It never fails. You’re two weeks into your new healthy eating diet, determined to lose some pounds and get ready for beach season. You did your meal planning. You stocked up three to five days’ worth of chicken breast, salad, and quinoa for lunch. Then hump day rolls around in your busy work week, and what rears its ugly head? CRAVINGS.
And you’re not craving that apple in your lunch bag. You’re craving a red velvet cupcake. With a pile of sweet cream cheese frosting, and (gasp!) chocolate sprinkles, this delicious, decadent, mouth-watering dessert will set you back 300-400 calories and cramp all your healthy eating progress this week. Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
In a study published in the journal Appetite, 97 percent of women and 68 percent of men who participated reported experiencing cravings. Cravings are motivational states that give us the urge to seek out and consume a particular food, and generally that food is not broccoli.
Professor Susan Roberts, director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts, has researched the kinds of foods that people crave most often. Not surprisingly, the most commonly craved foods tended to be salty snacks, sweets with high sugar and fat content, and all high in calories.
Though the exact cause of food cravings is difficult to pinpoint, many doctors and nutritionists alike believe that they develop as a result of a complex medley of biochemical processes and a variety of hormonal and emotional factors. Cravings can be strong and persuasive, and when we give in to them, they can leave us feeling like we failed at our diet, not to mention with a sugar crash.