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The Real Reasons You’re Having Food Cravings

We’ve all been there – having such intense food cravings that you have to stop everything you’re doing to get the food that’s on your mind. Whether it’s the bag of chips or the big slice of pizza or the bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food, we’ve all had them. What does it really mean when you have those food cravings, though?

Chocolate is definitely at the top of my cravings list. This creamy treat contains ingredients that boost your mood almost immediately and often mimics the feeling of romantic love. Come on, doesn’t the smell of chocolate make you feel amazing? Therefore, it’s no shock that whenever we’re feeling down or lonely, we reach for that chocolate bar. Instead of indulging in a full bag of Hershey’s Kisses in one sitting, try making a smoothie with cocoa powder, or go for dark chocolate.

Dairy, such as pizza, cheese and milkshakes, is another big craving. Cheese contains ingredients – tyramine and L-tryptophan – that easily trigger the “feel-good chemical” serotonin in your brain, which has soothing properties. Dairy also has a creamy factor, which makes it more appealing. When you’re craving dairy, reach for a banana or avocado, two healthy options that may give you the same creamy satisfaction.

Sugar is a big craving for many. Growing up, sweets were given to us often as a reward or for celebration, triggering the release of serotonin – happiness – in our brain. Therefore, when you give in to the craving and have sugar, it acts as a temporary happiness. That’s why when you’re under a lot of stress or feeling a little blue, you crave sugar such as ice cream. Next time, instead of reaching for the sweets, try full-flavored fruits like berries.

Lastly, a big craving is salty snacks. But if I put a saltshaker down in front of you, I highly doubt you’d eat it. Crunch, what you’re really craving, goes hand in hand with salty snacks, such as chips and pretzels. When you’re craving salty and crunchy snacks, chances are you are feeling angry, frustrated or stressed; crunching down on the pretzel or chip is your body’s natural way of punching the wall. Try air-popped popcorn, kale chips or crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and carrots. If those fruits and veggies don’t do it for you, bring out some hummus or guac!

So next time, before you reach for that piece of pizza or cake, check in with how you’re really feeling. If you’re feeling sad, lonely or frustrated, there are better ways and healthier options than going for these cravings.

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