The Science-Backed Reasons Behind Cravings And How To Rewire Them

Food cravings can happen for seemingly no reason. Kent Berridge, a psychology and neuroscience professor, says that the brain is hardwired to respond to food whenever it’s available. It’s a survival technique.

But that only makes cravings harder to rewire. If you think that cravings are only a result of nutrient deficiencies or hunger, you’d be wrong. From chips to chocolate to cheese, food desires can be difficult to handle. Learn scientific causes of cravings and how you can rewire yours.

Cravings Aren’t Nutrition Deficiencies

A girl eats ice cream outside of a McDonald's.
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A common misconception is that cravings are “nutrient deficiencies.” For instance, if you’re craving potato chips, you may not have enough salt in your body. But that isn’t always the case, says registered dietitian Vandana Sheth, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Sheth told Shape that we experience cravings for many reasons. It could be that we associate foods with specific emotions, or that your body remembers the taste of a certain food.