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Your Boozed-Up Pizza Craving, Explained

Your Boozed-Up Pizza Craving, Explained

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PopSci looks at the link between alcohol and fatty foods

Pizza and beer will always go together, but why does a night of drinking tend to end up with 2 a.m. cheese slices?

PopSci examined the link between alcohol and fatty foods, finding explanations in both biological impulses as well as brain chemistry. The first reason? "All mammals gravitate to eating the most energy-dense foods," David Levitsky, a professor at Cornell University, told PopSci. "Fat is the most energy-dense food available." And when you're drunk, your self-control is shot (explaining the trend of drunk puppy buying).

In the brain chemistry part, a chemical called galanin can be blamed as well. Galanin, when released, increases the desire for fats, and eating fats increases galanin production, leading to a downward spiral of pizza, burgers, and smothered French toast. Even worse? "Alcohol intake also results in increased galanin production," William Gruchow, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, told PopSci. Excellent.

Of course, a lot of these fatty cravings might just be conditioned into drinkers after several hungover Sunday mornings. We've constantly been told that fatty foods help hangovers, as science has proven that fatty foods slow down the absorption of alcohol, while carbs help ease nausea. So really, those early morning pizza sessions? That's just us being smart, right?

What your food cravings really mean

Experiencing some unusual cravings? Is it just about mood or could you be lacking something essential? From pregnancy to feeling picky, Kerry Torrens explains what your body might be trying to tell you.

If you’re prone to the mid-morning munchies or feel the urge for that afternoon sugar hit, you probably end up blaming yourself for being weak-willed. But have you ever thought there might be more to your cravings than lack of willpower alone?

Stress, anxiety and emotions can all impact our ‘need’ for certain foods. Take carbs like bread, biscuits and sweet treats, for example – eating them has a calming effect and boosts levels of the good-mood brain chemical serotonin, which is just what your body craves when you’re feeling down or stressed out.

In fact, cravings are far more likely to be a signal from your brain about your emotions than your stomach telling you that it’s hungry or that you have a specific nutrient need. That said, there are some physiological conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders (like polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS), that may cause you to crave carbs and sugary foods. Similarly, a large percentage of women experience cravings in the days before their period for serotonin-boosters like chocolate, which can help manage the adrenal glands – the body’s stress regulator.

If all this sounds familiar, take heart – there are steps you can take to manage your cravings…

  • Don’t allow yourself to establish a habit: Enjoying a cream cake at 4pm each day is not ideal, so arm yourself with a piece of whole fruit and a handful of nuts instead to vary your choices.
  • When you need carbs, choose wholegrain: A wholemeal scone, granary bread or oat cakes are filling options.
  • Distract yourself with something else you enjoy: Phone a friend, take a relaxing bath or listen to music.
  • Learn to manage your stress: What works for you is not necessarily going to be the same for your partner, but find that special thing that helps lighten the load.
  • When you’re premenstrual, manage your blood sugar levels: Eat small meals often, and don’t forget to include protein – it helps fill you up and satisfies.

Crust Matters

When it comes to pizza, you might think of toppings first, but the most important decision you will make is actually… the crust. It will affect your entire pizza experience.

Are you thin crust, cauliflower, gluten-free, or deep dish? Here’s where I confess my current addiction to a frozen brand that’s offering croissant crust. Who knew there was such a thing? My pizza craving lead me to stumble upon what is now an obsession. Light, flakey, fluffy layers that support the delicious toppings and do not make me want to discard those bland, heavy edges so I have room to eat more pizza. Now that is a perfect crust.

Whatever your crust preference, your choice will shape everything that follows. Because there is crust in every bite. And it will be responsible for holding up everything you add from there: the sauce, the cheese, the toppings.

In story, crust is the foundation – the very first story decisions you make:

What is my story about?

Who is the hero? What is essential about them? What do they want? What do they need?

What is their goal? What stands in their way of achieving that goal?

What flaw must they need to overcome to succeed?

How do they change?

What is the message of the story?

How does it end?

The answers to these questions help you construct the foundation of your story. Start here to support a solid story.

De-Stress to Discourage Cravings

Beyond the physiological reasons for food cravings, they often have something to do with emotion and desire.

"Food cravings arise to satisfy emotional needs, such as calming stress and reducing anxiety," says Drewnowski, a well-known researcher on taste and food preferences.

For many of us, cravings kick into high gear when we're stressed or anxious. Carbohydrates boost our levels of the hormone serotonin, which has a calming effect. And recent research suggests that the combination of fat and sugar may also have a calming effect.

Researchers from University of California at San Francisco put rats in a high-stress environment and discovered two key points: the stressed-out rats preferred to eat sugar and fat, and when the rats ate fat and sugar, their brains produced less of the stress-related hormones (the ones that trigger the fight-or-flight response).


