Why Do I Crave Milk? Top Reasons

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Why Do I Crave Milk

Do you crave milk? Do you know why?

First let’s talk about the two types of cravings:

  • Physical hunger
  • Emotional eating

Physical hunger is a craving. A craving for something to eat because your body has run out of calories or nutrients.

Like when an athlete has worked hard and wants to refuel with protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Emotional eating is when we want food even though our bodies do not need more calories or nutrients. This is often related to bingeing on junk food.

Milk cravings can be a sign that we are hungry but they can also be associated with binge eating disorder.

The difference between true physical hunger cravings versus emotional cravings is important.

The goal of this article is to help you better understand what drives your own desires.

At the end we’ll discuss physical hunger / emotional eating info to inform us about:

  • Can drinking too much milk be bad for you?
  • Is drinking a lot of milk good for you?
  • How much milk should I drink a day?

Physical Hunger Versus Emotional Eating

Emotional Hunger Versus Physical Hunger

Many people who are trying to lose weight will say that they crave junk food. Or milk products like ice cream.

This is because emotional hunger can lead you to eat when you don’t need calories and nutrients.

Emotionally hungry people – emotional eaters – often ate a lot of sugary stuff or starchy carbs for the dopamine release in their brain.

Since sugar is great for quick energy, it gives your brain a hit of dopamine which makes you feel happy.

In emotional eating situations you crave this ‘hit’ of dopamine.

In contrast, physical hunger causes your stomach to growl and sends the signal “I’m starving!”, so you naturally want more protein and fat!

Physical hunger sends gradual signals to eat. Emotional eating or binge eating sends urgent signals.

While cravings may sometimes feel out of control… let’s also remember hunger is a valid type of craving too.

Hunger is actually a helpful sign from our body telling us what we need at different points in time!  In contrast, cravings are a sign that something isn’t working well.

Why Do I Crave Milk?

Physical Hunger

healthy eating cycle diagram with 3 steps from hunger, eating, and fullness

The most likely reason you are craving milk is because your body is genuinely hungry.

Milk provides lots of nutrients, proteins and healthy fats. Milk also has important vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and zinc. For a complete nutritional profile on milk click here.

Ever wonder why humans breastfeed as babies? Mothers’ milk has a ton of life sustaining nourishment!

Milk is also super accessible these days too, besides being a great source of calories.

You can easily buy milk at the grocery store. In America, the dairy industry is one of the largest industries. Their corporate presence is felt everywhere.

Often milk comes with added sugars, but not all milks have sugars added.

Either way milk is easy to get. Because milk is so plentiful (again, at least in America), you’ve been familiar with it for your entire life.

Your body knows milk can quickly give you vital nutrition and proteins / fats to help you SURVIVE.

Yes, that’s right.

Your body knows milk helps you survive.

So if you’re hungry, your body most likely is craving milk because you’re deficient in calories for the day!

All this means is that you’re hungry and it’s ok to be hungry! Hunger is important for Survival.

Is drinking a lot of milk good for you?

For the most part, again, milk is fine for you!

By filling up on the protein and fat from glasses of milk, you’ll get less food cravings. You’ll also be less tempted to drink sodas because you’ll be hydrated and have protein already.

But, you can also do without milk too!

You don’t NEED milk.

Sure, milk is good. But water is good too!

You can easily get the proteins and fats one gets from milk, but instead from nuts!

Here are some additional foods you could try that can give you the same basic nutritional profile from milk:

  • A can of tuna has 18 grams of protein and only two grams of fat.
  • One tablespoon (about 14g) of peanut butter has eight grams each of both protein and fat.
  • Almond milk is a great planted-based substitute for cow’s milk. Very similar nutrient profile but no animals involved!

But, emotions definitely play a role too!

Emotional Hunger

emotionally eating milk

When we are feeling stressed, or anxious, and have a lot of pent up emotions inside us……

We often start craving milk, sometimes because it is soothing and sometimes because it goes well with sugar or other tasty foods.

For example, milk goes well with chocolates. Or dipping your cookies in a glass of milk, washing down salty chips, and more.

Here are some common dairy items people emotionally eat:

  • milk with cookies 
  • ice cream
  • pudding

If you look at the list above, these are all foods or combinations of foods that have high amounts of sugar, fat and carbs.

  • When we eat these sugars and fats help us to feel better. Sugars and fats help us feel better by tricking the body into thinking they are helpful for survival.
  • But this can lead us into a cycle where we become dependent on foods to make us feel better

You can tell if you are craving milk in an unhealthy way if you pay attention to whether that’s associated with also craving sugar.

Do you ever desire a nice glass of milk? Or do you always experience milk and sugar cravings together?

Like you want milkshakes and ice cream, more so than just milk?

If you are always craving dairy products with sugar, it’s more likely your cravings are emotional.

Milk Can Help You Calm Down

When a person is very upset, they might be craving milk because of milk’s soothing, calming quality.

But make no mistake – craving milk to calm down is also known as ’emotional eating’.

This soothing quality of milk must be emphasized!

Haven’t you ever felt ill to your stomach and wanted some milk because you were hungry but couldn’t eat?

Here are some other reasons craving for milk can help you calm down:

  • Milk is a good source of vitamins and minerals such as calcium and Vitamin D.
  • Milk can help replenish electrolytes lost from dehydration. Dehydration will make you more prone to stress so hydrating can help. Pure Cow’s Milk is great for this!
  • Drinking milk is shown to lower cortisol levels in the blood, which are high when you’re stressed.
  • This also helps with anxiety, depression and mood swings!

Can drinking too much milk be bad for you?

Of course drinking too much milk is bad for you!

You can have some milk. It’s ok.

You had milk as a baby and having milk has been part of human life for millenia. You can have some milk.

Again, the most likely reason you are craving milk is genuine, physical hunger.

How Much Milk Should I Drink a Day?

Let’s recap so far. Milk can be a great part of your diet – but you don’t need milk either.

The main thing to watch out for is physical hunger.

If you get too physically hungry, then your body might start to crave milk for SURVIVAL reasons.

Here’s what I recommend if you’re craving milk:

Increase your milk intake during the day. Especially if you like milk and find you’re too hungry and losing control around food. 

Again, milk is important because you don’t want to let yourself get too hungry.

Drinking milk at your meals can help you get the proper amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals to stay full during the day.

Final thoughts

In this blog post, we’ve discussed a few of the reasons why people crave milk.

Whether you’re craving it because your body needs nutrients or if you need to calm down after an emotionally stressful day …

There are many times when craving milk can be good for both our mind and body. But the opposite is possible 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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