Have you ever noticed that you seem to have a craving for certain foods at certain times? When you’re sad, upset or depressed, the craving for comfort food may be stronger than normal. You may run to the ice cream store or the candy store, and pick up a gallon of ice cream. Will you eat it all? That will depend on how stressed you are.
Sound familiar? There’s a very good reason for that. Foods such as ice cream, cookies or cake are usually associated with your home or your childhood. You may follow through and eat the things that are associated with happy or secure feelings, in an attempt to recapture those feelings and ease your stress.
Intense food cravings can sometimes indicate a lack of certain hormones in the body, or may be due to dieting or even pregnancy. When the desire seems to only be for comfort food, you may be trying to fill an emotional void in your life.
Cravings for comfort food may happen most often when you’re feeling stressed or upset. Stress causes an individual to deal with a threat against the body and mind, thus they are physically wired to seek out something soothing. Every time that you eat these particular items, you feel better. The response only serves to reinforce the feelings. Soon, you’ve tied your emotions to eating specific things, where eating then becomes a way to reduce your stress and to feel more comfortable. This is what is called "emotional eating."
While cravings alone may not be harmful, you may end up eating too much or too many foods that aren’t good for you. To combat these feelings, you first need to realize that you’re doing it. Keep a diary to write down what you eat and what you’re feeling when you eat certain things. Armed with this information, you may be able to get to the root of your emotions. You’ll also be able to learn to substitute better, healthier choices, or even fill the void by calling a friend, or going out to have fun instead of eating.