A food craving is a powerful desire to consume a specific food. Food cravings differ from regular hunger in that hunger can be fulfilled by any number of foods, whereby a craving can only be satisfied by a particular food. Cravings vary by gender (women have more cravings than men), by age (the elderly have more cravings than younger people), and by types of food (women crave foods such as chocolate, cake, and candy. Men crave more protein-based foods like pizza, burgers and crunchy snacks such as nuts and chips). There are four theories explaining food cravings. Three of the four affect men as well as women. The fourth, hormone theory, impacts only women. The four theories are as follows:
One: Deprivation Theory. When a food is off limits or restricted in some way, cravings increase. Food denial has been linked to overeating; we tend to crave what we cannot have. And when we overeat, we feel guilty which leads to more eating and more guilt -a vicious cycle.
Two: Brain Chemical Theory. Neuropeptide and galanin, two brain chemicals, affect food cravings. Neuropeptide, which causes us to crave sugar, peaks just after waking up. Galanin, which initiates a craving for fat, peaks at night.
Three: Stress Response Theory. During times of high stress the body releases Cortisol and adrenaline, initiating the fight or flight response. During such times the body demands immediate energy. This increases the desire for simple carbohydrates – which the body converts in glucose.
Four: Hormone Theory. This is where women differ so greatly from men. All of us endure emotionally-driven cravings: isolation, resentment, anger, unfulfilled needs. But, it is only women who endure hormonally-driven food cravings. And the key hormone involved with food cravings is serotonin. Cravings can be controlled by supplanting: substituting a good food for a bad one.

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