Ever feel like the donuts in your office lunch area are calling your name, even though they are 100 feet away? No doubt there are certain foods that you crave. Times of day, times of the month, or just based on your nutritional deficiencies, there are foods that you want — and that you want now. Don’t worry. You are probably not obsessed. There are many reasons why people crave food–most commonly, junk food. Here’s why:
1. Raging Hormones
Any woman knows that her period is coming when she can’t keep her hands out of the cookie jar, and gets more exercise opening the fridge than from a trip to the gym. Hormones, especially fluctuating ones, will cause cravings to go into overdrive. That’s probably the reason why women seem to have many more cravings than men, and seem to “need” to satisfy them more than men do. Ever spent a few months with a pregnant woman? Maybe she’s not eating pickles dipped in ice cream, but when she wants potato chips, she wants them now! Chart your cycle and keep cut up veggies and fresh fruit in the fridge for those crave-tastic days.
A long day at work typically makes you tired. It also makes the 3 o’clock munchies roll in. And when they hit, the most common craving is for something sweet. Sugary coffee drinks, candy and vending machine binges alike, workplace snacking is commonplace for good reason. Sugar provides a quick burst of energy, which is what your body really craves. Try limiting your caffeine intake in the morning so you can indulge in a cup of joe in the afternoon. Or, trade it out for green tea for a little caffeine and some antioxidants. Go easy on the sweet stuff though — you’ll probably find that the caffeine alone will do the trick.
3. Emotional Swings
You might crave certain foods to cure emotional issues like stress, sadness, depression, or just feeling a little under the weather. People tend to lean toward foods that provide comfort, which generally contain grease, fat, sugar or just tons of calories. You might also be inclined to eat junk food during happy times and social events. Certain foods become synonymous with comfort and happiness, triggering those cravings when you are looking to be in that mood. Try going for a walk somewhere that you enjoy, or calling a friend instead of indulging. Even a few minutes searching the web for your next vacation, looking at photos or emailing an old friend can help!
These emotional feelings may also be causing you to crave like crazy when you are dieting as well. Long-term healthy eaters may not feel this way, but intense, short-term diets characterized by quick weight loss cause people to feel deprived and to have a serious desire to satisfy it. Try transitioning to a balanced, healthy diet to avoid those swings.
4. Nutritional Deficiencies
Although there is little scientific evidence to back it, many people attribute cravings to nutritional deficiency. The theory is that if you are low on calcium, you’ll crave ice cream. If you’re anemic, you’ll crave meat. This theory is unfounded, though, so don’t stress if you have a hankering for a steak!
Other psychological happenings could explain cravings–smelling cookies baking, seeing a commercial for cheeseburgers, etc.–so try to combat them by satisfying them in more productive ways.