Sometimes, the urge to eat an entire bag of chips in one sitting is more than just hunger run amok. According to Neurobiologist Alan Hirsh, a cravings expert and author of What Flavor is Your Personality, there’s actually a biological need behind some of your most intense food cravings!
- If you crave salty snacks like chips or French fries, the real problem might be a mineral deficiency. Studies show that when our bodies are low in calcium we tend to crave salty foods. Why? Because the sodium in salty treats temporarily raises the level of calcium in the blood, making your body think it’s getting the minerals it needs. Not eating enough of other minerals has the same result. Researchers have found that animals that are low in potassium and iron, all head straight for the salt. So, instead of eating a salty snack, take a multi-vitamin to get all your essential minerals.
- If all you can think about is chocolate, you’re probably in need of an emotional pick-me-up. Your body craves chocolate when you’re feeling down because certain chemicals in chocolate activate serotonin, the “feel good hormone,” which acts like an anti-depressant. So, if you want chocolate and sweets, then you’re probably rundown and depressed, and would be better off taking a walk. In a University of Wisconsin study, walking was found to be as effective as psychotherapy for treating depression!
- If a spicy burrito is on your mind, then your body might be trying to cool off. It sounds weird, but spicy foods turn on your body’s cooling mechanism, making you perspire. Researchers have recently found that there’s another reason people reach for the Tabasco. Hot food, like peppers, contain capsaicin, which causes an endorphin rush that’s about as intense as the high runners get after a few miles. This is one craving that’s fine to indulge in. Spicy foods speed up the metabolism and make you feel fuller faster. Other studies have found that eating chilies reduces stress, and even wrinkles.