Cravings – causes, treatment

Ravenous appetite

One speaks of cravings when the person concerned suddenly develops a powerful hunger and stuffs everything into himself that he can find. In the long term, this leads to considerable weight problems.

What is cravings?

Cravings describe a condition in which sufferers randomly eat everything they can find – even if they usually do not like a food very much. After that, they are completely oversaturated, they can get sick and they occasionally vomit willingly or involuntarily.

The cravings occur about equally often as a one-time thing or in batches again and again. Above all, however, cravings do not serve the necessary food intake; the person concerned tries to satisfy an unsatisfied need, which has nothing to do with hunger, but rather with the psyche.

During a food craving attack, more unhealthy foods are ingested, which are high in sugar.


There are 3 causes of cravings: physical needs, the psyche and the combination of both. Physical cravings occur when hypoglycaemia or an underlying disease such as diabetes mellitus is present. Even pregnant women eat unusual things or even an unusual amount – but the cause of their cravings is the hormonal confusion in the first months of pregnancy.

In the psychological field, eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa play a role, and obesity patients also suffer from relapsing cravings. Stress and negative feelings are the direct triggers, because serotonin is released by the unhealthy food and you are happy again for a short time.

The mixed form contains components of both worlds and increasingly occurs during mental stress, which is then accompanied by hypoglycaemia and forces the body to absorb sugar – in such a way that it can be metabolized quickly.

Diseases with this symptom


For the physician, cravings can be recognized by the fact that the patient acts without real control over his behavior. The anamnesis is already sufficient to recognize that the person concerned suffers intermittently from cravings and this does not serve the pure preservation of the body substance.

Food cravings occur outside of regular meal times and those affected often suffer psychologically from having let themselves be carried away. The exact diagnosis is made through physical examinations such as blood sampling and, if necessary, by talking to a psychologist.

Often, in the case of cravings, a further diagnosis must be made and the underlying disease determined. However, if pregnant women suffer from cravings, it does not require a separate diagnosis, the causes are clear and it is unproblematic.


Cravings occur occasionally even in healthy people. As long as it does not become a permanent state, this is not a problem. However, food cravings can also indicate more severe physical and mental problems. Initially, cravings can be caused by a number of organic disorders, but are often not recognized as a symptom and therefore not taken seriously.

In particular, metabolic disorders come into question, but hormonal problems are also conceivable. Since many people know occasional cravings as signs of stress, they do not come to the conclusion in these cases that a doctor’s visit would be due. This idea is actually not completely wrong, because at least as often behind frequent cravings is also a mental problem that is not recognized promptly. Not only unhealthy stress can be behind it, it can just as well be depression or an eating disorder.

Especially in the case of cravings for mental reasons, sufferers do not like to admit that they have a problem, which is why the untreated cravings can gradually make them overweight to obese. Obesity, on the other hand, is a very dangerous condition, because obesity can lead to secondary diseases such as hormonal imbalances, an increased risk of certain types of cancer or cardiovascular diseases. Recurrent cravings, which continue over a longer period of time, should therefore always be presented to a doctor.

When to go to the doctor?

Cravings are by no means to be confused with the usual strong hunger. People with cravings react to this with an almost uncontrolled eating. This is not about the need for increased food intake, as is normal, for example, after a long wait for food or after physical exertion.

If cravings were not a one-time episode, but occur regularly, a medical clarification should be made. Otherwise, there will be massive weight problems. On top of that, there is a risk of other secondary diseases – such as cardiovascular diseases and even cancer.

The occurrence of cravings can have both physical and psychological causes, as well as both in combination. The first point of contact for cravings is the . Depending on the physical cause of the cravings, he may be able to carry out the treatment himself or refer him to an internist. Thus, metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus can trigger cravings in physical hypoglycaemia.

Often cravings are also psychological and belong in the treatment of a psychologist or psychotherapist. The typical keywords for psychological cravings are anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, stress and depression.

Treatment & Therapy

Physical cravings can be treated by eliminating the basic problem. Obesity patients are offered, for example, , stomach reduction or a similar surgical method, which should bring about success faster and relieve the body. It may be necessary to readjust medications that have already been administered in order to prevent cravings in the future.

Treatment is more difficult for psychological causes or mental illness, such as bulimia or binge eating. Those affected often do not even see that they are ill and must first gain this knowledge before the psychiatrist can do anything. For this purpose, a hospital stay is necessary to prevent the patients from possibly dying.

Simpler psychological causes are eliminated by suggesting better coping strategies than cravings, such as meditation, sports or a hobby that is fun and relaxing. In the mixed form, the respective problems are treated individually, so that the food cravings have an end.

Outlook & Forecast

Cravings come in the form of a food craving or refers to a single or a few specific foods or tastes over a long period of time. If the cravings are due to a lack of nutrients, the cravings will last for a while even after a change in diet or the intake of dietary supplements. If the deficiency gradually regresses, the cravings also improve.

If, on the other hand, it has hormonal or drug-related reasons, cravings will keep coming back as long as the condition persists or the triggering drug is being taken. It becomes even more permanent if it has psychological reasons such as an eating disorder. In these cases, the cravings can only be controlled through psychotherapeutic treatment and can arise again and again throughout life, for example in the case of binge eating disorder.

The individual food cravings usually relate to certain foods or tastes when they occur and can be quenched, at least in the short term, by eating the food in question. However, since ravenous hunger no longer gives a healthy feeling of appetite, the person affected no longer has a sense of how much he is eating and when he is full. This can lead to obesity in the long term if the lifestyle is characterized by little exercise and the cravings are not just sporadic.


You can prevent cravings by finding other ways to calm yourself down and make yourself happy when you’re going through mental stress. Talking, exercising, exercising or other coping strategies are far more fulfilling than cravings – you’ll soon find that out for yourself.

Eating disorders can be prevented by being very conscious about eating sensibly and trying to get fit and slim instead of starving and skinny. The beauty ideals of the media do not correspond to reality, you have to keep reminding yourself and young people in particular.

You can do that yourself

Various home remedies and measures help with cravings. A simple trick is to drink a glass of water before every meal and when you have an acute craving to fill your stomach. Bananas , dextroseand other foods with a high energy density also reduce hunger quickly and effectively.

Chewing dried sage leaves also relieves cravings. A cup of mate tea relaxes the stomach and can thus contribute to a reduction of food cravings. In addition, glutamate-rich food should be avoided. Emerging hunger can also be alleviated by eating raw food, or low-fat quark. Attacks on sweets can be alleviated by brushing your teeth, while cravings for salty foods can be reduced by seasoned peppers, orcarrots. A glass of water with a dash of Maggi also helps acutely against cravings.

In addition to dietary measures, acupressure can often reduce cravings, effective points are for example directly on the cheekbone under the eye or on the furrow between the nose and upper lip. If these home remedies and self-measures show no noticeable effect, the causes of cravings must first be found and remedied.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.