Every year at the end of summer I crave carbs.
I realized that I have been spending more time in the bread aisle of the supermarket lately. As I was putting a 6-pack of crumpets and a loaf of sourdough bread into my basket two things sprung to mind
1. Why am I buying two bread items?
2. What butter should I buy to go with this bread?
I wasn’t shopping while hungry either, because I know full well that shopping when you’re hungry can make you put stuff in your basket that you wouldn’t normally go for.
So what gives, why the sudden need for so much bread?
When I thought about it on the drive home, I remembered that every year at this time, I get the hunch to start buying bread.
That warm, soft, and aromatic freshly baked bread that when you bite into it, everything seems right in the world for that moment.
The craving for that feeling always hits me about this time of year, late September to mid-October. When summer has finished and the colder weather starts to show up.
I wondered why this happens and if I was the only one that goes through this. Surely, not?
I asked a few friends, and most knew exactly what I was talking about. I thought it was just me!
I then went back to thinking about bread and butter, creamy pasta dishes, and potato-based meals.
What is the Science Behind why we Crave Carbs?
After doing some research, I was fascinated to find that these winter carb cravings I am experiencing are linked to a vitamin d deficiency.
Our bodies convert natural sunlight into vitamin d in the body, vitamin d is known as the hormone of sunlight, why? Because it boosts your serotonin levels.
(Serotonin is known as ‘the happy chemical’ mainly because it contributes so greatly to wellbeing and happiness.)
When the sunlight isn’t as present as it once was, the serotonin levels in your body drop.
Low serotonin levels lead to carbohydrate cravings because the body is looking for other ways to increase serotonin.
But why Crave Carbs?
What exactly is going on in our bodies when we crave carbs like this?
The production of serotonin in the body is related (among other things) to insulin levels.
After you consume a simple carb such as a baked potato or in my case today, bread, the hormone insulin is released.
The release of insulin leads to the brain converting available tryptophan into serotonin, (the feel-good chemical).
Serotonin= Happy person.
Now the problem many of us find when it comes to eating simple carbs is blood sugar levels.
Eating simple carbs such as white bread and potatoes is known to spike your blood sugar levels.
The fast rise in blood sugar level leads to a fast low which can then lead to further simple carb cravings.
Is there a way to enjoy carbs at this time and not do any serious damage?
If you’re a person who needs to monitor your blood sugar levels then you’re going to need to have your winter carb cravings under control.
Do make sure you know your numbers.
A recommendation is to eat protein with your carbohydrates or eat protein shortly before you eat the carbs.
The main reason for doing this is it will help regulate your blood sugar and may level out your cravings, why?
Because protein blocks the production of serotonin so will help keep your mood in check.
Another recommendation is to substitute your simple carbs for complex carbs instead of simple carbs.
Complex carb alternatives would be things like whole-grain brown bread instead of white, brown rice instead of white, sweet potatoes instead of normal white potatoes, and whole wheat paste instead of the normal white.
The thought of it could be a great opportunity to try out new foods!
Do I crave other food types at other times of the year?
So there is a biological reason why I have been craving carbs as soon as summer is over.
But that got me thinking, are there any foods I crave at any other time of the year?
The only time of year I could think of is Christmas dinner, but that’s not a biological reason with a fascinating scientific explanation, that’s just greed.
What about you, do you have certain food cravings at specific times or seasons of the year?