Season 11 Episode 1

Diving into food cravings; what are they and how do you beat ’em? 

Today we uncover the science behind food cravings. We chat about the whats and the whys when it comes to craving certain foods over others. With an abundance of facts and studies from Ebbers, we discuss how we might be able to overcome the burning desire to scoff our faces with the foods we crave. And let’s be honest, we’ve all routed around our bins for a snack once or twice right? Or is that just Mike? Comment below and let us know how you beat your food cravings!


 Best soundbite“I’m just hungry and the way to fix that is to eat a sandwich.” – Jamie Spafford

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Something to make you think...

Cravings last between 3 – 5 minutes. If you can master being strong and distract yourself with something else for 5 minutes, then the craving will pass. Question is – what kind of things will keep you distracted?

What would you like to feast your ears on?
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  1. alm477

    As many people here have noted, you can crave things that your body needs but is not getting. When very anemic I will crave raisins (which I normally dislike) for their iron content. Before my mother discovered that she was badly b-12 deficient, she desperately craved bacon (which is high in b-12). Like theanita1, I’ve found myself craving salad and vegetables, usually when I’ve been stuck eating a lot of processed stuff for a while. Or sometimes just craving them, because I really like certain vegetables and sometimes I crave the sweet and water-crunch of my favorite ones. I’ve been buying orange bell peppers for this reason for weeks…

    Certain cravings are often found so closely with certain diagnoses that they can be a indication something is wrong (but *not* proof or part of diagnostic criteria, proper testing is needed for that!). People with ADHD (especially un-diagnosed) will often crave stimulants (caffeine is popular, but so is nicotine) as a form of self-medication. Intense cravings for eating ice (pagophagia) is common with people with iron-deficiency, to the point where a teaching aide correctly guessed I was anemic because of this.

    As noted in the podcast, some cravings can be emotional too. In undergrad I was chatting with a student about weird food likes/dislikes and she mentioned a friend of hers who would occasionally get cravings to eat spoonfuls of raw all-purpose flour. That person had lived in poverty and food insecurity parts of her childhood and at one point in her life all-purpose flour was the *only* food in the house. It was eat that or have an empty belly, so she acquired a taste for it that occasionally resurfaced even years (and less food insecurity) later.

    I will sometimes long for a specific food for days–even offered something else I like during those days will not quite satisfy. Often I will eventually give in, if possible.

  2. Annie1962

    I’ve always felt that a food craving is the way your body tells you that you are in need of something.. some nutrient that the particular food is abundant with..
    For example – craving nuts – perhaps the need for their natural oils.. or or grapes – for that particular sugar.

    When I was younger I would have a weird reaction occasionally when I would shake physically and I would KILL for some sweet candy bars.. usually the go to is Mars bars.

    Happened to me on the way to the supermarket to do the fortnightly shopping and I grabbed two Mars bars – king sized ones and scoffed them down. I don’t normally do that as it’d be too much.

    I’ve been the same way for a rare cooked steak with salt. Reckon that would be a case of low iron?

    So basically I’m saying, we might get cravings when we need a certain vitamin or mineral in that food.

    • Sorted

      You’re right, especially for pregnant people, this happens a lot when their body needs a certain nutrient or mineral.

  3. theanita1

    I lived in rural western Kenya for a year. I was living with a lovely local family, and our diet consisted of carbs and starches – boiled rice, boiled potatoes, boiled green banana, fried dough and overcooked pasta, served with some boiled green leaves and some tomato sauce/stew thingy.

    One night about three months in I had the most VIVID dream ever, and it was me eating a salad. I had serious physical urges for some fresh, uncooked vegetables. On my next weekend off I took the bus 3 hours to the closest big town/city that had a Java House and had me a salad.

    Even to this day I get cravings for salad. Since then I’ve been posted to other places for work that have also restricted my diet, but I have learnt to try and get fresh uncooked vegetables into my body every few weeks. Luckily at the moment I’m based in Beirut where Fattoush and Tabbouleh are available every day for my happy consumption.

    • Sorted

      That’s so interesting, thank you for sharing with us. We bet a lot of people wish they craved salad! ?

  4. tjmarskbb

    I remember my sister used to keep a poster in her kitchen that said: If you crave —, eat —.
    One of them was: If you crave sugar, eat broccoli.
    I remember thinking……riiiighht…..cause I’m totally gonna go ‘You know what I’m really craving a candy bar so let’s get that broccoli out….’

  5. danielahitstheroad

    Beat my cravings?! What….why? I might monitor the amount of what I shove in my face but if my body has a craving it gets what it wants. I rarely drink alcohol, I don’t smoke and I don’t do drugs. So to get my dopamin kick I rely on odd foods.
    And Ben, I have cravings for celery and tomatoes. Also for salt-brined cabbage and other pickles. Also a combination of dark chocolate and parmesan or Serrano ham.
    The trick is to do them in moderation; with me, they don’t just go away after a few minutes. I have been getting up again because I was lying in bed trying to sleep and WANTING THAT CORNICHON.
    Not much of it and I’m content and ready to sleep.
    Maybe I’m just odd. No, make that a definite ?

    • Sorted

      That’s great that you can eat these foods in moderation. A lot of people can’t do this – you’re lucky!

  6. Powerfulweak

    I loved Ben’s comment about wanting Haribo on road trips, because my husband, on every SINGLE vacation, no matter where we go, needs salt and vinegar Pringles and fruit and nut Cadbury bars. (He also uses the same language as Jamie: “my body knows what I need.”)
    I find that the distraction method is a great way around cravings, however I’m more likely to think “that was a good run. Time for a treat!”

    • Sorted

      Haha, it’s probably linked to nostalgia too. You’re right though, the distraction method is good, but then the ‘I need a reward’ kicks in too ? – we can’t win!

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