally driven.
In each of us, our stomach signals to our brain that it’s time to eat, by way of the vagus nerve. The stomach produces increasing levels of the “hunger hormone” or ghrelin, as it completes its digestion processes and as blood sugar and insulin levels drop. The ghrelin hormone signals the hypothalamus in the brain that it’s time to start consuming nutrients again. The hypothalamus in turn releases the substance, neuropeptide Y, stimulating the feeling of hunger. This process is one of sustenance and not necessarily of craving. As such, we can’t change the biology behind this process without serious pharmaceutical interference–and we wouldn’t want to! Some have argued that cravings are a result of the body fulfilling a particular need—whether it is for protein, fats, carbohydrates or simply glucose. Though no one really knows exactly why we crave certain foods, most experts agree that cravings aren’t normally targeting an actual need.
We don’t necessarily need what we are craving in order to function at our best, why do we crave certain foods, particularly sweets? Unlike other animals, we have many varieties of foods to choose from. We’re not limited to the foods in our immediate area or just what are laid in front of us. The availability of sugars, carbohydrates and even fatty meats are significant factors in the development of our cravings.
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