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Why Do You Crave Certain Foods?

written by: Nicky LaMarco • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 11/26/2009

Ever get a craving for a specific food or a specific type of food? Maybe the craving is for a chocolate bar or for something salty. Do you wonder why cravings exist since they are often annoying and seem unmanageable? So do a whole lot of other people.

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    Hunger or Craving?

    cravings (Leah-Anne Thompson) For one thing, there is a difference between genuine hunger and having a craving for a specific food. Genuine hunger happens when your body is telling you it needs nutrition for good health and calories for energy. Hunger is located in the stomach and when your stomach is growling, it means you need to eat. For many people, hunger is much easier to overcome than a craving. Be that as it may, ignoring hunger is not a particularly good idea since we need to keep our bodies fueled for physical and mental energy.

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    Reasons for Food Cravings

    Cravings fall into a different category. Some people think they come only from our mind, some think they come from our stomach, and others think there is a link to both. Do food cravings come from your mind? Some probably do. Cravings can be linked to happy experiences or childhood family rituals. Think how many people say that their mother’s Thanksgiving turkey stuffing is the world’s best or that their mother’s potato salad can’t be beat? Memories can be powerful when it comes to food cravings especially if those memories are happy ones. Food cravings can also be summoned up by other emotions such as fear. If you are afraid, you may have cravings for the foods that you equate with being comfort foods, i.e., macaroni and cheese, a pint of a favorite flavor of ice cream, or a bag of chips.

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    When Your Body Craves Foods

    Other cravings may be nutritionally based. If your body needs quick energy, you may want to eat some sugary carbohydrates. If you need long-lasting energy, you may crave pasta covered with a high-fat sauce. Ever wonder why world-class athletes often “carb up” before an event? They know they need long-lasting energy. It is not at all uncommon for food cravings to increase when a person is on an eating plan that severely restricts certain food groups. If you are low-carbing it to the point of eliminating all vegetables, all fruit and all other sources of carbs, developing food cravings for items in the forbidden categories is almost a given. Many people develop food cravings for a specific food or food category as soon as their doctor tells them to restrict or eliminate that item. On-going studies are being done about cravings, so it safe to say that more will be revealed on this interesting and somewhat perplexing subject.