Thursday, January 24, 2008

Your Cravings Decoded

Well, some of you have been waiting for this quite patiently-and I appreciate it-since I've been a little busy lately. Let's just get to it.

Chocolate: Obviously if you need chocolate right around "that time of the month" it is due to hormone changes in the body. If you are stressed or down, chocolate can raise serotonin levels which help you feel better. Another reason for the chocolate need might be a shortage of B vitamins and/or magnesium.

What to do? Yoga or a punching bag for stress, extra B vitamin and magnesium supplements, and for doctors to figure out how to take away our menstrual cycles forever! And in the mean time a dark chocolate bar shared with a friend is a good fix.

Sugar in the form of ice cream, peanut butter cups, cereal, or other treats: A craving for carbohydrates have been linked to low serotonin and endorphin levels. Also feeling down or depressed has been linked to sugar cravings. Another reason for needing sugar is the vicious cycle sugar puts us through. Say you have a bowl of ice cream after finally getting the kids to bed for the night. You feel really great for a while but then the sugar rush takes a DIVE. What that leaves us with is a feeling of low energy or a bad mood. In order to give us that high again we crave sugar....again. Vicious cycle for sure!

What to do? Well you could give in to this cycle if it works for you. If not you could try a couple things. St. Johns Wart and B vitamins have been shown to help improve mood and serotonin levels. Another option would be to eliminate all sugar from your diet. After about 3 weeks you will no longer crave that sugar fix. During the 3 weeks is pure hell, but may be worth it. Another option is to just eliminate sugar and other high glycemic carbs after 6pm. Instead feast on protein and healthy fats to help stop the sugar craving cycle. But the best idea just may be exercise. Exercise has been shown to elevate mood and endorphins, increase serotonin levels and best of all burn calories. When that craving hits take a walk, go to the gym, or do some jumping jacks right in your kitchen. If all else fails, have the sugar and enjoy every moment of it!

Diet Coke: This one was a little tougher. Craving and needing a Diet Coke is mental for sure (you want something sweet but with no calories), but it is also a physical addiction. Sure it has no calories but your body wants those calories and when it tastes something sweet but doesn't get any energy from it, it searches for something to feed on. So, you have another Diet Coke as soon as you can. Again, another cycle. According to a 2005 report from a scientist at the University of Texas, people who drink a lot of diet pop are more likely to become overweight than people who drink sugared soda. The study tracked weight gain among 1,177 people over seven to eight years. At the beginning, none of the participants were obese. By the end of the study, the risk of becoming obese had increased by 41 percent for each can of diet soft drink subjects drank per day. For each level of consumption (less than one half can a day, one half to one can a day, one to two cans a day, or more than two cans a day), diet soft drink users had a higher risk of being overweight than people who drank regular soft drinks.

What to do? Drink the Diet Coke but try to limit to just one a day. There is still a debate about the health risks and/or benefits of diet sodas. So just use your best judgement...I trust ya.


Bethany said...

Leisa, I really liked reading that list. Sugar is sure a killer. I also wanted to let you know I have been doing your leg circuit and I really like it. Someday I will have skinny legs!

Leisa said...

Good for you Beth! Make sure you are sore after every workout. If you are not, just add more weight. Don't be afraid of heavy weight!