Why do we crave?

I'd be lying if I said I never have cravings and unfortunately enough, it's always for the unhealthiest foods.  Why is it that I always crave peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies?  Although I do really enjoy them, there's no reason for my mouth to be watering at the thought of them.  My taste buds thank me but my body does not for the fact that I can't resist the cravings and need to eat that specific food.  It sounds a little extreme, but I know I'm not the only one here who feels this way.

Psychologist Dr Leigh Gibson, Reader in biopsychology at Roehampton University described cravings as "...an overwhelming sensation of desire for a certain food.  There are a number of chemicals in the brain that are associated with this."  From this article I learned that dopamine, a chemical in the brain that works with learning, pairs with opioids, which are involved with feelings of pleasure and enjoyment.  Back in the early stages of evolution, dopamine and the opioids aligned at the enjoyment of healthy food, therefore the brain saw it as a means for survival.  Not much as changed in our genetic makeup today, causing this connection to still be effective.

Clearly, cravings aren't just based on some chemicals in your brain functioning together.  Your mood has a lot to do with when and what you crave and being stressed certainly heightens this. When you're stressed, your body wants junk food because of a hormone called cortisol, which increases sugar levels in the blood, increasing your overall state of hunger.  Anna Raymond, of the British Dietetic Association, defines cravings as "a psychological need for high-fat and high-sugar foods which taste pleasant"


It turns out there's a reason why you crave the foods you crave.  A need for chocolate could be because you know it will make you feel better, while a craving for dairy means your body is lacking Vitamin A or D.  

To beat these cravings, try to distract yourself from thinking about the food, such as listening to music or do something that makes you happy.  It will take your mind off of eating.  The best, and probably hardest thing you can do, is wait it out.  If you let your body beat the craving, the chances of it coming back are pretty slim.

Good luck!


I think this is a really interesting post! I know in my case, chocolate is always my go-to craving, and I always cave in. However, your article got me thinking... What causes some crazy cravings in some people and not in others? According to an article I found, a lot of it has to do with diet. If you continue to "give into" your cravings, you're more likely to keep having them! The article claims "by restricting certain types of foods, cravings and preferences for that food are greatly decreased." I think it's insane the way the body works, and cravings are a perfect example of the power of the brain!

I liked your post! Recently Ive been stressed out of my mind and have been craving a lot of different types of food. But, whos to say that all cravings are for foods that are "unhealthy"? Do people not crave healthy snacks? If so, is there a different chemical in the brain that triggers this? I also wonder if the amount of sleep we get could interfere with our cravings....if we get more sleep does that mean we crave less? If we get less sleep does that mean we crave more?

I found this article that emphasizes using healthy snacks to combat your cravings! Maybe this will help!

Cravings are definitely my weakness. Especially when I'm stressed. My way to beat them is to keep only moderately healthy food in my apartment and that way I cannot simply eat all of whatever I'm craving at that moment.

I've always wondered about cravings and I while reading this, it reminded me of something I pinned on Pinterest a while ago. It was a chart that showed what you were craving, what that craving indicated your body was lacking and it gave you a healthy alternative, yet still gives you the chemicals your body desires. Check it out!


I have cravings all the time due to my love of food and cooking. The fact that I enjoy preparing the food almost as much as eating it makes me very vulnerable to these cravings. Whenever I get a craving I act on it because I get excited to both make the food and satisfy this craving. Unfortunately the kitchen in my apartment doesn't have nearly the potential my parents kitchen has at home to make all of the meals I often crave, so I often have to settle for Ramen or Hotpockets, which after a while don't link as much dopomine to opiods as they used to.

If you say that you never have had a food craving, you are A)lying through your teeth or B)have the most self control in the world and I want to be you. But really, cravings seem to be a part of everyone's lives. In today's society, food is at the focal point. We go out to eat, we meet for coffee and pastries, we grab frozen yogurt on the way to class, and we invite friends over for pizza and beers to watch the big game. Food, to many people, symbolizes fun times, socializing with your friends or getting to know new ones. However, cravings, when intense can control your lives, and in my opinion, are basically in the same category as stress eating. I challenge people to take a second and think about what is going on in their lives the next time they have an intense craving. Chances are, they are stressed about school or something of the sort and are turning to food to make them feel better. In order, to combat these intense cravings and help your waistline along the way, check out this guide for emotional eating so you aren't knee deep in oreo's ever again.

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