3. Sugar

It’s one of the most annoying cravings, especially when you’re trying to watch your weight and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Plus, consuming too much added sugar is associated with a slew of health concerns, including cancer . But before you give into cakes, candy, cookies and sugary drinks, be aware that this craving may indicate blood sugar imbalances and mineral deficiencies like chromium and magnesium. If you really want you sugar fix, opt for healthier options like real fruit. You’re also likely to get a sugar craving if you’re dehydrated, in which case, get your water fix!

While Las Vegas came in seventh place overall in LawnStarter's rankings, it came in third place among the "most popular pizza cities on Instagram," following just New York and Chicago. There are worst things you could do for the 'gram than enjoy a slice of pizza!


If you haven't had thin-crust St. Louis pizza, you're missing out. LawnStarter also noted that St. Louis pizza tends to be more affordable than pizza from other cities.

Here's How Food Cravings Affect Men And Women In Different Ways

As mere mortals on this earth, we all get hit by crazy cravings from time to time, regardless of gender. You know what we’re talking about: The seemingly out-of-the-blue craving for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, the sudden urge to eat an entire block of sharp cheddar cheese or the hankering for something sweet when you’re already full from dinner.

While indulging in cravings can be fun, doing so can be a drag if you’re left feeling bloated and sick, or if giving in to your cravings is interfering with your weight loss goals. Getting a better understanding of our cravings is key, so let’s take a closer look at why they happen in the first place.

When a craving hits, your body is trying to tell you something.

Whether you’re a man or a woman, hormone expert Alisa Vitti believes your cravings are always trying to tell you something.

“In most cases, cravings have to do with the body calling out for specific micronutrients — so salt cravings can indicate a magnesium deficiency, and dairy cravings could indicate a calcium deficiency,” she explained. “If you’re craving sweets or carbs, you probably have an essential fatty acid deficiency.”

If you’re a woman, a lot of cravings are caused by your cycle.

While the image of a woman eating chocolate right around her period is a bit of a cliché, a woman’s cycle does have to do with her cravings. “Our hormones are conducting a very important symphony in the female body,” explains Ellen Vora , MD. “There are differing nutritional needs depending on where you are in your cycle, and your hormones will guide your cravings accordingly.”

Because women’s hormones are fluctuating all month long, they have different needs throughout the month — for example, during ovulation (which is mid-cycle) your body is looking for healthy sources of protein like eggs, nuts and lean meats. During your period, on the other hand, your iron levels are often low so you need iron-rich foods like leafy green veggies, dried beans, peas and red meat if that’s your thing.

If you notice you’re craving certain foods around your period, it could have to do with a hormone-induced deficiency (for example, many people crave chocolate when they have a magnesium deficiency), but it could also be because estrogen and progesterone levels are lower than usual, which makes you feel crappy and crave comforting foods, like ice cream and pizza.

Vitti added that most women are hit by cravings in the second half of their cycle. “This is when the metabolism speeds up and women need more micronutrients and calories to do the work of the luteal phase and the menstrual phase versus the first half of the cycle,” she said. Again, most of the time cravings during this time are associated with seeking comforting foods when we’re feeling crappy (like sweet foods if that’s your thing, or salty ones if that’s more your style), but try not to give into it — what your body needs is nutrients, so fuel up.

Yep: Men have hormonal imbalances, too.

Women may be known as the more hormonal gender, but men suffer from hormone imbalances, too. And when that happens, guess what? Cravings strike! “Men can have hormonal imbalances with testosterone and estrogen in the same way women can, which are in part the result of micronutrient deficiencies,” Vitti said. “When this happens, cravings arise!”

Vora added that men’s cravings typically have more to do with how they’re using their bodies than cyclical hormonal changes. “Men’s bodies require nutrition to prepare them to meet a slightly different set of challenges and needs compared to women’s bodies,” she explained. In other words, a man who exercises a lot probably has different cravings than a guy who watches TV all day.

Do men and women crave different foods?

According to both Vitti and Vora, cravings are based less on gender and more on hormone imbalances and micronutrient deficiencies. But cravings do vary slightly based on difference in nutritional needs.

“Most of us are addicted to the drug-like foods, such as gluten, dairy, sugar and the flavor crystals in processed foods,” Vora said. “This shared drug addiction eclipses the subtle variations in cravings between men and women.”

She added that if you can strip away the drug-like food cravings that we all share, the rest comes down to different nutritional needs and cravings. “To add complexity to this, women have different nutritional needs and cravings at different points in their cycles,” Vora said.

What should you do when a craving hits?

Now, the million-dollar question: When a craving hits, should you give in to it? Vitti says yes. “I say always, but do it in the healthiest way possible,” she said. Vitti has an app called MyFLO , which helps users learn what their cravings mean and which healthy foods will satisfy those cravings during specific times of a woman’s cycle.

