Health Library







Categories > Diet and Nutrition > Healthy eating

Constant food cravings

“I could just die for a piece of chocolate cake.” Sound familiar? We’ve all experienced it—that almost incontrollable urge to eat a certain food. What causes cravings? And can you control them?

  • Your diet plays a role. Some experts believe that food cravings may be your body’s cry for certain nutrients. For example, craving chocolate may point to a lack of magnesium in your diet. Simply going without food can cause low blood sugar levels that can lead to cravings and hunger headaches.
    For appetite control, it’s better to eat foods that contain protein, fiber and even some fat, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • PMS. Women who suffer from premenstrual syndrome often report intense food cravings. Eating well is one of the best ways to fight cravings. Get plenty of complex carbohydrates. Researchers believe that complex carbs are necessary for the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects your moods. Good sources of complex carbs are whole-grain products, corn, potatoes and legumes. Vitamins A, E and B6 and the minerals zinc and magnesium may also help.
  • When you’re expecting. A yen for salty food during pregnancy may indicate your body’s need for sodium—a necessary element that supports your baby’s growth. Talk to your doctor about diet and vitamin supplements, especially folic acid and calcium supplements, before and during your pregnancy.

Take charge

Here are some other ways to control your cravings:

  • Don’t fight it. Sometimes it is better to indulge your cravings sensibly rather than fight them. Have a small portion of the food you crave, like a bite-sized piece of chocolate.
  • Try to substitute low-fat alternatives. Instead of eating calorie-laden ice cream, try nonfat frozen yogurt instead.
  • Drink some water. Sometimes a food craving is just a signal that your body is craving H2O.
  • Avoid emotional eating. If you’re really not hungry, yet still craving food, the cause of your cravings could be stress, anger or boredom. If so, try to distract yourself with physical or mental activity.