food craving pizza Your final term paper is due tomorrow morning, but you can't type another word until you get a slice of hot, gooey tomato and spinach pizza. You run over to the college cafeteria even though it will put you behind schedule.

You got to the movie theater late and just found a place to sit when you have a sudden need to get hot, buttered popcorn. You decide to get it even though you'll miss the first 10 minutes of the film.

It's time for your period to start and nothing will satisfy your midnight hunger better than chocolate ice cream. So, you head out to the local store on a snowy night.

Some food cravings are so strong that you will go out of your way to fill them. But studies have yet to find out what cravings are and how they play a role in what we eat.

What Causes Cravings

There are many theories behind cravings, but none of them are sound. Some people think cravings happen due to:

  • Nutrients we are missing that the food contains
  • Changes in blood glucose
  • Mental health problems such as depression, boredom, or stress
  • Hormones, such as those that happen during periods or pregnancy
  • Diets that limit too many foods and result in cravings for foods that are not on the diet
  • The comfort some people get from certain foods

Dealing with Cravings

It's okay to give your body what it craves from time to time. It isn't likely to cause weight gain unless you do it too often. If you deny yourself foods that you enjoy, you may raise stress levels and eat more of that food more often.

If you feel like your cravings are out of control, try these tips:

  • Eat a healthful diet that has all the nutrients your body needs
  • Do not follow diets that limit a lot of types of foods
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid cravings due to dehydration
  • Do not skip meals as cravings are stronger in people who have empty stomachs
  • Eat a small portion of a food you crave instead of eating too much
  • Choose a healthier alternative to your craving

Lastly, think about keeping a food diary if you think your cravings are out of control. Share it with your doctor. Talk about changes that you may want to make to your diet to improve your overall health.

RESOURCES:

Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
http://www.eatright.org

Food Insight—International Food Information Council Foundation
http://www.foodinsight.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

Health Canada
http://www.canada.ca

REFERENCES:

Controlling cravings. Nutritionist Resource website. Available at: https://www.nutritionist-resource.org.uk/memberarticles/controlling-cravings. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Emotional eating: How to cope. University of Rochester Medical Center website. Available at: https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=4517. Accessed November 3, 2021.

Last reviewed November 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 11/4/2021