Do you ever get a craving for a certain type of food? If so, you’re not alone.
A craving is defined as “an intense desire for something,” and it’s something that many people experience on a regular basis. So in the case of a food craving, it’s an intense desire for some specific food.
While there are many factors that can contribute to cravings, there are some common causes that stand out above the rest.
In this blog post, we will discuss the top reasons why people crave food!
First though let’s talk about cravings in general.
What cravings are telling you?
Normally people see a food craving as bad.
They try to manage, control and diet their way around cravings.
Instead, you must see cravings as valid signals from your body and mind. Learning to listen to cravings is the key to freedom.
Seeing cravings as meaningful pieces of information that are NOT bad is a huge shift in perspective.
Normally people think cravings are like the devil on their shoulder, but when you can start to understand why cravings happen in general then you can start to understand your specific cravings.
As you understand your cravings, you won’t be so fearful or hateful towards them.
With more understanding and psychological clarity you won’t need to think about food all day, and one day your binges will go away too!
1 – Working all day (exhausted craving quick energy)
One of the most common reasons people crave food is because they are tired.
When we are fatigued, our bodies need energy to function properly.
Junk food can provide a temporary burst of energy with its high sugar content that’s quickly digested.
If you’re working all day and are thinking about various deadlines while trying to manage your weight, you’ll be exhausted by day’s end!
You will be craving a sugary treat not only for an energy burst but also because …
2 – You can’t stop thinking (craving mental quietude)
If you’re someone who is constantly thinking, your mind might never rest.
You might be thinking about work, school, family, friends, or anything else that’s going on in your life.
This can lead to stress and anxiety, which can then lead to cravings.
When we are stressed out, our bodies crave sugar and fat because these provide some relief from the constant thinking and agonizing.
- Before bingeing you might start to fantasize about food images. This helps to distract your brain from your daily worries.
- When you’re stuffing your face with sugary foods, you are not thinking logically. The act of eating helps shut your brain down.
- After eating when you’re bloated, you are numb and can’t think straight either. While miserable, at least you aren’t worrying about your damn to-do list!
In addition to needing an energy boost and mental quiet, you might also be craving because …
3 – You’re bored (craving stimulus)
Now that you’re finally home, it’s time to relax.
Or maybe it’s right after work and NOW it’s time to relax!
Ok great, you relax and kick up your feet, turn on the tunes.
But something feels wrong.
You’re so habituated to stress. It’s like you’re addicted to the constant doing.
Now that you finally have some downtime, you’re practically miserable!
Of course there are endless entertainment options today, but nothing quite satisfies you like a face full of chocolates.
But why does boredom create so much misery for you specifically? Like your friends can be bored without compulsively bingeing – why can’t you?
Well, if your childhood was filled with neglect, then boredom might remind you of being alone.
Even if this sounds silly, on a subconscious level this could be one reason why boredom is so horrible for you.
4 – You restricted during the day (craving a “treat”)
If you worked all day yesterday and then binged because you were bored and needed to calm down …
Then of course you’re feeling guilty, bloated and more determined than ever to never binge or compulsively eat ever again.
That feeling where your cheeks are visibly bloated is the worst!
So you are “good” the whole day.
You restrict your calories, you don’t eat anything “bad”, and you even work out.
But by the end of the day you feel so deprived that you can’t help but to get chocolate cravings and overeat.
You feel like you’ve been good all day, so now you deserve a treat!
And what better way to reward yourself than with some sugary, fatty, fried foods!
You might think that you deserve a treat because you were good all day, but in reality …
You are only setting yourself up for another binge.
If you truly want to overcome your craving for food, it is important to be mindful of what you are eating and not to restrict yourself.
If you are constantly depriving yourself of certain foods, you will only crave them more.
It is important to have a healthy relationship with food and not see certain foods as “off limits”.
5 – You’re hungry (craving fuel)
If you’ve restricted or tried to be “good” then odds are you’re fairly hungry at the end of the night.
But wait! You just had a big dinner. Shouldn’t you be satisfied and full now?
No! One big dinner does not make up for a day of restriction and hardly eating anything.
Even if you are not purposefully trying to limit your calories, if you are stressed out and under lots of pressure you may forget to eat.
Have you ever accidentally skipped a meal? I know I have!
Whether by restriction or by accident, if you are hungry at the end of the day this can be another valid reason why you’re craving food.
Your body is craving energy and nutrients, so of course you’re going to be drawn to foods that will give you a quick boost.
These sugary, fatty foods may not be the most nutritious but they are certainly the most satisfying when you’re hungry!
6 – Food triggers (unconscious triggers craving)
A trigger is something that sets off a craving or a binge.
For some people, it might be the smell of baking cookies that sets off more food cravings.
Other people might be triggered by their favorite TV show.
If you are trying to overcome your craving for food, it is important to become aware of your triggers and avoid them if possible.
One very common food cravings trigger is “Netflix and Chill”.
You know, when you’re mindlessly scrolling through Netflix and you see your favorite show come up.
You think to yourself “I’ll just watch one episode” but before you know it, a bag of popcorn is in your hands and you’re chowing down.
