Food cravings are rarely a healthy desire, with the majority of people craving sugary, salty, fatty, or carbohydrate-rich foods to satisfy certain desires. They are usually emotional, rather than a sign of hunger.
"A lot of people wants caffeine and sugar just to think," says Mary Beth Sodus, a registered nutritionist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. These forms of cravings are more intellectual, as people need these foods to stay engaged, she says.
Sugar is a common craving and is common when people are in need of energy and want a quick fix. "Sometimes people go from sugar to sugar without actually eating a meal," says Sodus.
Although sweet, chocolate is its own class of craving and is commonly associated with people wanting to be comforted. "It's like a big hug." says Sodus.
Salty flavors are also a common craving and can occur for a wide range of reasons, according to the experts. But things can be done to stop them consuming your mind. "They hit people above the neck as a taste for something, not actual hunger," says Sodus.
Carbohydrates can also be a common craving. Their heavy, hearty nature can be what people crave when in need of comforting or wanting to relax, and feel sleep, according to Sodus.
"[Carbohydrates] are kind of anesthetizing food...and have a comforting quality," says Sodus.
Sodus argues that the smooth, milky texture of dairy items such as cheese can help people feel mothered. "It's made from milk and is a substantial source of protein."
One key aspect of cravings, and averting hunger overall, is hydration."Hydration is key, that can change your feeling of fullness almost immediately," says Sodus.
Sodus recommends certain "safe-foods" that can help satisfy cravings without the added calories and eventually steer them away. These foods include a grapefruit, small red baked potatoes, carrots, and salads filled with greens and fiber
Another solution to cravings is visual distraction. Scientists at Queen Mary's University of London found that setting people imagery tasks when they had a craving helped them forget about the craving as doing the task buys time for it to pass and, more importantly, stops people visualizing the food they are craving.