Have you ever wondered why you may be craving chocolate one minute, and then a nice big bowl of soup the next?
I know I have. I have come home from school numerous times only to find that we don't actually have any of the food I may be craving. Once, I was craving chocolate so much I begged my mom to let me make chocolate chip cookies. While making the cookies, I wondered why I was so desperate for chocolate, so I decided to do some research.
I found out that you get certain food cravings when you are in a particular mood. Here are some examples:
Spices = need for excitement. Let's face it, with the same school routine happening every day, there can be times when you wish you could "spice things up," which is exactly why, when you feel this way, you are more likely to add spices to your food. You are in need of something new and exciting, and what better way to fill it than through hot jalapeno-filled poppers or some chimichangas?
Chocolate = love. If you've been craving chocolate lately, it's because you have either been searching for love, or you are in love. Chocolate has a certain chemical in it, phenylethylamine (PEA), which creates a feeling of pleasure we have when we're feeling romantic. Chocolate cakes, Hershey bars, chocolate fountains, and of course, chocolate chip cookies ... all foods of love.
Dairy = antidepressant. If you're hungry for ice cream, cheesy pizza or just any dairy product in general, it's most likely because you're fighting off a small form of depression. You're craving this because some cheeses are made with tyramine and choline in them. Scientists who study moods have proven tyramine to be a stimulant, but, oddly, choline does the exact opposite and relaxes the body. Together, they lift your spirits and get you through the day.
Salt = stress. Say you've got a huge test in biology coming up. Naturally, you're stressed. Because of this, you're more likely to snack on salty things, such as pretzels or popcorn. And because salty snacks are usually crunchy, it has been proven to provide a physical outlet -- through your jaw -- for the stress or anxiety you may be feeling.
Grains = comfort. Something terrible has happened at school, and you really need to talk about it. While you are waiting for someone to speak to, you'll probably want to munch on some toast, or be craving pasta for dinner. These foods are known for their comforting effect, and will tide you over until you can find an outlet for your need of comfort.
Fat = fear. There's a big dance coming up, and you don't know who to ask. It's just a few days away and you're afraid that you won't have enough time to invite someone. Your snack of choice then will be fatty foods, such as doughnuts, french fries, hamburgers and bacon. In fact, bacon in and of itself is fried fat.
The craving for fatty foods comes from the feeling of emptiness or being alone you may feel when you're nervous or afraid. Just remember, girlfriends, the doughnuts may help with your loneliness, but they definitely won't help your dress size.
The next time you are craving, for example, milk or spicy foods, you'll know exactly why. However, there is a caution to mood/food cravings. Snacking is usually used as a pastime, but when cravings get out of hand, it can lead to overeating. Ways to avoid overeating might be finding a project to work on or exercising, like going on a nice run.
The next time you reach for the cupboard to fill your craving, make sure you know whether you're actually hungry or just feeling emotional.
Olivia Andrus is a sophomore at Ogden High School. She enjoys traveling, playing the piano and king-sized Kit Kats. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.