Food cravings are very common, particularly in Winter. Whether it is a craving for specific food types, like chocolate, foods high in sugar or carbohydrates, cravings seem to constantly get in the way when it comes to staying on track with exercise, nutrition and weight loss.
There seems to be a connection between food and mood and a frequently proposed theory is that a lot of people eat (carbohydrates) to elevate mood. This occurs through increases in a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin. Serotonin is known to have a positive effect on mood.
Chocolate is the food most typically associated with reports of food cravings. Chocolate cravings are endorsed by 40% of women and 15% of men and although many chocolate cravers report and overall preference for sweet foods, most report that other foods will not suffice to satisfy a craving for chocolate. While all food promotes a reward response in the brain in a negative energy balance as a means of encouraging eating, high sugary foods have been shown to elicit larger amounts of pleasure and reward neurotransmitter dopamine which plays a role in habit formation.
A blood sugar dip due to many hours between eating or in response to high simple carbohydrate intake can make your body scream for something sugary! Emotions can also cause a sense of ‘need’ for non-nutritious foods.