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Why Do Men and Women Crave Junk Food?

May 19, 2010

If you crave certain foods from time to time, especially junk foods, then you are certainly not alone. Many people are suddenly struck by a craving for potato chips, candy bars or cookies every now and again. The following are common reasons why men and women crave junk foods.

Hormones

Studies reveal that hormonal changes in women, typically the monthly menstrual cycle, plays an important role in triggering junk food cravings. The level of estrogen in a woman’s body drops as well as the serotonin level in her brain when she is about to have her menstrual period. Serotonin is the brain chemical that is responsible for making a person relaxed and calm. When it decreases, cravings for carbohydrate and fat-rich foods like chocolates, cakes, cookies and potato chips, are triggered by the increase in mood swings of a woman.

Men experience junk food cravings during their teenage years when their hormones are still erratic. But since men do not have monthly hormonal changes in their bodies after puberty, they tend to have fewer junk food cravings than women.

Pregnancy

Medical researchers reveal that the changes in hormones that pregnant women experience and their need to increase the calories intake exhibits changes in their preferred diet. Amongst the common foods that they crave for are chocolates, potato chips and pickles.

Stress

It is a common reaction to reach out for a bar of chocolate when you are under stress. Stress increases the need for additional carbohydrate intake to provide more energy to cope with it. With the stressful life that people lead these days, especially in the work section of their lives, it is no wonder that vending machines are available in most offices.

Self Deprivation

When you deprive yourself of the food you crave, it will follow that you will think about that food non-stop until you finally give in. Junk foods are always the first on the list to go when you are dieting or watching your weight. However, chocolates, potato chips and the like are the food you mostly crave because they are easy to get (no preparation at all) and thereby the hardest ones to give up. It is a vicious circle because you deny yourself of the craving but give in and you deny yourself even more.

Other factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, have been linked to junk food cravings. For example, if you are calcium deficient, you may crave yogurt, milk or other foods that are high in calcium. However, these theories are not medically supported. Some cravings are brought about by psychological factors: the smell of cookies baking, seeing television advertisements for cheeseburgers and pizzas, or seeing someone walking past you with a bag of potato chips. When you crave for junk foods, try to restrain yourself from binging, so as not to compromise your weight or your health.  

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