In the last blog I explained some of the background to food cravings. However, I wanted to know why some people get specific cravings and why we get cravings even we aren't hungry.
According to a TLC article the processes between stomach hunger and craving hunger work completely differently in the body. Stomach hunger is rather simple. Once the body has used up whatever food source it previously had, the hormone ghrelin tells the hypothalamus in our brain to start making neuropeptide Y which causes an appetite. Craving hunger however is much different. Fattening sugary foods contain opioids which "give us the feeling of pleasure or even mild euphoria." When cravings hit, the hippocampus and the caduate light up. The hippocampus is in charge of long term and short term memory. The caduate regulates the dopamine reward system within the brain. So one could say that cravings are a person remembering how good a certain food made them feel and the body's way of saying it wants to feel that way again. What is interesting is that addiction works in a very similar way. This could explain why the urge to eat whatever you are craving is so strong.
Why do I get cravings for certain foods?? Well that can be traced back to before you were even born. While in the womb babies start to develop a taste for the kinds of foods their mother eats in the third trimester. For that reason many babies prefer sweet tasting foods and it is a trait that follows them into their adult lives. According to an article in the Washington post, as we age we develop memories for certain foods we enjoyed as kids and it gives us a sort of warm fuzzy feeling as we associate it back to that time. For this reason it is extremely rare for a person to have a craving for a food they never tried before. However these feelings that we associate with food is also part of what gives cravings their addicting quality.
Do you feel like you are addicted to certain foods? Do you think cravings should be avoided because of their addicting qualities?