Hunger Pangs? Or Special Cravings?

Being college students, we all know the feeling of craving a certain food that you just can't wait to eat. Whether you have a sweet tooth and find yourself dreaming of the creamery or you have uncontrollable cravings for a piece of pizza from Domino's, we have all been through this experience and know it very well. Do you ever wonder just why these cravings exist? How are these cravings different from being hungry?coldstone_jack2009.jpg

Psych Central explains how we must realize the difference between simply starving where anything that we eat will solve our hunger issue and the specific cravings of certain foods. Cravings for a special food may be due to the mental imagery we create of that item. When we picture the food in our minds, the more vivid the imagery, the greater our cravings become. The article also described research studies that have shown that the cravings can actually hinder our cognitive abilities. Participants who craved chocolate actually found it more difficult to recall a number of words and even do various math problems because of the imagery that was taking up space in their mind. The study also showed reversed findings where they found ways to decrease the cravings by making the participant view other images in their mind.


An article on Psychology Today, takes cravings one step further by explaining why these become reoccurring. Dr. David Kessler explains that our bodies release chemicals when we satisfy our food wants which leads us to remember the positive "pick-me-up" feeling along with the food item. Cravings can also be dated back to a memory from our childhood or another former time that the food had made you feel better so we associate the item with happy feelings.

Often these cravings do not get in the way and instead we satisfy them before they become an issue. If these cravings start to come in the way of one's everyday activity or reoccur to frequently when you are not hungry anyways (a sure way to gain the dreaded freshman 15), the article from Psychology Today gives a few words of advice to help you avoid the inevitable craving. First, you can often satisfy the craving by just taking a small portion or bite of the food without overindulging. Next, eating every meal without skipping breakfast, lunch, or dinner is a sure way to help avoid cravings for an unhealthy quick-fix. Also, often fruit can help cure a craving in a more healthy and nutritious way. Lastly, changing up your eating routine can lead to a more satisfied mood.


Once again, college can get the best of us when it comes to food and cravings. Sometimes it might be best to follow that vision in your mind and satisfy the craving on the spot. It also helps to be able to know what is causing the cravings so that you can conquer them without always having to run to the nearest dining commons or spending all of your precious Lions Cash to order takeout to your dorm. Since being in Happy Valley, what do you crave most?


I definitely think that these "hunger pains" occur more than is necessary. But you can't really help it. Especially if you are out late hanging with friends sometimes it is just easy and convenient to grab food, even when we're not hungry. According to this article researchers found that eating at night is worse for you than eating during the day. And it will make you fat. This is because your body is going to shut down and go to sleep, which slows down your metabolism. Even if you at the same amount of calories at 1:00 AM as you did for dinner at 7:30 P.M., you would gain weight because your metabolism is slower. I think that being hungry late at night is mental but sometimes in the moment you feel "starving so you just have to eat". It definitely does not help you when you are trying to avoid the "freshman 15".

While mental imagery and emotional association seem like valid explanations for cravings, I've also heard that cravings can be a result of feeling that something is missing in one's life. I've heard aspects of life such as an unhealthy relationship, dissatisfaction with a career, or major stress can trigger cravings as the food is being used to fulfill the "missing" part of that person's life.

I've also heard that dehydration can be a cause of cravings. It's been suggested that when you're craving some specific food, try drinking a full glass of water and seeing if that craving persists (personally, I think it would).

Heather Casperen explains this in her article "5 Ways to Kiss Cravings Good-bye."
She explains that the correct amount of water ounces to drink each day is equivalent to the numeric value of half your weight. If you aren't drinking this number of fluid ounces of water each day, you aren't drinking enough to prevent these cravings!

I also found articles addressing the fact that increased water consumption can help your weight loss. WeightLossForAll states that drinking the right amount of water can actually give your metabolism a boost! It says that it can help you burn calories actually 3% faster. It also says how often people respond incorrectly to a feeling they feel may be hunger by eating when they are actually just dehydrated. Ever since beginning college, I have started to drink a lot more water. I have also cut out any other types of drinks. I feel as though just drinking water has helped me to be more active and energized. Drinking water and eating seem to go hand in hand, so I am happy that this topic came up within my blog!

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