Where Do Food Cravings Actually Come From?

Where Do Food Cravings Actually Come From?

We’ve all experienced a truly intense food craving. Whether it be a meal from a local restaurant that you can’t stop thinking about, a childhood snack that still tastes just as good years later, or a particular fast food item that you find yourself returning to again and again. Cravings can come out of nowhere and for a variety of reasons. People can even crave foods that they normally despise all of a sudden. These mysterious food desires are often treated as a bad thing; an indulgence that is often looked down upon. But food cravings are not inherently bad or good. What they are, is simply an extension of both your physical and mental health. Whether it’s a warm slice of pizza or a sweet and juicy orange that you can’t stop craving, there is probably a reason for that craving. Let’s explore those reasons and take a closer look at where do food cravings actually come from.

Food Cravings Can Originate For Physical Reasons

While food cravings are often thought to be voluntary, and as more of a desire than something someone needs, there is evidence that food cravings can be completely involuntary, and biological in origin.

One of the most recognizable of these physical origins for food cravings is seen during pregnancy. Pregnancy cravings are completely physical in origin and are caused by a shift in hormone levels. Other hormone-induced cravings are often seen during PMS where evidence has shown cravings for carb-rich foods are common.

There are many other fascinating physical reasons for cravings. Among them are lack of hydration, lack of physical activity, and sleep deprivation.

Another physical cause of cravings is an imbalance of Leptin and Ghrelin, the hormones that regulate hunger and fullness. An imbalance in these hormones can leave a person feeling constantly hungry and unable to satisfy their cravings for food and drink.

Many Food Cravings Have Mental Origins

On the other hand, some food cravings are purely inspired by activity in the brain.

These mental origins tend to all be linked to the brain’s pleasure centers. Scientists haven’t quite figured out exactly why certain foods trigger the brain’s dopamine and endorphin response, but it has been shown in many studies that food, particularly foods high in sugar, prompts our brains to release pleasure chemicals. These chemicals feel good and create an association between food and pleasure, which is why humans crave them.

One other interesting reason that cravings originate in the brain is the context of eating. Certain situations are often accompanied by food, which is why we can crave that food in those situations. One example of this is eating popcorn while watching a movie. When it comes time to watch a movie many people start craving popcorn simply because they are in that context. Another is personal habits. If a person stops at a fast-food restaurant every day on their way home from work and picks up a soda, after only a few weeks they will start craving that soda when they leave work, whether they intend to go get it or not.

While the food you crave might not always be the healthiest, it is important to examine your food cravings, cut out any unnecessary ones, and indulge the ones you have on occasion. If there is no guilt associated with the food, indulging in a food craving on occasion can be great for boosting mood and overall psychological health.


Thankfully, O’Brien’s Bistro has a menu full of delicious dishes to satisfy your cravings. From fresh delicious seafood to indulgent steaks and pasta dishes, O’Brien’s dishes will hit the spot. Next time you get a craving be sure to stop in and join us for a delicious dinner, lunch, or even Sunday brunch. Call or make a reservation online soon, we can’t wait to serve you.