DiettoGo.com reader Sally K. recently asked me this interesting question: Are there gender differences with regard to food cravings?
YES Sally... there are important differences regarding our biological needs, which create different cravings.
Estrogen causes cravings for fat/sugar combinations to create our beautiful breasts, hips and thighs, which aid us during pregnancy. Testosterone creates cravings for fat/protein combinations to build strong muscles for the "hunt."
Doesn't it ring true that women want their sweets but men want their steaks?
See, it's not our fault; it's hormonal!
Additionally, women have lower levels of serotonin, the brain chemical which regulates calmness, wellbeing and depression. Precursors of serotonin are found in carbohydrates.
Do you know of any women who binge on pork chops when stressed? Never! It's always carbs!
Flooding the body with serotonin-producing substances calms us down even though it doesn't solve our problems. Cravings seem psychological because they're biological.
Ever notice that some premenstrual women will do anything to get their hands on some carbs? It's because serotonin levels drop during PMS.
Understanding biological needs helps us to work with our bodies rather than against them.
Fighting natural instincts might set us up for failure. It is wiser to program in the foods we love, while keeping an eye on weekly caloric totals as well as balanced nutrition.
Of course not all fat, carbohydrates and proteins are created equal.
For instance, complex carbohydrates contain fiber, which keeps blood sugar stable and fends off cravings for much longer periods than simple sugars. However, eating an apple when you really want apple pie might just be adding calories when you end up having the pie, too!
Working with our cravings makes good sense biologically and psychologically. Consider this permission to indulge in whatever you really want, cuz it's gonna getcha sooner or later! Planning helps to manage calories appropriately.
Dr. Abby graduated from Columbia University, and holds 2 masters degrees and a Ph.D. She is a member of the American Psychological Association and Mensa. As a psychologist in private practice for 16 years she helped people with a wide variety of concerns, and has spoken on many topics related to weight loss, mental health, parenting and relationships. Dr. Abby is also president of DAA, Inc. For information regarding coaching, speaking, or therapeutic products, please visit her website at www.DearDrAbby.com.