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What's In A 'Pumpkin Spice Latte,' Anyway? and Why Do So Many Crave It?

The sight of autumn leaves, shorter days and smell of pumpkin spice are all triggers for food cravings. This was the consensus opinion of a group of experts cited in a recent CNN report. Food and flavor manufacturers have not hesitated to exploit these cravings commercially. Pumpkin spice was once viewed as a seasonal flavor, but grocery store aisles are now heavily stocked with pumpkin flavored products year round. 

Pumpkin spice is not unhealthy on its own merits. It typically contains cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Organic and sustainably sourced variants of these spices are available. Issues arise when it is derived from synthetic ingredients and added into sugar-laden beverages. 

Unfortunately, synthetic and sugar-laden products are exactly what are being manufactured and marketed for consumers as “pumpkin spice.” Generating food cravings and addictions is an exact science and can undermine your ability to adhere to a healthy diet. 

It is worth noting that many of the pumpkin spiced products you see at the store do not rely on the classic spices your grandmother may have used to make pumpkin spice. Just as disconcerting is the fact they are often laden with sugar. Pumpkin spice is not only in beverages but is found in a wide range of sugar-coated breakfast cereals. 

The more your body becomes used to sugar, the more you will need to consume to enjoy the same pleasurable feelings. The biological process is not dissimilar to drug addiction and, eventually, you may need to eat junk food in order to maintain a feeling of well-being. 

Can much of the Starbucks pumpkin spice latte’s popularity be attributed to simple sugar addiction and customers conditioned to remember the feeling of well-being produced by a 470-calorie beverage that contains an outrageous 64 grams of sugar? The correlation between food addiction and recreational drug addiction is quite striking, and probably stronger than most people suspect. 

A critical player in all forms of addiction is the neurotransmitter dopamine. From personal experience, I've found intermittent fasting to be a highly effective tool that helps your body to shift from burning sugar to burning fat as its primary fuel, and with that change, food cravings have a tendency to simply vanish. 

You may have noticed that what is almost entirely missing entirely from pumpkin spice is very much pumpkin. This huge orange vegetable has long been a staple food. You may be surprised to learn that nearly every part of the pumpkin plant is edible, including the leaves and flowers. Squash blossoms, for instance, are large, edible blooms that lend interesting flavor and elegance to many dishes. Pumpkins are loaded with health promoting nutrients. Check out this article for additional information on the amazing benefits of pumpkins
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