When it comes to food cravings, you're either the type to crave something sweet after dinner or a salty snack mid-day. For some of us, it's both.
One reason people get sugar cravings, for example, is due to levels of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, says registered dietitian Nicole Osinga of Oshawa, Ont..
"Sugars, like other simple carbohydrates, signal the body to release serotonin, which boosts your mood."
But cravings can also be the result of not eating a nutrient-dense diet.
"Regular consumption of foods high in sugar is often a result of habit and association, which lead to neurochemical changes in the brain that can hardwire you to crave these types of foods," Osinga adds.
If you often crave sugar after a meal, it could mean you're mainly eating carbohydrates. And if you're indulging in these sugary cravings, it can lead to an imbalance of protein, fat and carbohydrates, she adds.
Salt can work similarly. One 2011 study found salt was not only addictive, but it also affected our brains in a similar way to being addicted to cigarettes or hard drugs. Other studies have also found the same effect for sugar.
But cravings are one thing — it's actually consuming the food that can be damaging to your body. And excess consumption of processed foods (which is generally what people crave) can lead to other health issues like high blood pressure or weight gain.
"Try to always balance your carbohydrate intake with a protein or a fat and always read labels to check out the sodium and sugar amounts in what you’re consuming," she says.
If you are having a hard time pinpointing exactly how to fix your cravings in a healthy way, this infographic below by Bookatable has great nutritious alternatives to most types of cravings — pasta and bread, caffeine, fast food and even alcohol.
You can also find more infographics at Visualistan
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