Southern Illinois University Carbondale

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Food Cravings

We all have cravings for certain foods, but do we really know what that means?

Food cravings are mostly associated with emotions, like stress and anxiety. When we eat certain foods like chocolate, which releases serotonin, it has a calming effect on our brain. The brain then stores that information and uses it for when we produce these emotions again. Unfortunately all the foods we typically have cravings for are all high in sugar, fat, and refined carbohydrates which can lead to weight gain.

If you want to control your cravings, here are a few tips to help keep them in check.

  • Don’t skip meals – When we get too hungry (think growling tummy); people tend to grab quick-fix foods that are typically high in fat, sugar, and carbs. Instead plan ahead and keep healthy snacks on hand like a piece of fruit and almonds for when your day gets hectic.

  • Try switching to more complex carbs as opposed to high-refined carbs – It will still have that calming effect but with added benefits like fiber, vitamins, and minerals which will also keep you fuller longer.

  • Relax – Talking with friends, taking a walk outside, or reading a book are all great ways to reduce stress and calm your nerves without splurging.

  • Start a journal – Writing down what foods you splurged on and the feelings you had before and after you consumed them, might give you a better understanding of what triggers you.

So remember, any time a craving arises, step back and take a moment to determine if you’re really hungry and practice any of these combinations to help you conquer cravings once and for all.

Crave healthy foods Salukis!

Your University Housing Nutrition Team,
University Residence Hall Dining

Michele Stoeppelman
Dietetics Graduate Assistant

Stephanie Nehrt
Undergraduate Nutrition Intern