— Cleveland Clinic (@ClevelandClinic) December 1, 2015
Why you crave them: Potatoes have a high glycemic index. That’s a technical way of saying the carbs in potatoes really raise your blood sugar levels — quickly. They also stimulate the reward centers in your brain. You eat a big plate of French fries, and then you want more. Or you crave other high-glycemic foods such as candy bars.
The sudden increase in blood sugar makes your pancreas work in overdrive to secrete enough insulin. This insulin picks up and transports the sugar in your blood to various cells throughout the body. Within an hour of eating a high-glycemic meal, the insulin has done its job, and you’re left with low blood sugar. You feel hungry even though you just ate an hour ago.
French fries come with a double whammy, because they’re usually loaded with salt. Like sugar, salt stimulates receptors in your brain that basically say, “Mmm, this food is tasty.”
How to break the cycle: Eat potatoes with the skin on. The extra fiber in the potato skin will help slow digestion and keep your blood sugar in balance. Even better, swap out white potatoes for sweet potatoes, which are lower on the glycemic index and higher in micronutrients. And get your flavor with herbs and spices instead of added salt.