Cravings and urges result from the desire to regain the state of mind and body that you had when you were overeating. They are caused by associations you have with everyday internal and external cues.
People who overeat and are overweight have learned to associate the
use of food with various stimuli, which would otherwise be neutral
(e.g., certain times of the day, certain places, certain people,
certain events, certain of their own thoughts, etc.). Their response to
these stimuli has become conditioned and cravings and urges are the
Cravings and urges are most likely to occur when you:
Feel the need to enhance an experience — Cravings and urges occur to make an experience like socializing or sex more enjoyable, more pleasurable, more spontaneous.
Have unpleasant feelings and thoughts — Cravings
and urges arise as a person's way of helping her avoid or deal with
unpleasant feelings and thoughts, including bad moods, worrisome
thoughts, un-defined anxieties. Instead of tackling these dysphoric
states directly, the person has a desire to "medicate" the state through
the use of food.
Experience physical "withdrawal" symptoms because you are not overeating
— People who have been dependent on overeating can experience
internal physical discomfort that withdrawal from overeating brings on.
Cravings and urges can be a response to these withdrawal symptoms.
Unsuccessful resolution of the issues that cause cravings and urges
can easily lead to dieting slips and lapses. Unsuccessful resolution can
also lead to relapse, which is the return to old ways of overeating and