Craving, what is the irrepressible desire to eat that makes us fat

Net of the various considerations, among the 10 main reasons why Italians coming out of the pandemic feel stressed, there is the increase in the waistline that creates more anxiety – in some people – than the economic crisis or poor social life.

The unexpected data comes from a national survey commissioned by Allurion Technologies and conducted on a sample of over 3,000 people. 49% of Italians have increased by 6.5 kilos and one of the main causes would be the craving, that is, the irrepressible desire to eat.

The most widespread concerns

According to the research data, the share of compatriots who are unhappy or very unhappy with their weight is 40%. This is followed by the quantity of social relations (37%) and the quality of the same (35%). In fourth place are concerns about the financial situation (34%). 32% of Italians are worried about mental well-being, only 22% about their physical health. Among the reasons for stress affecting one’s body in the first place the increase in waistline (23%), then the loss of muscle tone (16%). Only 3% of the interviewees are concerned about aspects concerning wrinkles and facial aesthetics, white hair, double chin.

All the fault of the craving

During the pandemic, craving, which indicates a sudden and uncontrollable desire to eat, has become commonplace in many families. In fact, 41% of respondents indicate it as the main cause of their weight gain during the lockdown period. After all, everyone consumed more sugars and carbohydrates, the Italians who made homemade bread and pizza for the first time or more often increased by 59%.

But what exactly is craving? “It is an irrepressible desire for food. However, hunger must be distinguished from the irresistible desire to eat unhealthy food”, explains the nutritionist Nicola Sorrentino, director of the Iulm Food Academy. “Eating is often an act independent of the stimulus of hunger, which many times has more to do with psychological and emotional needs than with those of the stomach”.

Emotional hunger

In short, we eat not only because the stomach is demanding but also to fill emotional gaps. “It has been shown that by taking our favorite foods – continues Sorrentino – we produce endorphins, neurotransmitters that improve mood. Noradrenaline stimulates food intake, serotonin gives good mood and satiety, dopamine regulates the balance between satisfaction and desire of food. Foods rich in fat increase the production of dopamine, those rich in sugars stimulate the production of serotonin “.

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What damage it can cause

In addition to making us gain weight, craving can harm us in other ways as well. “There are foods that are ‘good’ for the brain and others that, even if they give a sensation of pleasure during their consumption, in the long run become harmful”, specifies the nutritionist. For example, those high in calories, high in fat and sugar such as hamburgers, fries, brioches, sweets, etc. “In the long run, these foods produce negative effects on brain neurochemistry, creating an addiction to their consumption and providing real abstinence crises. Moreover, they predispose to serious diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, cardiovascular diseases “.

How to avoid giving in to craving

You can get out of it first of all by avoiding buying dangerous foods and buying small packages. “Stocking up on food is useless, on the contrary it will allow you to eat even when it is not necessary”, warns Sorrentino. In fact, during the pandemic the eating habits of Italians have changed: more food, larger portions and above all continuous snacks and snacks between meals. In short, a new food routine has been established, the result of boredom, stress, the need for consolation, anxiety, the search for tranquility. 62% say they gained weight because they led a more sedentary lifestyle due to restrictions, 41% because they ate more between meals, 27% because they ate more during meals. Why? 57% said they ate more from boredom and 50% from stress.

No to bans, yes to eating with balance

And to get rid of the urge to eat for no reason, there are other tricks. “We must not arrive at lunch or dinner with too much appetite. We prepare the stomach with a jar of low-fat yogurt or a saucer of vegetables such as carrots and fennel. Always keep vegetables and fresh fruit in season in sight that you can eat at any time” , Sorrentino suggests. Can skipping meals or strict diets help a craving victim? “No, philosophy is ‘everything, but only a little’. Always saying ‘no’ to a food you want is not the best choice, while enjoying it in some circumstances can become the trump card”, says the nutritionist.

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The diet for the summer

The diet for the holidays is a classic that never fails. According to survey data from Allurion Technologies, the meta? (49%) of Italians tried several times and unsuccessfully to lose weight with “healthy” diets during the pandemic, but 8 times out of 10 without success. Today, however, with summer just around the corner, 40% of compatriots declare the need to be supported by a nutritionist, 22% instead would prefer to invest in a personal trainer to reach the desired waistline. In fact, to lose weight the combination of movement + diet is a winner. But what suggestion can you give to those who have suffered from craving and therefore find it more difficult to go on a diet? “Limit fats, keep sugars under control and instead abound with vegetables and low-calorie foods, but at the same time tantalizing and satiating”, explains Sorrentino.

Pasta even if on a diet

One of the most common preconceptions in terms of weight loss diets is undoubtedly the one that demonizes pasta. Is it really necessary to ban it? “Low in fat, rich in carbohydrates, pasta does not make you fat and is the best source of energy. It all lies in calibrating the condiments well, with simplicity and imagination”, grants Sorrentino. Pasta is also good for the mood because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that gives well-being. “Associated with vegetables, such as broccoli, aubergines, courgettes, it becomes a satiating and low-calorie dish. The important thing is that it is well dosed and seasoned in the right way, without abusing the load of fats. Even water can be a valid one. ally. It has an excellent satiating power and drinking before meals, but also throughout the day, allows us to feel more satiated. The effect is even more pronounced if you drink sparkling water “.

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