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Healthy Eating: The Reasons We Choose What We Chew

Updated on June 21, 2015
Ronna Pennington profile image

Ronna Pennington is a newspaper editor, journalist and freelance ghostwriter and adjunct instructor.

Filling wraps

A whole wheat tortilla piled with shredded lettuce, onions, peppers, tomatoes and just two ounces of ham is super filling!
A whole wheat tortilla piled with shredded lettuce, onions, peppers, tomatoes and just two ounces of ham is super filling! | Source

Some of us eat because we love the taste of food. Once we have fulfilled that urge or need to taste, we forget about the food we just chewed and swallowed. Digestion of that food actually takes quite a while.

Once your food has made its way into your stomach, it is stored, broken down into a liquid mixture, then emptied into the small intestine. Have you ever felt like your stomach was churning? It probably was. Gastric acid breaks down the food in the stomach and helps kill any bacteria that might have been in your food. When we over eat, our body makes more gastric acid to break down the excess food. If you have acid reflux, this is why eating several small meals a day helps you control it better than eating three large meals. You need smaller amounts of gastric acid for processing the smaller meals.

You can make the digestive process easier for your body by drinking plenty of water and eating foods rich in fiber. Look for fresh fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. They help keep your digestive system running efficiently.

Understanding Cravings

There are several reasons we have cravings. It may surprise you to know that cravings can be a really good thing. A craving may signify that your body is deficient in a particular nutrient. This probably isn't the case if your craving is a chocolate doughnut, but if you crave a glass of milk, you should have one. You may be lacking Vitamin D.

Your body may also need a boost of serotonin, the hormone that produces that happy feeling. The reason we crave fatty foods for a boost of happiness is that they contain tryptophan, the amino acid that produces serotonin. Try curbing this craving by popping a dark chocolate, bite size piece of candy.

But if you find one bite won't do and you "need" to keep munching on sweets and fats for extended periods of time, you may be an emotional eater. Journal your cravings and what spurs them for a month. Find the cause of your stress and work to avoid it or get rid of it all together.

The Impact of Emotional Eating

Emotional eating is a vicious cycle. You eat for a serotonin release, hoping to make yourself feel more alert or happier; but you pile on pounds while doing so. Then, the horrific guilt sets in. You want to be healthier and you feel bad for gaining so much weight. What do you do to feel better? You eat more fats for the serotonin. The only way to stop this cycle is to step up to the plate -- then push it away.

Change Your Diet, Change Your Life

Changing your diet isn't easy, especially if you rely on fast food restaurants for your meals. You can do it though, and you don't have to be a gourmet chef to make great food for yourself. When you start filling up on fiber-full grains and fresh fruits and veggies, you will begin to feel and look better. Most importantly, most of those fatty cravings will disappear.

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