• Remana Jamal

Why We Crave Food?

Food craving is when a person urgently desires a certain food more frequently; those cravings are usually for junk foods, sweets, and processed foods. People who crave foods end up being overweight or having an eating disorder; this’s because eating too much unhealthy foods makes them feel guilty and out of control.


· Hormones

Hormonal imbalance such as leptin (stops hunger) and serotonin (the happy hormone) can increase food cravings. Pregnant women can also get food cravings due to hormonal changes during pregnancy.

· Stress

Harvard studies showed that stressed women are more likely to have elevated appetite and food cravings. When people are under stress their bodies produce cortisol, which can then increase food cravings.

· Low water intake

Dehydration can sometimes be mistaken for hunger. Our bodies sometimes can’t tell the difference between thirst and hunger, which causes you to crave more foods, where the truth is you just need to drink more water. Drink between 2 to 3 liters of water every day.

· Lack of sleep

Not getting enough sleep can increase food cravings because the body is lacking energy, and the quickest way to boost that energy is by eating large amounts of sweets and junk foods. A study found a link between lack of sleep and low leptin and high ghrelin (the hunger hormone). Getting enough sleep reduces high-dense food cravings.

· Low protein intake

Eating enough protein can reduce food cravings by up to 60%. Protein can balance blood sugar, which reduces sugar cravings. Make sure you eat 0.8g/kg of protein daily.

· Physical inactivity

Physical inactivity can increase sugar cravings, and only 5 minutes walk before lunch can reduce food cravings. Try walking at least 30 minutes every day. You can satisfy your food cravings by eating regular and nutritious meals. When you crave sugary foods you can try eating dark chocolate, honey or maple syrup (instead of sugar), eat more protein, more fiber, and healthy fats. You can try some meditation and yoga for stress relief, and engage in a fun physical activity. Sources: Harvard Health. (2019). Why stress causes people to overeat - Harvard Health.

Taheri, S., Lin, L., Austin, D., Young, T. and Mignot, E. (2004). Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index. PLoS Medicine, 1(3), p.e62.

Markwald, R., Melanson, E., Smith, M., Higgins, J., Perreault, L., Eckel, R. and Wright, K. (2013). Impact of insufficient sleep on total daily energy expenditure, food intake, and weight gain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(14), pp.5695-5700.

Chao, A., Grilo, C. and Sinha, R. (2016). Food cravings, binge eating, and eating disorder psychopathology: Exploring the moderating roles of gender and race. Eating Behaviors, 21, pp.41-47.

Myers, C., Martin, C. and Apolzan, J. (2018). Food cravings and body weight. Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity, 25(5), pp.298-302.

Dr. Axe. (2019). How to Kick Your Sugar Addiction (& Healthy Sugar Alternatives) - Dr. Axe. Johnson, J. and Natalie Butler, L. (2019). Food cravings: Causes, reducing and replacing cravings.

Healthline. (2019). Do Nutrient Deficiencies Cause Cravings?.

Leidy, H., Tang, M., Armstrong, C., Martin, C. and Campbell, W. (2010). The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men. Obesity, 19(4), pp.818-824.

Hoertel, H., Will, M. and Leidy, H. (2014). A randomized crossover, pilot study examining the effects of a normal protein vs. high protein breakfast on food cravings and reward signals in overweight/obese “breakfast skipping”, late-adolescent girls. Nutrition Journal, 13(1).

Myers, C., Martin, C. and Apolzan, J. (2018). Food cravings and body weight. Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes and Obesity, 25(5), pp.298-302.

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