Good nutrition is an investment for a healthier tomorrow.

Why am I having food cravings??

on May 15, 2014

The Secret behind the Food Cravings

At some point or another, most of us experience a craving for a particular food. It is not the feeling of hunger but a strong desire to have a particular food. (Many a times this craving is for an unhealthy food.). This is also different from addiction. Most of the people have a craving for chocolates (esp. women), salty food, sweets (how many of you say that I need to have something sweet after my meals?)or fried items. There could be some unusual cravings like some of the pregnant women experience. The craving does not go even after we have that food. So, how to satisfy this longing?? To know the answer, we need to first understand that the reasons for the cravings.

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Why is this craving??

It’s all in the brain…

The craving is usually a signal that the body sends to make one realise that there is an urgent need of some nutrients. It is our body’s way to say that you need this nutrient. Get it now. Our body tries to find them in the food. This nutrient can be found in natural food as well as processed food. Interestingly, the brain area which is responsible for sensing pleasure becomes more prominent. This is the reason our body craves for that food or chooses that food which is giving more pleasure rather than the food packed with nutrients.

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Psychological Story…

Cravings also have a psychological angle to it. They often have something to do with emotions. Research says that food cravings arise to satisfy emotional needs, such as calming stress and reducing anxiety. This is the reason, most of us experience cravings when we are stressed out or depressed. During this period, body’s serotonin levels drops down. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the regulation of mood, appetite, memory & sleep.

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It’s all in the genes…

It is undisputed that our genes play a vital part in our behaviour, metabolism, physical characters etc. These genes are a gift from our ancestors. Sometimes, our bodies might be programmed to crave food high in calories. Also, several studies have suggested that eating a diet lacking in variety can lead to more food cravings.

So, it is clear that food craving is nothing but a signal/message which is misinterpreted or misunderstood by the body due to confusions created by brain.


What is the actual message??

Science has now understood these signs that codes for the needed nutrient. Certain less healthy or less nutritious food item do contain the needed nutrient in small amounts but they give more pleasure so our brain remembers them better. But as these food items contain the needed nutrient in very less amount, eating these foods gives us a temporary relief. But it is best treated by eating natural food as they have a superior nutrient absorption & contains nutrients in abundance. Following table will give an idea about different food cravings, needed nutrient & the best natural sources…

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Food Craving Nutrient Needed Function of the nutrient Other food sources
Chocolate Magnesium Needed for almost 300 biochemical reactions mainly for muscle relaxation, nerve & muscle action, cell metabolism, enzyme activation. Almonds, cashew nuts, walnuts, garden cress seeds, legumes, pulses, fruits like peach, ripe mango, potato.
Sugary food, sweets Chromium To regulate blood sugar levels Dairy products, broccoli, ginger, nutmeg, meat products, eggs.(chromium content of the food depends upon the soil content of chromium. A balanced diet low in simple sugars & processed food should be included.
Carbon One of the elements from which sugar is made Fresh fruits, whole grains.
Phosphorus Helps the body produce energy, in metabolic function, bone/teeth & nucleic acid formation. Bajra, maize, rice bran, pulses, carrots, nuts
Sulphur Helps to remove toxins Cruciferous vegetables
Tryptophan Regulation of serotonin Spinach, raisins, sweet potato
Refined carbs like bread, pasta Nitrogen Biosynthesis of nucleic acid & proteins. Protein rich food like milk, curd, eggs, fish, chicken, sprouts.
Oily & fatty food Calcium Bone & teeth health, blood clotting, nerve transmission, muscle contraction. Milk & milk products esp. skimmed milk powder, ragi, poppy seeds
Ice Iron Synthesis of blood, acts as an enzyme cofactor. Garden cress, rice flakes, raisins, black currants, watermelon,
Salty food Chloride To maintain acid-base balance, osmotic pressure, HCl in stomach Fish, drumsticks, lotus stem, musk melon.

Learn what your body actually needs, give exactly the same it needs & your body will not crave for wrong food. However, not choosing a pleasurable food over a healthy food requires a self control. In my next article, we will read more on how to manage the food cravings. Till then, be healthy & be happy….


2 responses to “Why am I having food cravings??

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great article.


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