If you have ever tried to satisfy a craving for chocolate by eating an apple, you know it is a bit like trying to drown out a thunderstorm by farting – it’s never going to happen. The hankerings we get for specific foods may seem strange, but they may reveal much more about ourselves than we realise.
Science has proven that comfort eating, or binge eating, is a real phenomenon. It is most commonly linked to repressing emotions by doing something that brings a sense of contentment. In fact, experts such as Dr Deanna Minich suggested that the specific food types we crave are linked to specific emotions. Let’s take a closer look.
Known affectionately as the food of the gods, chocolate is a number one offender when it comes to cravings. Considering that it contains a compound that causes the brain to release the same chemicals it does when we are in love, it is no wonder.
A seemingly insatiable desire for it may be a sign that you feel you are not giving or receiving enough love. Instead of satisfying it by gobbling down a slab, try to bring some love into your or someone else’s life. Who knows, maybe giving someone else chocolates to show YOU care is the ultimate reverse psychology!
What sets off a coffee craving? The aroma of a pot of freshly-brewed? The remembrance of its rich, earthy taste? Mental exhaustion, more like it.
Caffeine is a stimulant on both body and mind, and the buzz it creates can help us feel super-charged and ready to take on the world. The reality is those feelings are more an illusion than anything else, and the inevitable crash that follows usually ends up leaving us feeling even more tired. A powernap is a perfect alternative for a quick pick-me-up, but the best remedy for exhaustion is simply ensuring you get enough sleep each night.
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Ice cream cravings are no respecters of season, and can hit even in the middle of winter. Dr Minich thinks that is popular association with carefree childhood summers has something to do with it.
According to her, those feelings of freedom and innocence it inspires are the main reason so many of us want to eat as much of it as we possibly can when we are feeling hurt. Minich suggests finding other ways to feel a sense of freedom and ease, such as enjoying a long soak in a hot bath, or going for a bike ride. I’m not convinced though, ice cream still sounds like a cure all to me!
Sweet Baked Goods
Whether cake, cookie, pastry, or pie, if it comes out of an oven, you know it is going to be good. That moment of bliss when you first bite through warm, crispy pastry before the sweet shock of a delectable filling is the stuff of which cravings are made.
In this case, craving sweet baked goods is usually linked to feeling that your life is lacking in joy. It has all become humdrum, predictable, and boring, if not soul-destroying.
Unfortunately, the old adage that, while pastry spends but a moment on the lips, it spends a lot more time on your hips, is more or less true. Rather than weighing down your future self, you could find other ways to rediscover joy in your life, such as reading a good novel, learning a new craft, or taking a walk in the park.
Salt is vitally important for the proper functioning of the body, so craving it could be a sign of being in need of nourishment, or a sign of illness. However, its effect on our bodies’ water levels also indicates that craving it may be a result of stress.
Rather than stuffing your face with a pile of salty food, find ways to chill out. Meditation, crossword puzzles, and arts and crafts are just some things you can try, or you may just find that a bowl of ice cream works wonders too!