The Science Behind Your Cravings (and how to beat them)

The Science Behind Your Cravings (and how to beat them)


Cravings. We all have them. Whether it be chocolate, crisps, that tub of ice cream sitting in my freezer. Everyone has their weaknesses when it comes to food – it's human nature. Why? Well, science says that a lot of our food choices comes down to mental habits. Habit formation governs between 40-45% of our daily lives and mainly comes down to us associating specific actions with certain feelings.

Let's think about that tub of ice cream in my freezer for a minute. Say I have had a bad day and I eat the whole tub. Long term I'm probably not going to feel great about it, but the immediate emotion is happiness. I now subconsciously begin to associate ice cream with happiness. Relatable, right? 

So, what happens when I'm a whole tub down? I then feel sad because I feel guilty for eating the ice cream. What does my brain think it needs when I'm sad? You guessed it – ice cream. This results in a cycle that is hard to break out from. Whether it is good or bad, a habit comes from your brain taking choice away from you. Cravings are a lot stronger than the part of the brain that fights against them, and so the chances are I'm going to be going for that spoon again. Once the mental image of the ice cream is in my head, science has shown it's going to be difficult for my mind to think about anything else. 

Luckily there are some ways that you can beat your cravings. 


A good night's sleep really can solve everything! According to the University of Arizona, there is a link between how much sleep you get and how often you crave certain foods, and when you lack in sleep this is severely disrupted, which can result in strong cravings. Any excuse for an early night, right? 

Start your day right

After getting a good night's sleep, it is essential that you then start your day off right with a high protein breakfast. According to recent studies, eating breakfast that is rich in protein can help to reduce the brain signals that control the reward-driven behaviour. It looks like protein pancakes really are the way forward.

Meal Prep

You've probably heard it all before but meal prepping not only saves time and money, it can also help save you from falling victim to cravings. If your dinner is ready and waiting for you when you get home, you're less likely to find yourself tempted by unhealthy, convenience foods. By eliminating the uncertainty of your next meal, you're also helping to reduce your cravings.

Check out Krissy Cela's top meal prep tips for more inspo!

Treat yourself

Perhaps most importantly, remember that food is not the enemy. If you're craving a bar of chocolate, you don't always have to fight it. Let yourself enjoy food and satisfy your cravings – your body and mind will thank you for it. 

Doughnuts or Pancakes? Let us know your fave in the comments below. 


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