Secrets of Serious Food Cravings: How much do you know?

Staff

Men and women have the same frequency of food cravings.

Research at the Monell Chemical Senses Center found that in the period of a year nearly 100 percent of females and 70 percent of males had a food craving.

Food cravings vary from from one culture to another.

Women in the United States were reported to crave sweet items, like chocolate, whereas women in Egypt craved more savory dishes, like meat-stuffed eggplant.

Dopamine, the feel-good hormone, is released when a person engages in the following activites:

All of these activities can result in dopamine stimulation, which is a chemical reward for the brain. When you fuflill a food craving you're getting a milder "high" than if you were to engage in drug use.

Food cravings are just the body's way of trying to get nutrients that it could be lacking

False -- food cravings are largely mental, and fulfilling a craving with fatty and high-sugar foods doesn't give your body any real nutritional value.

We acquire our food cravings:

By the second trimester a fetus can distinguish between different tastes that are passed from what the mother eats through amniotic fluid. A mother's diet greatly influences her child's future taste palette.

A 2007 study by Hertfordshire University found that women who tried to quit thinking about eating chocolate ended up eating how much more chocolate than those who expressed their desire for the candy?

Fifty percent -- proving that much of how and what we crave is mental. In fact, heightened emotional states (like stress and anxiety) are key food craving triggers.

Studies show that pica -- the condition of eating nonfood items -- is a phenomenon found in some pregnant women's diets. They may crave items such as:

Dirt eating, or geophagia, has been noted in pregnant women who have iron deficiencies. While eating dirt could provide some iron, some researchers think it has more to do with craving texture than fulfilling a deficiency. Other common pica items are ice, cornstarch and clay.

Pregnant women are more likely to have odd food cravings because:

Scientists have yet to pinpoint exactly why a pregnant woman has bizarre food cravings, but the prevailing thought is that since the sense of smell and taste is heightened, it results in cravings for more intensely flavored foods.

Cravings spurred by anxiety are usually for foods that contain:

Both -- think that carb-laden potato chips aren't part of the food craving problem? Think again: Highly refined carbohydrates are converted into sugar by the body.

Why do we usually crave foods high in fat and sugar?

Both -- sugar and fat have a "louder" signal, resulting in a bigger high from the reward center of the brain in the form of dopamine. The problem is that -- much like substance abuse -- the more you eat these foods, the less dopamine is released. In order to achieve the high you must consume more and more fat and sugar.

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About This Quiz

Have you ever had the thought that you had to have a warm, gooey chocolate chip cook right at this moment, or a bag of crispy, perfectly salted fries -- the ones just like your favorite burger joint had when you were kid? If you've experienced something similar to this and found yourself throwing away the rest of your food craving in the garbage and burying it under coffee grounds to keep yourself from retrieving it, then you, my friend, have been under the spell of a food jonesing. Find out why, who gets them and what we consume the most of.

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