The real rea­son be­hind your crav­ings

Sci­ence ex­plains our de­sire for that ever tempt­ing salt-fat-sugar combo – and how you can stop it

Prevention (Australia) - - In This Issue - BY STEPHANIE OSFIELD

Pic­ture this: an of­fice party with an ar­ray of food to choose from. There’s a plate filled with slices of colour­ful veg and hu­muus along­side a big bowl of potato chips – it may take a sec­ond or two to de­cide, but be­fore you know it you are munch­ing away on the en­tic­ing, crunchy salti­ness of those chips. And boy, are they good!

You may think you are in control (it’s a spe­cial oc­ca­sion and only a hand­ful, you tell your­self ) but that in­ter­nal ar­gu­ment of ‘good’ food ver­sus ‘bad’ has no power over the pull of the crav­ings we all ex­pe­ri­ence. Crav­ings have noth­ing to do with hunger or our need for nu­tri­ents, rather, as sci­ence has shown, it’s ac­tu­ally all about a salt-fat-sugar combo that’s too tempt­ing for the brain to say no.

Much has been made in re­cent times of the ad­dic­tive pull of sugar, and how it trig­gers a re­lease of dopamine, the brain chem­i­cal as­so­ci­ated with feel­ings of plea­sure, the same re­sponse that is ac­ti­vated by drugs such as co­caine and am­phet­a­mines.

And now, new re­search by Yale Univer­sity in the US shows how foods that com­bine fat and car­bo­hy­drates (think pro­cessed foods such as chips) ex­ert an even stronger lure over our brains than sugar. It’s no won­der your fo­cus moves from those healthy ve­g­ies and dip to that bowl filled with crunchy crisps.

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