Imprisoned by food cravings, few of us know the hormonal reasons why the foods we love may be harming us. Say what? Yes, when a food reaction (subtle allergy) happens, it can set up a pattern of craving for that same food. Then we can get stuck in a downward spiral.
This is not to say we should never eat chocolate.
Only to get a handle on what’s happening in the body when our cravings take over.
From the book, False Fat Diet by Dr Elson Haas MD – I am paraphrasing pg 51 – 55:
In a healthy person eating nonreactive foods, the hormones and nerves send signals to the hypothalamus that the stomach is full and the body has a new supply of blood sugar. Then insulin carries blood sugar into the cells, to give you energy. Serotonin is released, making you feel calm and satisfied.
However if you have a food reaction (no matter how subtle it seems), the whole symphony of hormones breaks down.
Reactive foods trigger the inflammatory response, causing water to rush into cells and tissues (swelling and bloating); the body goes into distress. In response to this trauma, you release endorphins, which momentarily give you relief, fulfillment, or even a “high” for minutes or hours.
Soon the endorphin high wears off, and you feel depleted, wanting more of the same reactive food so you can feel good again.
Meanwhile, also in response to the trauma, adrenal hormones are released (adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol), boosting energy level and mood, and making your heart beat faster. (Faster heart rate after eating is one indication of a food reaction.)
But the adrenal rush fades, and you slump into fatigue, irritability, and lethargy. This makes you want to eat more of the reactive food to feel ‘up’ again.
Hormonal disturbances throw your insulin off, causing a drastic decrease in the blood sugar entering your cells. So the cells are still hungry.
Now you have a drop in blood sugar, adrenaline, and endorphins — everything dropping, you are desperate to eat. Even worse, as part of the inflammatory response, now your serotonin levels drop. In healthy metabolism serotonin brings contentment and shuts off hunger. But with this food reaction, serotonin drops, and you feel dissatisfied and hungry again.
Plus: carbohydrates help serotonin move into the brain, so the brain may crave extra carbs to bring in more of the dwindling serotonin. Just another reason why millions of people crave sweets and starches.
So a food reaction sets up a roller coaster of hormonal rides and a vicious cycle of cravings. The person wants to eat more of the same food to maintain the hormonal high and feed the still-hungry cells (since the blood sugar didn’t go into the cells very well).
Cravings are only half the problem, because food reactions badly damage the metabolism by:
-slowing the metabolic rate
-increasing hormones that cause weight gain
-creating hypoglycemia (low blood sugar into cells)
No wonder we feel inspired to clean up our diet and avoid those reactive foods, despite the way they confine us and demand to be eaten.
We can heal our digestive system and nurture our bodies well, to a point where we truly enjoy healthy foods. Food tastes can and will change toward life-enhancing choices, if we wish to steer ourselves in that direction.
– Diane Stallings joystream.net 1/2013