Why We Crave Unhealthy Foods

The ancient adage "if it tastes good, it must be fattening" has a lot to answer for. Take any list of favourite meals, and there's a good chance that the bulk of them are unhealthy. We have an instinctual need for meals that are, on balance, not the greatest choice for us - they are harmful, lack nutrients, and often do not adequately fill our bellies – but we keep returning for whatever reason. Why do we have such a strong desire for unhealthy foods?

There's no denying that food that isn't especially nutritious has a certain allure. This allure isn't necessarily reflected in the way the meal tastes. It's sometimes a matter of convenience - if you're at a football game, for example.
Sugar has a "opiate-like" effect on our brain, which satisfies our emotional demands and helps us relax in times of stress or worry, according to studies. You may be asking why we prefer unhealthy meals rather than greens such as spinach, broccoli, or other greens. 

The solution is straightforward: serotonin. Our bodies want serotonin to help balance our brain chemistry, which can be disrupted by stress and worry. Refined carbs, such as cookies, chips, and other sweets, cause a short-term increase in serotonin, which is why we seek items we don't normally crave, such as veggies.

Chances are that the snack options will not include a nutritious casserole, but rather burgers, hot dogs, and a variety of other things that will do more harm than good to your waistline. It might be as simple as the way a cuisine smells — find someone who doesn't like the smell of fried onions and you might have discovered extraterrestrial life.

Most of the time, we simply crave bad food because it is convenient. We're so used to it that we don't even need to sit down to eat it or match it with the perfect side dish. It's simple and delicious. What we need to do is get to a place where we can discover a healthy alternative that is just as convenient. For many people, a sandwich is the greatest option in this situation - as long as there isn't too much butter on it, that is!

So, while there is no scientific evidence to support food cravings, we do know that emotions play a significant influence.
Remember that the next time you see someone shovelling apple pie down their throat, it's not because of a lack of nutrition in their system, but because their hormones are out of control.
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