Humans crave food for a number of reasons. Obviously, the most natural reason you may want to eat is because you have a true need. In other words, you may actually be hungry. Your body may be giving you signals telling you it is lacking in certain healthy minerals, nutrients and vitamins.
However, there are false hunger signals that you receive as well.
Emotional eating is a common contributor to poor health. This unhealthy food craving can be triggered by positive emotions as well as negative ones. You might be familiar with someone who eats sweet, fattening, unhealthy processed foods when they are depressed, lonely, feeling helpless or experiencing some other negative emotion.
Positive emotions like joy can also lead to false hunger signals that make you crave unhealthy food. How many times have you celebrated a big job promotion, the birth of a new family member or some other joyful life event with cake, ice cream, pizza and a night out on the town? This emotional eating, for positive and negative reasons, can lead to food cravings.
You may also crave food simply out of habit. Every day at the same time you might take a mid-afternoon break for a sweet, decadent, sugar-filled, unhealthy treat. Do this enough days in a row and you can crave food that same time of the day just because you have developed an unhealthy habit to do so.
Boredom can lead to unhealthy eating habits as well. Have you ever found yourself peering into your refrigerator looking for something to eat, even when you were not hungry? You can’t get a hold of your friends, there is nothing on television, you have already checked your email and Facebook several times, and you are bored out of your mind. This is a great time to exercise instead of eating unnecessarily.
Another reason for food cravings is a poor diet. When you eat junk food, a lot of processed foods and fast food, you do not regularly give your body all of the wonderful nutrients, minerals and vitamins needs to function properly. All of the complex systems in your body noticed this, and they send a signal to your brain. The brain tells you to eat, in an effort to make up for your poor diet. The problem is, if you are used to eating nutritionally-poor food, that is the first thing reach for when you are hungry.