Why Do I Crave Crunchy Foods? 8 Reasons Why

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why do I crave crunchy foods

Do you crave crunchy foods? If so, why do you think that is?

There are many reasons why people crave crunchy food, like pickles or chips. Some people may just want to eat something delicious and enjoy the sound of crunching.

Other people might because they’re stressed or have a habit of chewing on things.

Let’s distinguish real quickly between two important concepts behind crunch cravings, specifically crunch texture and crunch noise:

  • Crunch Texture: The crispy texture of foods like chips, carrots, etc. Or, the lack of crunchiness like soft ice cream.
  • Crunch Noise: The noise certain foods make when you bite down on them.

Both noise and texture are important for reasons we cover down below. Here are the eight reasons why we crave crunchy foods!

1 – Crunchy Texture Means Fresh

Humans have a tendency to crave crunchy foods because we perceive crunchy foods as being fresh. 

Let’s take lettuce for example. Can you recall biting into some crisp green lettuce you bought straight from the farmer’s market?

Well, what if you let that lettuce sit in your refrigerator for a week? The lettuce would become more brown, stale and wilted.

Crunchy foods have a crisper and crunchier texture.

When you bite into something that has this type of crisp texture it lets you know your food hasn’t gone bad yet!

Here’s a quick list of foods that are crunchy when fresh but turn soggy, melt or dry up when you leave them out on the counter.

I could list many more examples but I think you get the point!

  • lettuce
  • grape
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • ice cream
  • green beans
  • zucchini slices

In fact, texture can be such a powerful craving trigger that people crave ice due to the crunchy texture!

2 – Crunchy Noises Seem More Crisp

Do you know that major chip manufacturers like Lays are well aware of the ‘crunch’ factor?

What do I mean by ‘crunch’ factor? It’s simple. Chips with a certain degree of crunchiness are seen as more flavorful, fresh and sell better than non-crunchy chips.

There’s been fascinating research that backs this point.

Dr. Charles Spence from Oxford University ran experiments where he tested crunch. He had people listen to recordings of crunchy noises and eat chips at the same time.

But for some participants he turned down the volume on some recordings. The results? Those participants rated the chips lower on freshness and crispiness.

Other participants had the crunch volume turned up. They rated the chips higher.

Check out this New York Times article which details the $40,000 chewing simulators at a Frito-Lay plant in Texas.

The Frito-Lay team discovered the ‘ideal breaking point’ for a chip was specifically four pounds of pressure per square inch.

(Compare this to a steak which has a breaking point of 200 pounds per square inch.)

The conclusions of the Frito-Lay study were simple and they set the stage for the rest of this article:

If chips are too thick or hard, people don’t like them. Too thin and they crumble. But the right amount of crunch people like. Even ice crunches!

3 – Tasty Crunchy Foods!

What are some of your favorite crunchy foods? Think about why you love them so much and why that is.

  • Toasted bread with butter
  • Popcorn! 
  • Nachos!
  • Pretzels!
  • Chips and salsa!

Crunchy foods are usually really tasty. Which is why people get food cravings for them so often.

Crunchy foods also make us feel satisfied after eating because they tend to be high in fat and protein, which can help you stay full longer too. Protein and fat also help you maintain a healthy weight.

Basically, you might be really hungry and need to fill up your stomach. Hint: try protein instead!

Your brain associates crunchy foods as being high in calories. So it gives you crunchy cravings to make you go chow down on some foods that will fill you up.

Taste of course drives all sorts of cravings, including strange cravings – like mustard cravings or ice cravings.

4 – Crunchy Sounds Are Fun!

Crunchy foods are fun to eat because people enjoy the sound of crunching.

When you hear that satisfying crunch as you’re eating something delicious, it helps keep you focused on your eating experience (more on this point below!).

Crunchy foods are also fun to eat because humans tend to like making noises while they chew on food (this includes chewing gum).

When you hear all that satisfying crunch, crack and snap as you eat your food, it makes the experience a lot more fun! Ever wonder why people add nuts and sprinkles to their bowl of ice cream? Or even ice cream cones for that matter?

It’s the cravings for crunch! Both taste and sound!

It’s like eating popcorn at the movies. Admit it, part of the popcorn experience are the noises! And you don’t want to miss any of those delicious noises!

Nom nom nom. Crunchity crunch – munch. Mmmmm…good stuff there. 🙂

Why do I like crunchy sounds?

For the truly curious minds, you might be wondering why exactly you like crunchy sounds.

In my opinion, the answer lies in evolutionary biology.

See, humans for millions of years needed to quickly discern whether the foods they were eating were fresh, old, or rotten.

Crunch was one way you could easily gather information about a food by just taking one bite.

Instead of having to eat the entire wilted plant to discover there were bugs in the stalks, you could just take a bite and realize the plant wasn’t any good for consumption!

Here is an ASMR video which actually supposedly helps people relax to the sound of crunchy food noises!

YouTube player

5 – Crunch Makes You Mindful

Crispy bread, chips and salsa, corn on the cob – these are all crunchy foods that people love to eat and get food cravings for!

