According to recent studies food craving occurs for a variety of reasons like evolution, psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and unhappiness and sometimes a genuine need for certain foods. Junk food cravings are linked to prehistoric times when the brain's opioids and dopamine reacted to the benefit of high-calorie food as a survival mechanism.
Chemicals in the brain like serotonin, which after eating carbohydrates enhances and improves one’s mood. Dopamine and norepinephrine increase concentration after the consumption of proteins. While some neurotransmitters set up an irresistible urge to eat when elevated, others such as increase carbohydrate cravings.
While these factors seem to be our evolutionary and hormonal crosses to bear, our choices for healthy options are much more varied that prehistoric man’s. There are as many organically healthy forms
of “junk foods” that won’t have the deleterious effects of some common brands of sugar and sodium-laden products on the market and nobody wants to end up like Morgan Spurlock in Supersize Me.
Keep in mind that our bodies store the excess fat of junk food in ways that become apparent in our skin over time. Take control of how you sate your desires and choose the peanut butter cracker instead of the candy bar. Instead of salty potato chips, go for one of the delicious organic brands of corn chips. If you’re on the run, opt for one of the many energy bars sold everywhere, nowadays.
In times of stress, take stock of your mental and emotional state and give yourself the downtime and pampering that both your body and mind deserve. So what if you deviate from a normally health regime of diet and exercise to indulge in a comforting binge, it’s not the end of the world. In fact, not all saturated fats are bad for you. But, as we are all aware, overloading on fatty foods can have an adverse affect on your skin and body
Take the time to read labels, singling out sugar and sodium content, and make conscious choices about what goes into your mouth. It isn’t necessary to go completely organic in one fell swoop, but certainly adding more fruit and vegetables to your diet won’t hurt. Why not try preparing a healthy version of your favorite junk food for improved health?
While our cravings may be chemically –driven, there’s no reason not to feed them in a way which is healthy for the body and the mind.
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Antropia Luna has a Bachelors of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute and a Masters degree in cultural anthropology from New Mexico State University--now writing health and wellness articles for Joanna Vargas Skincare. Otherwise-trekking the national museum scene freelance.