Why We Get Food Cravings

If you have been on a restrictive diet (or two or three) that eliminated one or more types of foods, then you have probably experienced food cravings and also know they always win out, regardless of how hard you try to resist.

Have you ever wondered why they happen and why they are so powerful?

What you probably didn’t know is that even if you are not “dieting”, you can get food cravings. One school of thought is that they are a conditioned response. Say for example you come home and every day you stop by the pantry and grab a handful of potato chips. If then one day you don’t grab that handful, your body recognizes it missing something from the normal routine and responds by creating a craving for potato chips. That is what is known as a conditioned response to an environment type of food craving.

Gender can also play a role in creating food cravings. Men for example tend to crave pasta, pizza and soup whereas women go for the candy, chocolate, cakes and ice cream.

Of course, mood can be a big driver of food cravings too. Many people turn to “comfort food” when depressed or stressed as a way to feel better. That is more of an emotional eating response type of craving.

Back to dieting; if your “diet” is restrictive, in that a certain food group is eliminated while you are on that diet, over time your body will respond by creating a craving for that food it misses. This is more of a nutritional deficiency type of food craving; something your body needs is missing from your diet. 

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