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The Science of Food Cravings: Understanding the Physiology and Psychology Behind Our Desire for Certain Foods, and Strategies for Overcoming Them

Food cravings are intense desires for specific foods, often high in sugar, salt, and fat. They are a common experience, and research suggests that around 97% of women and 68% of men report experiencing food cravings. While some food cravings may be related to nutrient deficiencies or hunger, others may be driven by emotional or psychological factors.

Food craving

Food cravings are a common experience that can have both physiological and psychological roots. Therefore, understanding the science behind food cravings is crucial for individuals who want to make healthier food choices and maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. Moreover, in this article, we will explore the physiology and psychology of food cravings, and provide strategies for overcoming them.

I. The Physiology of Food Cravings

A. Neurotransmitters and hormones involved in food cravings
  1. Dopamine, serotonin, and ghrelin
  2. The role of brain regions such as the insula and prefrontal cortex in regulating food cravings B. How nutrient deficiencies and imbalances may contribute to food cravings
  3. The link between iron deficiency and cravings for red meat
  4. The link between magnesium deficiency and cravings for chocolate
The science of food craving-foodchess.com
Functions: Serotonin vs Dopamine

II. The Psychology of Food Cravings

A. How emotions and stress can trigger food cravings
  1. Stress as a trigger for cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods
  2. The link between negative emotions such as sadness or loneliness and cravings for comfort foods
B. Learned associations between certain foods and specific emotions or situations
  1. How cultural and social factors can influence food cravings
  2. How advertising can shape food preferences and cravings
The science of food craving-foodchess.com
Where do food craving come from?

III. Strategies for Overcoming Food Cravings

A. Mindful eating techniques
  1. Paying attention to hunger and fullness cues
  2. Savoring the taste and texture of food B. Distraction techniques
  3. Engaging in physical activity or practicing a hobby
  4. Using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation C. Planning meals and snacks in advance to prevent impulse eating
  5. Setting regular meal and snack times
  6. Keeping healthy snacks on hand D. Identifying and managing triggers
  7. Managing stress through exercise or other stress-reduction techniques
  8. Seeking support from friends or a mental health professional when necessary


Food cravings can be a challenge to overcome, but understanding the physiology and psychology behind them and implementing strategies for managing them can help individuals make healthier food choices and maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. By paying attention to our bodies and our emotions, we can learn to overcome cravings and make healthy choices that support our overall health and well-being.

  1. “The Science of Cravings” by Nicole Avena, Ph.D. in Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/food-junkie/201307/the-science-cravings)
  2. “Food cravings: The impact of food craving and its role in obesity and eating disorders” by Pleh C, Tam CS, and Argyiou E. in Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity (https://journals.lww.com/co-endocrinology/Abstract/2020/10000/Food_cravings__The_impact_of_food_craving_and_its.8.aspx)
  3. “Nutrition and Food Cravings” by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (https://www.eatright.org/health/weight-loss/tips-for-weight-loss/nutrition-and-food-cravings)
  4. “Mindful Eating 101: A Beginner’s Guide” by Healthline (https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mindful-eating-guide)
  5. “Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response” by Harvard Health Publishing (https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response)
  6. “Support and Treatment for Eating Disorders” by National Eating Disorders Association (https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support)
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