Crave Nourishment

Understanding and Conquering Cravings

Do you ever feel like cravings for salty, sweet, and fatty foods have a hold on you? It can feel as if they “call to you” from the kitchen and no matter how hard you try you simply can’t resist. Does this ever happen to you? If you answered YES, you’re not alone! This is a very real struggle for so many women that I work with. This can be extremely frustrating if you’re focused on a health goal like managing lipedema, reducing inflammation, or achieving a comfortable body weight. The good news is that this isn’t your fault! Today we’re breaking down cravings and how to conquer them!


We’ve all felt what it’s like to be hungry, but cravings often feel like something else altogether! Cravings go beyond a healthy appetite and instead feel more like an intense wave pulling you towards specific types of food.

Let’s break down the differences. Hunger is the feeling we get when our stomachs are empty (1). Appetite is the desire to eat food. Cravings are different. 

Harvard Health (2) defines cravings as, “an intense urge to eat a certain food—ideally right away.”

While hunger can be alleviated by eating any food, cravings are very specific for a single type of food, like chocolate, donuts, or pizza. Plus, cravings can pop up at any moment—we can crave a certain food even if we just finished filling up on dinner and we’re not physically hungry at all.


Cravings are brought on by several biological factors such as hormones as well as environmental cues. Both of these things play a huge role in how often you feel cravings and how strong they are in your body.

Food cravings are usually very specific and directed toward sweet, salty, or fatty foods. And they’re not as simple as having a “sweet tooth,” or lack of self-control.

There are several complex and common physiological causes of cravings. Many of these are hard-wired into our brains and are naturally regulated by hormones and other biochemicals.

The good news here is that food cravings are not your fault, a sign of weakness, or a lack of willpower.

Since there are so many things at play, cravings can occur at any time and they’re often strong, and hard to manage. That feeling of chips or candy “calling your name” isn’t just in your head!


 Let’s talk about some specific craving triggers. We’ll start with some common causes that I’m willing to bet you deal with from time to time!

Brain Signals: When you eat something delicious, your brain releases chemicals like dopamine, which make you feel good and help to create a positive association with that particular food.

Then, the next time you see or encounter that same food, your brain releases those “feel-good chemicals” again, which triggers the craving. This response is also known as “The Pleasure Trap” because our brains want to keep obtaining the “reward” of the dopamine hit and will continue to release chemicals in the brain every time the trigger occurs.

Hormones: Ghrelin, known as the hunger hormone, can increase your cravings when your body signals hunger. Leptin, on the other hand, helps regulate appetite and reduce cravings. Leptin is triggered by fiber and bulk in your belly.

Emotions and Stress: Emotional factors can significantly contribute to cravings. This includes both positive and negative emotions. Think about birthday celebrations for example. This is associated with positive emotions and what else? You guessed it – birthday cake!

Stress and negative emotions can also trigger a desire for comfort foods. Think about the last time you had a really hard day at work. What was your coping mechanism? A glass of wine, or some chocolate? If you answered yes, you’re not alone! This happens to so many of us!

Another important point to note is that negative self-talk also triggers cravings. If you’re beating yourself up on a regular basis, it’s likely you’ll feel an increase in cravings.

Environmental Cues: Finally, we can’t forget this one! Sight, smell, and even social situations can trigger cravings. The sight of a dessert table or the smell of freshly baked bread can make you crave certain foods immediately!

An important factor in preventing these types of cravings is self-awareness. Think about what types of environmental cues produce heavy cravings for you and plan ahead in these situations if you can!


So is all hope lost? Are we doomed to deal with cravings forever?

Absolutely not! There are plenty of great ways to reduce and manage cravings. We don’t want to prevent ourselves from eating if we’re truly hungry. However, there may be times when we’re craving something that we know we don’t have room for and is not going to serve our health. In these cases, there are a few strategies you can try to help curb those cravings.


If you’re interested in learning all about how to manage your cravings and make a personalized plan of action, I have a special treat for you!

Click the image or click here to grab my FREE mini-training: CRAVINGS CONTROL!

You’ll get a cheat sheet to help you remember what causes cravings as well as a list of strategies to manage them!

You’ll even get some journal prompts and reflection questions to help you create your very own personalized plan to conquer your cravings!

You don’t have to do it alone, grab my FREE training guide for support!


  1. Meule A. (2020). The Psychology of Food Cravings: the Role of Food Deprivation. Current nutrition reports, 9(3), 251–257.
  2. Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. (2021, April). Cravings. The Nutrition Source.



Hi, I’m Bonnie! 

I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) specializing in women’s health, lipedema nutrition, and sustainable weight management. I’d love to help you reach your own personal health goals and become the most vibrant version of yourself.

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