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Why Do We Naturally Love and Crave “Bad” Food So Much?!

Cheese.

Fries.

Ice cream.

Pizza.

OMG are you drooling too?! Why are these foods sooooo appealing even though they don’t give us very much nutrition? What is it about creamy, crunchy, sweet, and sometimes even greasy food that is so comforting? Why do we crave the foods that just make us feel gross and sleepy after we eat them?

As you know, I’ve been obsessed with learning the WHY about things so that I can better understand how our brains and bodies work. And just to clarify – don’t ever feel guilty for eating these foods! I’ve just always been curious why we naturally will get more excited about pizza instead of say, kale 😂  Sooo, this is what I found on why these “bad” foods are so tempting!

glass bowl of french fries

Fat is satisfying! 

Pretty much any type of comfort food, dessert, fried food, etc. is pretty high in fat.

And fat is satisfying.

It’s calorie-dense and makes you feel full. Then, it takes longer to digest so it helps to KEEP you full. It adds a creamy, thick texture to food, and you can’t deny that fat also gives food a ton of flavor! All of these things combined = satisfaction.

HOWEVER. You can get the same satisfaction with healthy fats like avocado and olive or coconut oil. Next time you’re tempted to pile some cheese on your burrito bowl, try avocado instead. It’s surprising just as satisfying and avocado gives you sooo much more in terms of nutrition!

chopped sweet chocolate pieces

Sugar makes you happy 

We’ve discussed this before, but your brain really tends to like sugar. When you eat sugar, your brain literally treats it like a reward and releases a dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy.

I guess that’s why it’s so common to crave sweets!

Even though it’s totally fine to give into your sweet cravings every now and then, you can also use fruit in a lot of different ways to add some sweetness to your favorite meals if you’re looking for a nutritional boost.

wooden spoon filled with salt

Salt and sugar = FLAVOR! 

Bland food is boring food.

But food with intense flavor, many times thanks to sugar or salt, is DELICIOUS. Combine that with the extra flavor thanks to fat, and whooaaa your taste buds are excited! Food that is bursting with flavor is just harder to put down. Plus, the memory of that flavor is a serious trigger for cravings.

If your healthy food isn’t cutting it flavorwise, it’s time to experiment with some spices! My favorites are paprika, chili powder and pretty much any Trader Joe’s seasoning. Yum.

Texture is important too! 

It’s not all about flavor.

Texture is a big factor when it comes to how much we enjoy a food. I mean, think about it. You might hate the stringy texture of something like celery, which makes it really hard to enjoy. On the other hand, maybe you literally crave the texture of warm, melty cheese or a velvety soup.

It also depends on our mood sometimes! There’s just something about a smooth, creamy texture that feels more soothing and comforting. If you’re feeling cozy or you need a little comfort, you might be more likely to crave those types of foods.

If you’re stressed or angry, crunchy foods like chips might be your go-to. Chewing on these foods is actually a form of stress relief for some people!

Drop the mindset that any food is actually “bad”

Unless it’s literally poison, obviously 😉

Yes, some foods give us more nutrition than others. But that doesn’t mean those other foods can’t benefit us in other ways. Food is an important part of our mental health too 🙂 Eating the foods you truly enjoy is just as important as learning how to enjoy healthy foods!

What are some “bad” foods that you crave the most? Tell me in the comments! 

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