Craving Carbs? Here’s Why

Photo by Chad Montano on Unsplash

I just ate five mini sweet potato samosas and three quarters of a pack of biscuits. Locus biscuits, that is.

I feel sick, it’s coming back up in my stomach as acid. I can feel it. But I can’t stop eating.

In ten minutes time, I’ll be hungry again.

I see the food, I smell the food, I know it’s there, I know I’m full but I eat it anyway. Especially if it’s a carbohydrate. Why is this?

I know part of the reason why. A reason millions can relate to. A reason that haunts me month after month for the last 12 years of my life. Mother Nature. Also known as, the period.

But what about the times when I’ve got no excuse? Why am I still eating like a pig?

What are carbohydrates and are they all bad?

A carbohydrate is one of the basic compulsory human food groups. Carbohydrates are a main source of energy and can be healthy or unhealthy for you, depending which ones you eat.

You can find yourself eating a ‘simple’ carbs which usually refer to sugars or a ‘complex’ carb which refers to loads of simple carbs joined together. Regardless of which one you’re eating, one gram of carbs provides the body with four calories (source). am sure you are aware of the well-known rumour that all carbs are bad and in order to lose weight and/or become healthy they need to be avoided at all costs.

I’m no Sherlock Holmes, but this is bollocks.

Just like anything, too much of something is bad for you. Even eating too many sprouts are bad for you due to the build up of vitamin K in your stomach, are those are green veggies!

Sweets, chocolate, crisps, fizzy drinks, the worst kind of carbs. If you find yourself sitting with a back of Maoam Pinballs when you already had a pack yesterday, like I am now, you’re on the road to trouble.

However, if you eat pasta and rice maybe 3–4 times a week, I’m sure you’ll be perfectly fine. In fact, weight loss groups such as Slim World allow you to eat as much pasta and rice as you want.

Personally, I am not a fan of whole carbs. White rice, white pasta, white bread. Yuck. I tend to eat wholegrain only and it does make me feel that tad bit better about myself.

Why am I always craving carbohydrates during my period?

If you’re a male and you’ve just seen the word ‘period’, you might be fairly inclined to stop reading. Well, you shouldn’t. This is a science lesson for all.

Hungry isn’t even the word. I am religiously eating. Not salads and normal food like fish finger sandwiches and pork pies. I want chocolate, sweets, biscuits, pizza, McDonalds. Basically any kind of carbohydrate I can find.

I can think of a food and it’s like I can already taste it on my tongue, I need it NOW.

Kelly Klump argues that some people are predisposed to experiencing hormone-fuelled hunger. She continues to argue that when there’s an increase in hormones after ovulation, genes for eating disorders (ED) are more likely to be activated. Those who have these ED genes are more vulnerable to continuously eating during their period (source).

Guess I must have those genes…

There is also the theory of my good friends, estrogen, oestrogen and progesestrone to blame for my continuous binge. The levels go up and down, up and down like a rollercoaster causing me to become endlessly hungry (source).

I hate rollercoasters.

Pip Reed argues that as women can get a bit irritated and overwhelmed during the magical time of the month, they may need to eat more sugary foods to increase serotonin and dopamine in the brain to help with our mood (source).

Eating more does not come without the negatives. Just like when anyone eats too much food, they put on weight. Did you know women put on around three — five pounds during their period? Not just due to overeating, but also due excess to water retention due hormones on a rollercoaster (source).

Even though the science says this is bound to happen to the vast majority of women, ever since lockdown there are some months where my body has essentially ‘reversed’ my typical post menstrual symptoms. Some months I am not hungry at all, I’m not attracted to any carbohydrate and I will survive eating only two meals a day.

I wish those months could be every month.

Photo by amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

Why do I only want to eat carbohydrates all the time?

I do love salads and vegetables. My favourite meal is chicken caesar salad (without bacon) and I love brussell sprouts, Christmas or not. But I love carbohydrates even more. Everyone loves carbohydrates due to no fault of our own.

‘Carboholism’ is apparently a thing. When you eat carbs your body produces insulin. As this insulin causes energy to be stored in our fat cells, other cells are neglected and our body thinks we need more carbs (source).

Some carbs can fuel insulin more than others. Specifically white carbohydrates like pasta, rice and bread. This is why I stick to brown carbohydrates as much as possible. I have cut out white bread completely (minus tiger bread).

Interesting, yet strange, research was conducted in 2017 blamed starch for our love of carbs. Some people can actually directly taste starch, but only people who tend to have a larger waist circumference (source).

Great, does this means my body is potentially working against me at all times?

Serotonin, once again, is also potentially to blame for carb cravings. Experts say that those who tend to crave carbs have low serotonin levels. The carbs act as a quick pick-me-up thus raising serotonin levels. This does make sense as the explains the concept behind “comfort eating” (source).

None of this is good news, I don’t want to love carbs! Are there any Carboholyics Anonoymous groups I can join?

Life is hard when you’re hungry. Life is harder when you’re hungry and you’re a woman.

The odds are against us. Science shows humans are built to love fatty foods and pretty much all supermarkets have the bad carbohydrates at stupidly cheap prices and all the good ones priced fairly high with only about two to a packet.

What is one to do?

There is nothing you can do I’m afraid. Or at least I have no recommendations for you, I’m struggling too! Just hang on tight and build some mental resistance.

Good luck battling those carb cravings!