Sudden food cravings can make even the best-intentioned diets and health kicks meet a brutal end. Know what I’m talking about? Odds are, you’ve experienced a powerful food craving where you couldn’t be satisfied by any other snack. These seem to come right out of the blue—but do they really?

Turns out there’s some common causes of your food cravings that could make or break your healthy eating habits.

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Sydney Segal

When faced with these desires, it may seem easier to just give into them and indulge. Regardless of your decisions, knowing why you’re experiencing these cravings can help you control and regulate them.

Sweet Treats and Caffeine Boosts:

Sugar and caffeine are two of the most addictive substances we consume on a daily basis. In fact, failing to have your morning coffee can cause withdrawal symptoms throughout your day (or until you get your fix). Similarly, if you’re been consuming sugary foods or drinks regularly, omitting them from your diet can cause you to crave them even more.

Many college students, myself included, can’t fully start the day until they’re sipping on their iced coffee or some other caffeinated drink. One coffee a day (or maybe two if you’re really crashing), may seem harmless, but it can cause a full-blown addiction that will have surprising effects down the road. If you’ve ever tried to break your caffeine addiction, you know the consequences I’m talking about.

The same goes for sugar; If you’re used to eating a sugary snack around the same time everyday, your body may subconsciously program that event into your day. If you miss your snack time, you may feel physical repercussions, such as irritability or becoming sleepy.

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Caroline Morano

Sleep Deprivation and Dehydration:

Consistently being sleep deprived could be influencing your dietary needs, or tricking you into thinking you need something that you don’t. This could cause you to reach for sugary snacks or drinks in order to get a sugar boost and re-energize yourself.

Another potential reason you could be reaching for sugar-filled junk food could be dehydration. It’s common to mix up the feelings of thirst and hunger, which may lead you to unhealthy snacking when you aren’t really hungry. If you’re consciously aware that you aren’t drinking as much water per day as you should be, try drinking a glass of water before you reach for your snack and see if that solves the problem.


Similarly, if you’re overly stressed or upset, you may be tempted by sweet treats. These high sugar foods can temporarily increase your serotonin levels, making you feel happier for a short period of time. However, this isn’t a sustainable way to increase your mood, and shouldn’t become a habit.

Many of these underlying reasons apply to another common factor in our diets—salt. A considerable amount of the best junk foods, such as potato chips or fries, are our go-to’s for snacking.

Sodium cravings, similar to sugar, can be caused by dehydration, stress, or lack of sleep.

Another significant factor is boredom, which may cause you to reach for a snack with a high salt content. Mindless munching, such as when you’re eating popcorn and watching a movie, can become second nature. This may leave you dehydrated, so be sure to drink extra water when the movie is finished. 


You may find yourself craving salt after a hard workout where you’ve been sweating a lot. In these cases, it’s best to rebuild your sodium levels slowly and through natural salts, as opposed to diving into a bag of french fries.

So, what does this mean? 

At the end of the day, occasionally indulging in your favorite ice cream or some potato chips won’t kill you; however, being aware of your habits can help your health down the road. 

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Rica Beltran