Another common trigger is being around other people who are eating.
If you are trying to lose weight or be healthier, this can be a very difficult trigger to avoid.
One way to avoid this trigger is by not being around food when you’re hungry.
If you know you’ll be tempted to eat if you see other people eating, try to eat before you go out or bring your own food with you.
These are just a few examples of triggers that can set off a craving for food.
By becoming aware of your triggers, you can avoid them and hopefully overcome your food cravings for good!
Other factors that cause food cravings
There are many factors besides the top 6 reasons we listed above.
- Genetic – if your parents craved food and struggled with food intake (and you do too) then genetics can help explain your relationship with food
- Hormones – when you’re craving food, it could be because of a hormonal imbalance
- Legitimate hunger – hunger pangs are part of healthy eating
- Past history of dieting – if you’ve dieted in the past, you’re more likely to struggle with food cravings
- Social cues – being around people who are eating can trigger a craving
- Advertising and marketing – we are constantly bombarded with ads for unhealthy foods which can lead to cravings, seeing images of food can trigger a craving, especially if you’re hungry
- Dehydration – if you’re dehydrated, you may be more likely to crave sugary drinks or salty snacks
- *Unconscious forces – Shadow, Inner Critic, Rebel, Diet Voice, etc … these can cause you to self-sabotage with food without your conscious decision
*Unconscious forces are the things we work on at Eating Enlightenment! You start by journaling, and quickly start to become more aware of these unconscious energies and “parts”.
As you get more knowledge of these internal dynamics, you create a map of your inner world and how it relates to food. Then you can understand why you binge and how to stop.
Intuitive Eating comes much more naturally from this point onward.
Are cravings signs of deficiency?
Sometimes cravings are a sign of nutritional deficiency, while other times cravings are a sign of an emotional deficiency or an unmet emotional need.
If you find yourself craving certain foods, it might be your body’s way of telling you that it needs certain nutrients.
Craving sweets could be a sign that you need more carbohydrates, craving salty foods could be a sign that you need more sodium, and craving fatty foods could be a sign that you need more fat.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should give into your cravings and eat unhealthy foods!
- If you are craving sweets, try to satisfy your craving with something like fruit instead of cake or cookies.
- If you are craving salty foods, try to satisfy your craving with something like popcorn instead of chips.
- And if you are craving fatty foods, try to satisfy your craving with something like nuts or avocado instead of fried food.
Other times cravings occur because of an unmet emotional need.
If you find yourself craving certain foods when you’re feeling certain emotions, it might be because you’re using food to cope with those emotions.
For example, if you find yourself craving ice cream when you’re feeling sad, it might be because you’re using ice cream as a way to comfort yourself.
An unconscious force within you might have a belief about sadness.
While you may consciously recognize sadness is a part of life, an unconscious part of you from childhood may think sadness is a sign of failure, low worth or danger.
So whenever you feel sad, even a tiny bit, the unconscious part of you blocks out sadness with food!
In this case, learning how to process sadness, your unconscious dynamics, and how it relates to food is important.
If you are struggling with cravings, emotions and food – particularly the unconscious forces – then it’s best you see a Food Cravings Coach.
We offer free 45-minute breakthrough calls where you’ll get clarity and feel much better about how you can discover food freedom. Book here.
Tell me the meaning of “craving”?
Cravings are defined as “excess, immediate, or abnormal desire for anything” in the dictionary.
When there’s nothing else to eat, food cravings can strike. It’s an intense desire for a specific food, and it can feel like you cannot resist or control the craving. You may crave foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat.
As noted above, these cravings can be caused by many things such as stress, hormones, boredom, or dehydration. If you’re trying to eat healthy and have a craving for unhealthy foods, try to find a healthy alternative that will satisfy the craving.
If you’re still struggling with food cravings, despite trying everything then it’s best to see a Food Cravings Coach for help.
Food cravings and emotions
Food cravings and emotions are very much connected. When we feel certain emotions, we may start to crave foods that will comfort us.
For example, if we’re feeling sad then we may crave sugary foods because they make us feel better in the moment. However, these emotional eating habits can lead to weight gain and other health problems in the long run.
That’s why it’s important to learn how to deal with our emotions in a healthy way, without using food as a crutch.
If you want to learn more about emotional eating and how to break the unhealthy food cycle, then book a free call with me today.
Food Craving Conclusion
Craving can tell you a lot about yourself, and it’s important to pay attention to what your cravings are trying to communicate.
If you can understand the underlying messages your cravings are sending, you can take steps to address them.
Now that you know why food cravings happen, if you want to learn much more about how to stop food cravings then read our 16 ways to stop food cravings.
In that post we talk about more food cravings, especially if you crave a particular food (like sweet foods).
We also talk about ways to reduce cravings for comfort foods, high calorie foods and other odd eating behaviors.
For example, if you experience food cravings then did you know research suggests that chewing gum can help? Of course eating balanced meals are the best way to stop sugar cravings or eating out on fast food – but still, crazy huh? Who knew gum could be helpful!
What was your biggest takeaway from this post?