The most common foods we crave are sugar, carbohydrates, chocolate, salt, and cheese. What causes these cravings and how do they influence you?
Low levels of serotonin
If you’re feeling down, you can have strong cravings for carbs and sugar. That’s because serotonin is a feel-good neurotransmitter produced mainly in the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Eating carbohydrates and sugar temporarily increases the release of serotonin making us feel great. A low serotonin level can be due to a variety of things, such as poor gut health, alcohol consumption, depression, anxiety, and more.
Eating carbs, sugar, chocolate, and maybe even salt increases the
production of endorphins, which are human-produced opiates that make us feel good. They’re also produced during sleep and exercise. We want more of that happy feeling—so, we start craving lots of unhealthy foods when we’ve feeling down.
A wonky gut
Low serotonin levels are linked to cravings and your gut is the center of serotonin production. To maintain feel-good levels of serotonin, your gut needs to be functioning correctly so that it can absorb nutrients from your food and pump
out the right amount of serotonin. This greatly depends on healthy levels of
digestive enzymes and the proper balance of good bacteria. When bad bacteria overpowers good bacteria, there’s a strong chance that your cravings may overpower you.
Sadness, boredom, stress, poor self-esteem, negative body image, and more may cause you to crave unhealthy food options. Choosing a healthier food for
the time being or opting for a mood-boosting activity may give you enough satisfaction in the moment while the craving passes.
What can you do to stop these unhealthy cravings? Read our top tips for battling bad cravings here: 5 Tips for Tackling Unhealthy Food Cravings