Why do I crave pasta all the time?
It’s a question that many people ask themselves when they find themselves craving carbs.
There are so many delicious options out there but why is it always pasta? Pasta is good and tasty, certainly, but you might be wondering why do I want pasta all the time?
Of course, one of the most common reasons why we crave carbohydrates, such as pasta, is because our bodies lack certain nutrients or energy sources.
This blog post will explore why you might be craving carbs like spaghetti and what you can do about it!
What Deficiency Causes Carb Cravings?
Before we talk about specific nutrients you’re missing let’s discuss the ‘Big Picture’ reason you’re craving carbs.
Of course there are other valid reasons you crave carbs. But for the most part, we can summarize carb cravings for pasta as occurring for one main reason:
You are Energy Deficient.
Your body lacks energy so it craves carbs. Carbohydrates contain a lot of energy your body can easily digest and rapidly use as fuel.
Just think about any other type of craving. Let’s use ‘water’ as an example.
When you are thirsty, what do you crave? You probably crave a liquid of some sorts, right?
Of course it’s possible that you crave a sugary soda too. And you might say, “Well, sodas dehydrate me so why would I crave sodas when I am thirsty?”
I hope you realize soda companies spend millions of dollars trying to trick your mind and body into thinking soda hydrates you!
For the most part however, you crave what your body is lacking.
- You crave water or juice when you’re lacking enough water in your body
- Crave food when you’re hungry
- Crave sleep when you’re sleepy
So … since carbohydrates contain relatively little nutrients and also contain lots of energy … our train of logic is pretty simple:
You crave carbs from pasta because your body is lacking enough energy. This is the main reason you are hungry all the time!
Now you might be thinking, “But I have carbs everyday and for most of my meals. I am NOT lacking ‘energy’ because I already ate carbs!”
I will discuss this phenomenon in depth after we cover the primary examples:
1) Too much exercise
The first situation where you might crave carbs is due to too much exercise.
That’s why marathon training and athletes often develop carb cravings. I’m sure you know how much food Michael Phelps would eat every day in order to swim like a dolphin!
You’ll need a lot of energy for an event like that (or for an Olympic race), so most people will start eating more carbohydrates in order to provide their body with the fuel it needs!
I know you may not be an Olympic swimmer or crazy exerciser, but let’s also consider some everyday situations:
- Wandering around all day shopping and running errands. That’s a lot of walking!
- Taking a really hard exercise class (or even a fun exercise class that wipes you out!)
- Going on a long hike over the weekend
2) Too much stress
In addition, when your body goes into ‘fight or flight mode’, it releases cortisol (the stress hormone) which increases appetite – even if you are not hungry at all.
Cortisol is not the only change your body goes through during stressful times too. In stressful situations your body:
- Tenses up (squeezing the muscles burns energy)
- Heart rate increases (more energy burn there too)
- Thinks really fast (we’ll cover thinking down below)
Just think about how many times you get stressed out during the day.
Even little stressors like hitting multiple red lights on the way to work can get your heartrate elevated!
- Sitting in traffic (can be stressful even though you’re not doing anything!)
- Talked to your boss about why you didn’t get that project done on time
- Got into an argument with your partner (or child)
All these little events can add up when it comes to stress. And the more stressed out you are, the more likely it is that you will crave carbs!
Why? When you’re stressed your body thinks that it’s in danger, so better pack on the carbs to feel safe!
3) Too much thinking and worrying
I’m sure you know about ‘negativity bias‘.
- Negative headlines capture more attention
- Humans worry about bad things more than good (it’s why bad news sells more than positive news)
Now with social media and instant internet access, people are bombarded by negative messages that cause us to worry!
We have a good amount of evidence from studies on what happens inside our bodies during prolonged periods of worry and anxiety:
- Our stomachs produce more acid
- Blood sugar levels increase (this means there might be less available energy)
- The production rate of insulin increases (insulin stores excess sugar as fat)
So … while exercise and stress are obvious culprits of carb cravings … we also need to consider our thoughts as well!
Mental stress is just as much a culprit behind carb cravings as exercising too much!
4) Too much busyness (not enough time to eat)
The final primary example is that a lot of people don’t have enough time to eat during the day.
I’m sure you can relate!
People are always rushing to work, running around all day. And when they finally get back home after a long day … what do they see? An empty fridge with no time left for cooking dinner.
It’s why we have so many frozen food options available at the grocery store or convenience stores now. People don’t want to spend their whole evening in the kitchen while everyone else is watching TV!
But … what frequently happens … is you don’t eat enough during the day.
Think about the last time you had a proper breakfast, a hearty lunch and a filling dinner. Hardly ever!
Instead what probably happens is …
- You are stressed and thinking in your head so you skimp out on lunch
- And earlier in the day you just had coffee for breakfast!
- Now it’s almost dinner time and you are running on empty
Cue carb carving onset!
There are other reasons besides an energy deficiency that explain your carb cravings!
5 – Flavor
Pasta has many different sauces and therefore many different flavors.
What if you’ve had a boring day?
What better way to get a jolt of excitement as you think about what flavor of pasta you’ll soon enjoy?
There’s red sauce, hearty meat sauces, white sauces, and cheese sauces!
If you’re like most people, you probably have a favorite flavor of pasta.
