What the Yuck?!

Help for Sugary Cravings, Heavy Periods, and More

Expert advice about sugar cravings, heavy periods, and bathroom worries.


sugar-cravings
Juliette Borda
Q: I think Im addicted to sugar—I crave sweet snacks three or four times a day. Whats wrong with me?
A: Dont panic. Its normal to long for sweets. One culprit is low levels of serotonin, the brain chemical responsible for making us feel happy—and your sugar craving could be your bodys effort to fix the problem. Studies suggest that sugar increases the absorption of the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin.

Another possible cause is low blood sugar. Eating is the best way to get it back up and break the cravings cycle. Have three meals a day—no skipping! Blowing off a meal can cause your blood sugar to drop and your body to seek a fix, like a hit of chocolate. Also, choose healthy foods that keep your blood sugar stable.

And when you do want something sweet, make life easier by reaching for smart hunger busters like fruit, or two or three peanut M&Ms. (The protein and fat in the nuts will slow the candys absorption, so your blood sugar wont spike so high.) Theres no need to swear off all sweets, though. New research shows that if you deny yourself treats, youll tend to binge when you do eat them. So live a little!

Q: When is the color of your stool a cause for concern?
A:
Rarely. If you see something unusual (not in the brown palette), you can usually chalk it up to food—what goes in must come out. Leafy greens and red fruits and veggies (like beets), or even artificial food colorings, can alter the hue of your poo, as can medicines and supplements.

Bright red blood in your stool could signal a polyp in your large intestine or rectum, rectal inflamma­tion, diverticulosis, or even colon cancer. (Not to be confused with just a small smear of blood on your toilet paper, most likely caused by an anal fissure or hemorrhoid.) Tarry black stool can be a sign of older blood from higher up in your digestive tract, possibly due to a stomach or upper-gastrointestinal ulcer. And yellow stool may indicate a problem with fat digestion and absorption.

Most diet-related color changes will clear up in a day or two. If the unusual colors persist, or if you also have constant urges to go, vomiting, or stomach cramps, see your doc.
Roshini Rajapaksa, MD
Last Updated: February 20, 2010

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