General Health

Your Brain on Food Cravings

Food Cravings

Food is quite amazing! Our lives revolve around food. Cultures are brought up around the kinds of food available, and the dinner table is seen as a way for the nuclear family to stay in touch with each other. But what is the link between food and the brain? We will explore this relationship with a few brief, but important thoughts.

Brains are incredibly complex machines, they are in charge of both kinds of bodily function, voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary body functions might be when you reach for a glass of water. An involuntary bodily function could be the feeling of thirst that motivates you to decide to get the cup of water.

When we eat food, it can be for many different reasons. Maybe you have a craving for something sweet, or something salty. Maybe you desire a snack, or maybe you are very hungry. Either way, the brain has some responsibility for getting us to the nearest fridge or restaurant for some delicious, and filling food.

The brain itself, is made up of many different parts that process different kinds of information. Flavor and smell, two of the most influential senses in how and what we think of the food we are eating, are processed in the brain. The combination of both of them contribute to the idea of taste. There is also texture, which is more of the sense of touch or feel.

What happens in the brain with food cravings? An interesting fact is that a chemical made in the brain, called dopamine, plays a large role in food cravings. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating pleasure and gets used in the brain when people eat food they have been craving. It creates a good feeling and makes you want more, more of that good feeling.

Food cravings can be beneficial, like if you have a hankering for healthy fats such as nitrite-free bacon, or avocados. Other food cravings can be detrimental, such as tearing through a whole bag of chocolate chip cookies or potato chips. This is where a part of the brain called the frontal lobes comes into play. Located behind our foreheads, the frontal lobes are responsible for critical thinking. This is where we use our common sense and our thought process to understand that the craving for all those chocolate chip cookies might not be the best thing, and to reach for something healthier instead.

So if you have a food craving, take a moment and think about why you might be having that craving. Sometimes, if you wait for 20 minutes, the craving will go away. Other times, that may not be the case. Depending on your food choices, some say they crave more fat when they aren’t getting enough in their diet. We say, if that is the case, satisfy your craving with some of these fantastic recipes on our website


Ignacio Jáuregui Lobera (2012). Neurophysiological Basis of Food Craving, State of the Art of Therapeutic Endocrinology, Dr. Sameh Magdeldin (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51-0772-9, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/48717. Available from:
Brain Basics: Know Your Brain. (2015, April 17). Retrieved January 7, 2016, from