In Vora’s opinion, whether you feed a craving really depends. “The only compass you really need is this: Are you craving a real food, such as meat, fish, eggs, poultry, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, starchy vegetables or fermented food? Or are you craving a drug-like food, such as ice cream, pizza, crackers and cheese, or sugar? If the craving is for a real food, trust your body’s wisdom and honor the craving.”

If it’s more of a “drug-like” craving, you’re better off abstaining if possible so you don’t perpetuate the cycle. “Sometimes, though, the self-loving choice is to eat that one thing that will hit the spot and give you pleasure, even if it’s a drug-like comfort food,” she added. “Sometimes there’s more to life than just optimal physical health, and satisfying a deep yearning for a particular culinary experience can be an act of radical self-love.”

Now that you have a better understanding of your cravings, indulge as you see fit. You’ve got this!

Pizza made from whole wheat crust packs an even bigger nutritional punch.

At some fancier pizzerias, you may get to choose between regular pizza dough and whole wheat pizza dough. Whole wheat bread contains fewer carbs than white bread and has a higher fiber content that fills a person up quicker, according to a study published in ScienceDaily .

"If you can, opt for a whole wheat crust because you're eating more fiber along with your slice, plus additional vitamins and minerals," says Amer.

What do pregnancy cravings mean?

Some nutritionists and healthcare providers believe that certain cravings are meaningful. For example, some experts think that craving large amounts of ice and nonfood substances, such as laundry starch and dirt or clay (a condition called pica), are linked to an iron or zinc deficiency, though there's not enough research to support a cause and effect relationship.

San Francisco midwife and herbalist Cynthia Belew says some food cravings may be worth paying attention to. For example, alternative medicine practitioners believe that a shortage of magnesium can trigger a craving for chocolate. Foods that contain magnesium include whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and green vegetables such as spinach.

Belew has also found that many of her patients need more essential fatty acids in their diet. When they start taking fish oil or flax oil, their food cravings disappear.

Similarly, a craving for red meat seems like a transparent cry for protein. And the mom in our survey who said she consumed great quantities of peaches may have been responding to her body's need for beta carotene.

Judith Brown, author of What to Eat Before, During, and After Pregnancy, agrees that in some cases there might be a biological cause for cravings. She points to pregnant women who develop an aversion to certain foods or drinks that might be harmful (like diet soda, coffee, or alcohol).

But Elizabeth Somer, author of Nutrition for a Healthy Pregnancy, doesn't see much of a link between a pregnant woman's cravings and what her body needs.

"People think their cravings are significant, but studies show no link between cravings and nutritional requirements," she says. "If people craved what the body needs, we would all eat more broccoli and less chocolate."

And at this point the evidence – while hard to ignore – is anecdotal.

"There's no scientific explanation for food cravings. There's no data saying that what a woman craves is related to something her body or her baby needs, and there's no data to support that typical pregnancy food cravings are harmful, either," explains Brown.

Your Boozed-Up Pizza Craving, Explained - Recipes

Q: Can you explain the roles that salt, sugar and oil play in the overall final dough product?

A : Good question! Many people don&rsquot realize that salt, sugar and oil do more than add flavor to pizza dough. Let&rsquos consider these ingredients one at a time to determine how each affects your finished crust.

Salt improves dough&rsquos handling properties by giving it a drier feel with reduced stickiness and better extensibility properties. Salt also controls the rate of fermentation so as to reduce the incidence of &ldquoblown&rdquo or over-fermented dough. And without salt, or with too little salt, the finished dough will lack overall flavor, characterized by a somewhat starchy taste. Too much salt, on the other hand, slows the rate of fermentation and creates a tightness that makes it harder to open the dough into a pizza skin.

Sugar comes in many different types. Some lend sweetness to the dough, while others mostly provide some crust color. Still others provide both sweetness and a unique flavor. Sucrose, in the form of granulated or table sugar, also provides nutrients for the yeast&mdashthis is especially important if you manage your dough over several days or more. Dextrose adds slightly less sweetness than sucrose but otherwise functions similarly. Lactose sugar (known as milk sugar), found in high quantities in dried dairy whey, has a low sweetness value but gives a darker finished crust color. (Like sucrose, honey and malt syrups also provide nutrients for yeast, increase crust color development, and provide a sweeter or unique taste.)

Finally, fats and oils provide tenderness, mouth feel and flavor to the finished crust. They also help enhance the volume of the dough and inhibit moisture penetration from the toppings during baking, thus helping to prevent gum line formation. Additionally, animal fats, such as lard, tallow and butter, lend unique flavor to the crust, as do vegetable fats, such as margarine or shortening. Vegetable oils (corn, canola, soybean and peanut) taste bland and impart little, if any, flavor to the finished crust. Olive oil, on the other hand, lends a pronounced and distinctive flavor to the finished crust.


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