Food cravings: mental and physical reasons why you crave certain foods

Food cravings: mental and physical reasons why you crave certain foods

Ever felt like you JUST NEED that chocolate bar? You're not alone. Here’s a list of the most common causes that are usually behind cravings. 

Food cravings are very common. The specific food desired varies from person to person and it can be caused by several factors, which can usually be split into two main categories: physical and mental. Keep on reading to find out the most common causes of food cravings.

Physical causes

Cravings can be caused by different hormonal imbalaces

Leptin and ghrelin imbalances. An imbalance in these hunger and fullness hormones may cause certain people to experience more food cravings than others.

Pregnancy. Hormonal changes in pregnancy may influence smell and taste receptors, this may lead to experiencing more intensified cravings.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The changes in the hormones estrogen and progesterone that occur right before your period may intensify cravings, especially for carb-rich foods.

Food cravings may mean many things

Lack of sleep. Sleeping too little or having a poor quality sleep can disturb your levels of the hormones responsible for regulating hunger, fullness, and sleep-wake cycles, this may cause intensifying food cravings, especially in the evenings.

A nutrient-poor diet. Nutrients like protein and fiber help you feel full. If your diet doesn’t have much of them, this may cause you to feel hungry or experience cravings, even if you have otherwise eaten enough calories.

Learn what causes your cravings

Poor hydration. Not drinking enough fluids can intensify feelings of hunger or cravings in some people.

Your gut flora. There is some evidence that the type of bacteria present in your gut may influence the frequency and type of cravings you may have.

Mental causes

Cravings can also be caused by mental factors

Stress. Stress increases levels of the hormone cortisol. High cortisol levels may be linked to hunger, cravings, and a higher likelihood of stress- or binge-eating behaviors.

Your personality. There’s some evidence that suggests that people who are more impulsive may experience food cravings.

Eating context. Your brain can associate eating a specific food to a specific context. For example, if you ate a bar of chocolate when you were having a great time with your partner, this may cause you to crave that particular food the next time the same context comes around or when you want to feel the same way.

Your mood. Certain moods may trigger cravings for specific foods. As when you are down and look for comfort foods, usually carbs.

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