What is behind the craving appeal of crunchy food? Well, one theory posits that the crunchiness makes you more mindful.

For example, have you ever been day dreaming and realized you ate too much?

Well, crunchy sounds and textures can help ‘snap’ you back out of daydreaming and into the present moment.

There is something unpredictable and surprising about crunchy foods. You don’t know when the next big snap, crackle and pop will occur!

Then you are much more likely to enjoy your crunchy eating experience because you are present instead of daydreaming!

Why do I crave crunchy salty things?

Are you wondering why you’re getting cravings for salty crunchy things?

Salt is a mineral that has been used as early as 5000 BC.

It was originally extracted from saltwater by evaporating it to dryness and then collecting the crystals of pure sodium chloride, which are what we call table salt today!

Saltiness helps enhance flavors in food. It can also be physiologically addictive because humans tend to crave things with high concentrations of these minerals (salt).

So why do I crave crunchy salty foods? Salt makes everything taste better so you want more of it. Including crunchy snacks like potato chips, pretzels, popcorn and much more! 🙂

6 – Crunchy Foods Relieve Jaw Tension

Another reason people crave crunchy foods is because the sound and texture relieves jaw tension.

Jaw tension is a lot like any other type of muscle pain – it can range from very mild to severe.

The best way to relieve jaw tension is by de-tensing the muscle with massage techniques. But there are some other ways you can help yourself out too.

One thing you can do is chew on a piece of hard candy or gum! This will cause your brain to release chemicals that will ease some of the discomfort caused by your tight jaws and muscles. 

Of course you could also try crunchy foods like crackers, chips or corn to help you relieve jaw tension. Plus they’ll make eating much more enjoyable too!

But if the pain doesn’t go away then it’s time for some medical attention.

You may have TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder which is caused by stress, trauma or damage from teeth grinding.

This condition often causes pain in the mouth as well as neck and shoulder pain. If this is happening to you please talk to your doctor about further treatment options.

Sometimes people are anxious too, and they get jaw tension.

7 – Distraction From Emotions

Crunchy foods, such as chips or pretzels or popcorn, can also be a form of emotional escapism for some people.

When you’re upset it is often hard to eat normal foods without feeling sick to your stomach. Sometimes people lose their appetite and hunger. They get so anxious and nauseous even milk chocolate won’t soothe.

But crunchy foods often don’t have that same effect on people.

It’s almost like the crunchiness makes you feel better and forget about those emotions.

Some people believe that once you start crunching on something, the act of chewing releases endorphins in your brain. These endorphins then lead to a feeling of euphoria. In their view, chewing on crunchy foods is like exercise!

Admittedly, this sounds a bit far-fetched to me. Instead, I believe that crunchy foods can help distract you from painful emotions or stress.

The crunchy flavor and noises give you something to focus on. And this ties back into mindful eating too!

The same reasons why crunchy foods make you a more mindful eater, are the same reasons they distract you from painful emotions.

Let’s face it. Oftentimes negative emotions are the result of you worrying about the future or regretting the past.

Basically, you are thinking and this thinking is causing you to be upset. But, if you have a crunchy food snack that draws your attention back into the present moment …

Well then you’re going to eat more mindfully and, in the process, stop dwelling on those negative thoughts polluting your mind! Instead try journaling to get unstuck!

Oh, and I did mention crunchy foods taste pretty good too?

8 – Preferred Mouth Behavior Likes Crunchy Foods

Another reason people crave crunchy foods is due to their preferred mouth behavior.

I know preferred mouth behavior sounds like a silly concept, but there’s actually pretty solid science behind the idea.

Turns out there are four different categories of ‘preferred mouth behavior’. This is basically just a way of categorizing your health nibbling desires 🙂

  1. Crunchers
  2. Chewers
  3. Suckers
  4. Smooshers

Some people prefer the feel of crunching food with their teeth instead of chewing. And of course is why they will crave crunchy foods more in their daily diet.

I know this sounds a little weird, but when you think about it … why would you really want sugar gummy bears? Or why are people eating crunchy foods such as chips or pretzels if they could just be chewing their food to the same result?

It’s because some people prefer the feel of crunched up food and don’t want anything soft between those hard teeth.

Does this explain your crunch craving? Let me know in the comments below!

And last but not least, let’s examine some more food choices if you’re craving something crunchy and don’t know where to turn.

What Should I Eat When I Crave Crunchy Food?

If you’re looking for some crunchy foods on the healthier side try out these ideas: 

  • almonds
  • apple slices
  • carrots and celery sticks with hummus
  • granola bars
  • whole wheat pretzels or chips
  • baby carrots with a peanut butter dip

Why Do I Crave Crunchy Food – Final Thoughts

So, crunchy textures can remind you of freshness, and they make food seem more crisp and tasty.

Crunching on foods also provides a sensory experience that is fun to have! No wonder we experience craving for crunchy foods.

If the lack-luster texture or taste of your dish starts getting old for some reason, add in some crunchiness. Maybe that’s what you are really craving.

We hope this article has given you plenty of ideas about how you could incorporate it into yours too!

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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