What Is Food Craving?

"Crave" means to want greatly and urgently. The meaning of food craving is an intense desire to consume a specific food. People with cravings for foods generally have uncontrollable urge for ice cream, chocolate, cake, potato chips and similar things. Almost everyone experiences food cravings.

A craving is a biochemical urge. It arises because the body has a need for it. The flavor, taste, aroma, texture, and temperature of foods may be responsible for food cravings. The cravings for som foods are linked to their ingredients.

  1. If you eat some sugary food, you feel the urge to consume more sugar, because the brain has become used to release happy hormones every time sugar is present. A sugar craving may be caused due to deficiency of protein or chromium, or it may be due to fluctuating blood sugar levels.
  2. The craving for chocolate is due to the present of amino acid phenylethylamine in chocolate, which is important for the regulation of the body's release of endorphins.
  3. The cause of craving of salt may be due to adrenal stress, muscular disorders, high blood pressure, and diabetic.
  4. The cravings for sour foods may be caused due to the body's requirement of acetic acid to help detoxify a chemical produced from decaying proteins.
  5. The reason of cravings may also be due to some food allergy or yeast problem.
  6. Women sometimes have food craving during pregnancy for strange foods like chocolate, pickles, tamarind, clay, ice, toothpaste, milk, fruit, hot chips, pizza, cheese, ice, dirt, sand, laundry powder, cigarette butts, etc. The extreme hormones oestrogen, progesterone and HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) levels during pregnancy can alter woman's sense of taste and smell including increased bitter and decreased salt sensitivity. This can also be attributed to the deficiency of certain nutrients that their body need during pregnancy period.

Food Craving Chart

If you crave for a food, it means your body may be deficient in something. What do food cravings mean to you. See the chart below.

If you crave forYou need
Sweets, Desserts Chromium, Carbon, Phosphorus, Sulfur, Tryptophan
Salty foodsChloride
Coffee or teaPhosphorous, Sulfur, salt (Sodium foods), Iron (Foods High In Iron)
Carbonated drinksCalcium (Calcium Foods)
AlcoholProtein (Foods High In Protein), Avenin, Calcium, Glutamine, Potassium
Bread, toastNitrogen
Oily snacks, Fried foodsCalcium
Chewing iceIron
Burned foodCarbon
Acidic foodsMagnesium
Pre-menstrual cravingsZinc
Pregnancy cravingsZinc
TobaccoSilicon, Tyrosine

How To Control Food Craving

  1. Many will suggest you that to control craving is to keep all tempting foods out of sight. But this is not the solution. It is just torturous, you want something and you are forced not to eat that thing. Go to the root of the problem.
  2. When a craving begins, determine how you want to deal with it. Treat cravings as suggestions to eat, but do not overeat. And before you eat wait for some time (at least 10 minutes) for cravings to pass. A craving is similar to an ocean wave, it grows in intensity, peaks, and then subsides. Do something different at the time of cravings. Make a phone call, or watch a comedy video or go for a brisk walk. In most cases the craving will pass over. You need not to give in. The more you practice, the easier it will be to overtake the cravings.
  3. If you can not overcome the craving, think how important it really is for you to eat the craved food. Eat slowly only a reasonable amount. The more you understand your cravings, the better you will be able to manage them. Exercise helps to manage food cravings.
  4. Keep a note of when you crave certain foods. Note the situations that make you crave. Make a list of these foods. If you can not stop eating these foods, the best thing you can do to yourself is to prepare these foods yourself in a healthy way. Keep these foods with you when you go out so that at the time of cravings you do not end up eating junk foods.
  5. Do you eat more when you are sad, stressed or alone? Food and mood are interrelated. Stressed people often eat more than relaxed people. Remove the causes of stress in your life. Find a new hobby like gardening, reading, knitting, listening to music, and similar things.
  6. Eat little but often will solve your problem of over-eating and cravings. Leave behind the philosophy that no foods should be eaten between meals. Develop a grazing habit.
  7. Do you have a habit of eating doing something such as while watching television, or in a shopping Mall? Do you always buy to munch something when you come home from office or go to a supermarket? Habits are formed very easily. If you drink coke after your meals or eat a piece of dessert after dinne everyday, soon it becomes your habit and you will crave for them. The worst thing about this habit is that you don't know how much quantity have you eaten. Next time when you eat some thing or buy something, ask yourself: "Is it necessary? Are you actually hungry?"
  8. Exercise and sleep are two ways to help overcome craving.

Recent research suggest that in obese people, addiction treatments could be useful in fighting food cravings.


  1. Ronzio, Robert A. (2003). Craving. The Encyclopedia of Nutrition and Good Health (2nd ed.), Facts on File. p. 176
  2. Carr, Tanya; Descheemaker, Koen. Food cravings and addictions - fact and fallacy, by Peter Rogers. Nutrition and Health - Current topics - 3 (Antwerp ed.). Garant. p. 69.
  3. Noll, Eric, Wendy, and Brundige. The Science of Food Cravings. ABC News Network, ABC News Network. //abcnews.go.com/GMA/Weekend/junk-food-addictive-illegal-drugs/story?id=9083548#.UX7ktxwunoA
  4. Musgrove, Rebekah, The Science Behind Food Cravings, Women's Health Magazine,
  5. Cassell, Dana K., Gleaves, David H., Craving, The encyclopedia of obesity and eating disorders, Library of health and living (3rd ed.), Infobase Publishing (2006).
  6. Levin Pelchat, Marcia, Food Addiction in Humans, The Journal of Nutrition 139 (3), 620-622 (March 2009)

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