But why do you crave that specific flavor?
Maybe it’s the way the sauce clings to the pasta or how the cheese melts in your mouth. Or the juicy meat in a delicious red sauce.
Whatever the reason, there’s no denying that pasta is one of the most versatile and delicious foods out there.
So why not try something new and explore all the different flavors of pasta that are out there? Who knows, you might just find a new favorite!
Why am I craving noodles?
Noodles are a form of pasta. This means many of the same reasons you crave pasta also apply to noodles.
Noodles have a slightly different texture than pasta however. This can add to the comfort of eating them.
There are many reasons why you might be craving noodles. Maybe you grew up eating them and they bring back happy memories.
Or, maybe you’re just in the mood for something carb-heavy and filling.
Ok … are we clear?
Now let’s circle back an talk about situations where you are already eating lots of carbohydrates, yet still you crave more pasta and carbs. What gives?!
In order to understand this phenomenon, we’ll have to take a look at blood sugar levels.
How the Rise and Fall of Blood Sugar Levels Cause Carb Cravings
Throughout the day, your blood sugar levels rise and fall.
When you eat a meal, your blood sugar level rises. When you have super high blood sugar levels this will give you lots of energy.
Just think about Michael Phelps who ate tons of carbs so he could exert tons of energy.
But, what about when blood sugar levels are low?
When blood sugar levels are low, you will start feeling:
This is why some people feel fatigued after a day of fasting and why they often crave pasta during the evening hours as their blood sugar level dips lower.
If your blood sugar levels are low, you’ll feel tired and want to crave carbs for energy. If they are at normal levels then you won’t have crazy cravings.
Admittedly this is a complex topic so if you want to learn more read this Diabetes article here.
Carbs burn fast; Protein/fat burns slow
Here is a graph that shows how fast your blood sugar level rises and falls when eating carbohydrates.
Do you see how fast the blood sugar rises and then falls?
On the flipside, your body uses proteins and fat very slowly. Do you see how the blood sugar levels rise and fall more slowly when consuming protein and fat?
So … if you ate carbs for breakfast and now you’re wondering why you are craving carbs again at lunch …
It’s because your body got a temporary high from the carbohydrates in the morning. But now your blood sugar levels have become low again.
I know it’s only been a few hours since you last ate carbs. It might seem really weird that you just had a bowl of spaghetti or a slice of pizza and then in seemingly no time at all you are craving carbs again.
But! This is because your blood sugar levels are low.
- If you are eating carbs and keep on craving carbs, then your diet is lacking protein and fat.
- The carbs you are eating go through your body too quickly and you are left hungry and depleted even though you just recently ate a ton of carbohydrates.
- You must balance out your carb heavy meals with more protein. Lots more!
How do I stop craving pasta?
I know it can feel really frustrating to crave carbs all the time.
But before you go into a carb coma, take a look at your diet and see if any of these four primary reasons are contributing factors.
So … while exercise and stress are obvious culprits of carb cravings … we also need to consider our thoughts as well!
Really consider if you are listening to your body (or if you are wrapped up in your head in worry, skipping meals, not eating enough, etc)
Think about whether you are eating protein, fat and meals regularly during the day to keep your blood sugar levels balanced too.
What does craving for pasta mean?
If you’re wondering why you’re suddenly craving pasta, there are a few possible explanations.
1. You May Be Stressed Out
If you’ve been feeling extra stressed lately, that could be why you’re craving pasta. When we’re under stress, our bodies release the hormone cortisol. Cortisol has been shown to increase appetite and cravings for high-carbohydrate foods. So if you’re feeling stressed, that could explain why pasta is sounding so good.
2. You Might Be Bored
Boredom is another common trigger for cravings. When we’re bored, we often turn to food for comfort or entertainment. And since pasta is such a versatile dish, it’s easy to see why it would be a go-to food when you’re feeling bored. There are endless ways to make pasta, so you can always find a new way to prepare it if you’re starting to feel bored with your usual recipes.
3. You May Be Dehydrated (from too much exercise)
Dehydration can also lead to cravings, especially for carbohydrates like pasta. When you’re dehydrated, your body tries to hold on to the water it does have, which can lead to feelings of hunger. So if you’re craving pasta, make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day.
4. You May Be deficient in Certain Nutrients
If you’re not getting enough of certain nutrients, your body may start to crave foods that can provide those nutrients. For example, if you’re low in iron, you may start to crave pasta because it’s a good source of iron. If you think you might be deficient in a nutrient, talk to your doctor to see if you need to take a supplement or make changes to your diet.
5. You May Be Eating Too Much Junk Food
If you’ve been eating a lot of junk food, you may start to crave healthier foods like pasta. Junk food is often high in sugar and fat, which can lead to cravings for more sugary and fatty foods. Eating too much junk food can also make you feel sluggish, so you may start to crave something that will give you more energy, like pasta.
Read here to learn more about foods that keep you full.
If you’re craving pasta, there’s no need to worry. There are a number of possible explanations, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong. Just try to listen to your body and see what it is that you’re really craving. Start using a food journal app so that you can track what’s really going on!
If you’re truly hungry, a serving of pasta can be a perfectly healthy option. But if you’re just looking for something to snack on, try to find a healthier alternative.