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Health & Wellbeing / Jayne Cherrington-Cook

The Real Reason You’re Craving Chocolate

What’s your PMS craving? Well whether it’s chocolate or a big packet of crisps, your craving might be more than just a desperate desire to stuff your face!

Your cycle

When your oestrogen drops – around weeks three and four of your cycle – your levels of happy hormone serotonin also drop, while cortisol, the stress hormone, starts to rise. You’ll probably find yourself reaching for food that makes your serotonin rise such as pizza, pasta and burgers. Carbohydrates are great for increasing serotonin but stick to the more complex ones like whole-wheat bread or brown pasta and rice to get the same affect without increasing your waistline!

Your body is deficient in something

Sometimes cravings are linked directly to what your body is missing. For example if you find yourself dipping constantly into the freezer for ice cubes, it can be a sign that your body is low in iron. Similarly, a desire to stuff family-sized chocolate bars into your mouth can indicate that your magnesium levels are low.

You’re stress eating

As soon as the body gets stressed, it starts producing cortisol. This hormone not only increases appetite, but also motivation, including the motivation to stuff your face! Many stress-related cravings are for fatty foods or super sweet foods. For a short time these foods stop the part of the brain producing these stressful emotions, however, it’s often only a short-term solution. Stress cravings are better dealt with by doing some exercise or taking time out to relax properly.

Emotions are ruling your food choices

Apparently 75% of all snacking is emotional – something we learn from a young age, when we were rewarded with a sweet treat for being good. This continues into adulthood and whether we’ve had a bad day, are suffering period cramps or just want to reward ourselves for doing something good, it’s easy to fulfil those emotions with food. The secret to recognising these cravings is to try and see what else is going on in your life. If you’re feeling lonely for example, instead of picking up phone and ordering in a large pizza, why not phone some friends instead and have a nice chat?

It’s your genes

For some of us, the fact that we can’t resist a Krispy Kreme doughnut is all due to DNA. A recent Italian study discovered 17 genes related to liking certain foods including bacon, coffee, dark chocolate, ice cream and, white wine. Now you know you can totally blame your Chenin Blanc addiction on your parents…

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