Cookies and milk are okay some of the time, but what if you get cookie cravings all the time?
Are cookie cravings a warning sign you are addicted to food?
Or maybe your cookie cravings are trying to send you a message about something else in your life?
The answer of course depends on your situation.
This post will give you a good understanding of why you are getting cookie cravings and how to make them stop.
There are three basic reasons you get cookie cravings, and for each of these reasons there is a corresponding solution.
Let’s start off with why we get cookie cravings in the first place:
Why Am I Craving Cookies?
Reason #1 – Hunger: body needs more fuel, and cookies are convenient
Cookies are known for their high sugar and fat content.
(Please note that other foods like ice cream or chocolate may also contain high amounts of sugar and fat. While this article specifically focuses on cookie cravings, you can also substitute the advice below for chocolate, ice cream or other foods.)
If you have skipped a few meals that day, or are on a restrictive diet, then it’s very likely your body needs to get more fuel.
Generally speaking our bodies need a complete breakfast, lunch and dinner filled with wholesome foods in order to feel best.
If you aren’t getting at least 3 square meals of food a day, along with a healthy snack or two, then your body will need more fuel from somewhere else.
Here’s a review from government health research from 2015-2020 that provides standard dietary guidelines.
Cookies happen to be a very convenient way for your body to get those calories and energy you might be lacking.
Why are cookies convenient? A few cookies contain a lot of calories, and they are available pretty much anywhere today and at a cheap price.
Reason #2 – Impulses: cookie cravings confused for hunger or impulses
Are you really hungry for cookies specifically?
Or are you just kind of hungry meandering through the grocery store and don’t know what to eat, but you see cookies while so why not buy a bag of Oreos?
Or maybe you happen to see some fresh cookies as you scroll the menu for an online food delivery service and you feel an impulse to order?
These decisions that you make quickly in the moment without planning ahead of time are known as types of ‘fast’ decisions or impulses.
Understanding these impulses are important if you want to stop your cookie cravings.
Hunger and impulses are different from genuine cravings, although all three may feel similar.
Cravings are specific. You have to have a cookie. And if you don’t have a cookie, the feeling won’t go away.
A craving feeling is like poison. It gets worse over time. It won’t go away either, unless you follow your craving and give in!
However, hunger is more vague and general. You may feel a desire to eat but don’t necessarily care exactly what you eat.
Impulses are strong in the moment but may disappear rapidly.
Like standing in the grocery line, if you had never seen the bag of Oreos you would have never had the impulse to buy them.
Impulses are different from cravings in that impulses die away after the stimulus is gone.
In the grocery store example for impulses, after you left the grocery line you would have forgotten about the cookies.
However, if you were experiencing a craving, then even after you left the line you would continue to think about the cookies.
Which are you experiencing in relation to your cookie cravings? Impulses, cravings or hunger?
It may help to write down what’s happening in a journal page to understand whether you are experiencing cravings, impulses or hunger because food can be complex.
Reason #3 – Cravings: cookies are deeply linked to how you deal with stress
Be honest here, because most people are not consciously aware if they are using food to cope with stress.
But, really think hard here today, and answer honestly: do you tend to grab cookies when you should be concentrating on something else?
Like do you constantly find yourself reaching for cookies at work, but then when you get home you are no longer craving cookies?
See, when you eat a cookie, you temporarily stop thinking about work.
Plus, your brain gets a hit of dopamine as you anticipate eating the new cookies. And you might also feel calmer as you eat the cookies.
See how cookies could help with stress, at least in the short term?
In the long term, cookies will make your stress worse because you aren’t doing what you need to get done.
And of course too many cookies leads to weight gain and other not so good health outcomes.
However, in the short term, cookies actually do work for stress relief, so it’s pretty understandable that you would want them.
So. When do you want cookies? And is this related to stress for you?
This wraps up the three basic reasons behind cookie cravings – hunger, impulses and genuine cravings.
And again remember that the same reasons apply to cravings for other foods like ice cream, chocolate, or anything else that may contain high amounts of sugar.
How To Stop Cookie Cravings
For starters, you have to be clear about whether your cookie cravings are related to hunger, impulses, or genuine cravings.
Most likely you will have some combination of all three factors.
This means you will most likely need to utilize a combination of all three solutions down below.
Again, if you need any help, be sure to send an email to an eating counselor for help and support.
Let’s dive in:
Hunger Solution: Eat more wholesome foods more regularly
Here are some keys if your cookie cravings are because you are truly physically hungry:
- Have a hearty breakfast, lunch, dinner. And maybe a snack or two.
- Eat whole foods that come from nature for the most part.
- Have a variety of proteins, carbs and fats at each meal
- Try not to skip meals
There’s no magic secret here. This is basic nutrition information you’ll hear anywhere.
But don’t make this overly complex. I can’t tell you how many slices of whole wheat bread I have with peanut butter.
Whole wheat bread and peanut butter is a great snack.
I use this example just to show you that eating wholesome foods to fulfill your hunger needs doesn’t need to be complex or difficult.
You really do not need to order food online or even spend much time in the kitchen to implement this hunger solution.
For dinner, a quick and easy option is brown rice, chicken and veggies. It might take 15 minutes to prepare.
And feel free to eat some chocolate or other foods that contain sugar, too.
I’m not talking about eliminating anything from your diet. I just want to make sure you have a solid eating foundation.
Craving Solution: Learn the cues of your cravings and how to surf your cravings
One very useful technique to deal with cravings involves mindfulness. To understand this technique, imagine an ocean wave.
Like a wave, the feeling of the craving grows and grows, getting more intense. It can feel like a press squeezing you!
Eventually there is a peak to the craving and then you experience something new. The ‘wave’ of craving feeling dissipates. It dies down just like an ocean wave after the wave peaks and crashes on the shore.
So instead of denying the craving or panicking, just try to stay calm and try to ‘be with’ the craving until it naturally passes away.
You feel the craving and notice how the feeling of the cookie craving gets more intense.
This ‘surfing’ technique also applies to stress as well.
When you feel anxious, then try to ‘surf’ your anxiety.
Admittedly, this might be difficult in the beginning, especially because oftentimes anxiety and food cravings can appear together.
Yet with practice and following the other steps listed in this article, you can see success.
Impulse Solution: Make sure your environment does not visually trigger you
If your cravings are more like impulses, then you will need to study what triggers your cravings.
For example, do you reach for the cookies every time you sit down to watch a movie?
Or maybe you always get a bag of cookies after you leave work?
In these cases it’s possible that your couch or leaving the office are environmental cues that create impulses to get more cookies.
To break your automatic impulses,it’ll be useful if you pause before you eat and question, “Am I really hungry or am I just eating out of routine?”
It will really help if you write down your experience using text – written or typed – as well.
You will start to catch yourself as you eat out of habit, instead of out of hunger.
Then you have the opportunity to make a better decision.
With that being said, let me know your thoughts down below in the comment section!
What’s the cause behind your cookie cravings?