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What is the psychology behind food cravings?

Posted by Momma Risko

I am aware that the foods you are familiar with, like what you ate a lot as a kid, is normally your comfort food as an adult. Once every few months, I get the strongest, most uncontrolable cravings for chocolate and pop. When I do, I try to stick with small amounts of dark chocolate and one can of pepsi. But I've been wondering if there is someway you can mentally train yourself to diminish these cravings. Or what if it's not a psychological craving? What if it's my body trying to tell me it's low on energy and it just wants a quick fix? How do I differenciate between the two?
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You have already taken the first psychological step to conquering your cravings, which is being aware that there is something uncomfortable happening.  Most people would just reach for candy or a soda, and think, "Oh, that's how you fix that."  Unfortunately, one craving soon leads to another and another, as the body is always looking for satisfaction.

Have you ever noticed that you can eat a big meal and still feel unsatisfied, like there's something missing?  That' s because your body is always craving something sweet, salty or fatty.  These are the three biggest cravings.  Often, it can seem like the body is constantly pulling the mind toward one of those 3.  If you get too much fat in your meal, but not enough sweet, then you're going to want dessert. It's the body looking for balance,which of course, affects the mind. 

I don't think that you can train your mind without adressing the imbalances in your diet first.  Once you get the sweet/salt/fat overdoses eliminated from your daily routine, then the body comes into its own natural balance.  Everything starts to feel more harmonious and it is easier to adjust your thoughts about food.

It's all about achieving balance physically and mentally.  Whole food health drinks are an easy tool to use to help the body maintain balance.  As for your mind, by remaining clearly focused on how you feel and how you really want to feel, you are well on the way to conquering your cravings.


Did you know that many women crave chocolate around the time of their menstrual period? Researchers aren't sure exactly why. It could be that your body needs the iron, magnesium and flavonoids in the chocolate. Or the mood lifting effect.

At least one study has shown that cocoa powder in a capsule doesn't work. It's the dark chocolate piece with its fat that works best. So some of this may be physical and some psychological.

A craving for pop is harder to explain. It may be the effervescence is refreshing on a hot day or your blood sugar is low after a workout so you need the extra energy. Pepsi has 28 grams of sugars. Or, you could just be thirsty and pop is a habit for when you are thirsty.

I used to crave Diet Coke. It would take about 3 days for the craving to go away after I had one can. Cravings can also mean you have a food sensitivity to the item.  My conclusion was that I needed to stay away from the diet sodas. They don't have any nutritional value.

So my take on cravings is: it's your body trying to tell you something. When I get a craving for chocolate I eat it -- dark chocolate and  in small amounts. But when I get a craving for something that is not so good for me, like the diet soda, I try to find a healthier substitute. 

I don't ignore my body's signals. I close my eyes and focus on the feeling. I ask my body what it is needing. Sometimes nothing comes to mind so I ask questions like "Am I thirsty?" "Am I tired?" "Am I low on some nutrient?" "What nutrient does that have that I might need?"

After a few minutes, I get an "aha." Sometimes I do an online search for the nutrition facts on the food I'm craving. Craig is right that it often comes down to fat, sugar or salt. Don't try to ignore your cravings. Try to find a better substitute if you can. Otherwise, go ahead and indulge once in a while. You won't feel deprived. You will feel in control of your eating.

Hope this helps!



Great question!  As a Clinical Nutritionist I have observed over and over again that cravings are due to a nutritional deficiency or a biochemical imbalance in your body.  That could be in regards to sugar metabolism or adrenal fatigue, vitamin and mineral deficiency or even an infection that is driving those cravings and imbalances.  The best way to find out the underlying reason for cravings is to do some simple and effective Functional Lab Testing.  I do this testing in my practice to get to the root cause of someones symtom.

 Unfortunatley the pepsi you are consuming will only make these deficiencies worse.  Soda drains our body of essential vitamin and minerals in addition to stressing our adrenals and liver with the high fructose corn syrup. As for chocolate - if you eat RAW ORGANIC DARK chocolate, that is ok every now and then.  Yes, it does have magnesium in it in addition to complex antioxidants.

 If you would like to learn more about all of this, please contact me at

be well & thrive!



NOTICE: The information provided on this site is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on Wellsphere. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.
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