When You've Got to Have It

By Chipley, Abigail | Vegetarian Times, March 2002 | Go to article overview

When You've Got to Have It


Chipley, Abigail, Vegetarian Times


Twelve simple steps to controlling your cravings

It's the rare person who doesn't experience food cravings on a regular basis. Kelly Kochendorfer, a former chef and Internet consultant, admits to a yen for candy, which she satisfies nightly around 4 a.m. Lisa Kim, a nonprofit fundraiser, claims that the mere smell of french fries can make her "totally lose control." She also lusts after her mother's spicy tofu stew and kimchi, a staple Korean dish with pickled cabbage. And Elizabeth Carlson's main weakness is chocolate, though this magazine editor also has been known to walk blocks for her favorite potato chips.

While most of us experience food cravings, no one really knows what causes them. Nutritionists have been trying to find an explanation for years. One theory, largely discounted by researchers, is that cravings are your body's way of telling you that you're deficient in a certain nutrient. "People would like to believe this because then they feel justified in eating their favorite foods," says Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist with the Philadelphia-based Monell Chemical Senses Center, a nonprofit research institute devoted to the study of nutrition and the senses. "But in study after study, people go for what they like, not what they need," she says. And what they like is usually what they're already getting plenty of Very few Americans are salt-deficient, yet so many of us have a predilection for mixed nuts and potato chips. As for sugar, nobody can claim a nutritional deficiency caused by a lack of glazed donuts.

Not only do cravings have little to do with nutrition, they also rarely have much to do with hunger. The fact is that when you're truly hungry, any number of foods will satisfy you. But a craving can only be satisfied by one particular food. Regardless of whether the foods you crave are salty, savory or sweet, what they have in common is that they're all high in fat and loaded with calories.

"Prehistoric peoples sought out high-- density, high-fat foods like meat as a matter of survival," says Adam Drewnowki, Ph.D., director of the Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington in Seattle. Meat and other high-fat foods cause the body to release endorphins, hormones that ease pain and anxiety and produce a feeling of pleasure. Of course, these days we could do without the extra calories, but unfortunately our brains seem hardwired to seek them out.

There is an explanation for why people specifically crave sweets, according to Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of Food and Mood (Henry Holt, 1999). Eating simple carbs like sugar and white bread stimulates an immediate rush of serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps improve your mood and calm you down. She believes that people who suffer from an imbalance in serotonin learn to reach for a donut or candy bar to allay their bad mood or relieve nervous tension.

Amidst all the controversy, one thing is for certain: Cravings can be powerful, even impossible to resist. That goes double for women. In a study of college students, Pelchat found that 100 percent of women experienced cravings, whereas only 70 percent of their male classmates had hankerings for specific foods. What's more, men and women have predilections toward different foods. Women crave chocolate and other sweets more often than men, who usually lust after savory foods like cheesy pizza and chips.

The differences between men's and women's cravings remain somewhat of a mystery, however, despite having been studied extensively. One theory is that women are more likely to experience cravings because their hormones fluctuate, specifically during their menstrual cycles when serotonin levels drop. And pregnancy notoriously causes strange food cravings. "Pregnancy may be the one exception during which you should pay attention to your instincts," says Susan Calvert Finn, Ph.D., R.D., author of Women's Nutrition for Healthy Living (Perigree, 1997). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

When You've Got to Have It
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.