Hunger and cravings are different: Hunger is the need for fuel, while cravings are an intense desire for a specific food — with or without hunger. It is essential to your health that cravings not shape your daily eating habits.
Learning strategies for handling cravings is essential. So let’s break this down into why you have cravings and what to do about them.
Hunger: Whenever you feel like eating, pause to ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” You can be hungry and crave a specific food to satisfy that hunger. Being overly hungry makes it harder to think rationally and to eat mindfully.
Stress: People commonly crave foods like chocolate, cookies, chips, and other high-fat foods because they stimulate the reward center of your brain. These foods cause your brain to release endorphins, which make you feel good.
Associations and memories: Pairing certain foods with certain places, events, or people creates a link in the brain. In the future, similar circumstances—can trigger a craving for that particular food.
Deprivation: As you resist “forbidden” foods, the cravings may increase, eventually leading to eating, and then overeating, those foods.