the binge-eating files » Craving

Articles and research on cravings and binge eating, overeating, emotional eating, food addiction and mental health

Scientists tricked our brains into craving ultraprocessed foods – and now people are fighting back    Globe and Mail (Jan 17, 2024) by Gayle MacDonald — Until recently I thought I was making wise choices about food. My cupboards are full of products touted as “natural, “healthy” and “organic,” with packaging that promises they are “low in sodium,” contain “no trans fat” and put “fibre first.”  Then I started to hear more about the hidden dangers of ultraprocessed foods (UPFs) and I thought I’d better take a closer look in my pantry and fridge. Turns out I’m not so smart after all. … more

In the Ozempic Age, Has ‘Craveable’ Lost Its Selling Power?   New York Times (Jan 16, 2024) by Kim Severson — The food industry has long touted its products as impossible to resist. But with a spotlight on the perils of compulsive eating, that tactic is getting another look. … more

A Dietitian’s Take: The 4 Best Ways To Crush Sugar Cravings   StudyFinds (Aug 21, 2023) by Shyla Cadogan, RD — If you find yourself craving sugar all the time, you’re not alone. Sugar can make people feel almost powerless at times, but it doesn’t have to be that way. So how do you take control of things before they take control of you? … more

Cravings for fatty foods traced to gut-brain connection   ScienceDaily (Sept 7, 2022) — Mouse research reveals fat sensors in the intestines that stimulate the brain and drive food desires. A dieter wrestling with cravings for fatty foods might be tempted to blame their tongue: the delicious taste of butter or ice cream is hard to resist. But new research investigating the source of our appetites has uncovered an entirely new connection between the gut and the brain that drives our desire for fat. … more

Simply looking at food triggers inflammation in the brain, can impair health in overweight people   Gut Health News (July 5, 2022) by Matt Higgins  … Researchers from the University of Basel and University Hospital Basel report the sight and smell of food triggers an insulin release. The insulin release depends on a short-term inflammatory response. When this happens in overweight people, the inflammatory response is so excessive it can impair insulin secretion. … more

Got food cravings? What’s living in your gut may be responsible   ScienceDaily (April 20, 2022) – New research on mice shows for the first time that the microbes in animals’ guts influence what they choose to eat, making substances that prompt cravings for different kinds of foods. Eggs or yogurt, veggies or potato chips? We make decisions about what to eat every day, but those choices may not be fully our own. New University of Pittsburgh research on mice shows for the first time that the microbes in animals’ guts influence what they choose to eat, making substances that prompt cravings for different kinds of foods. … more

Mindfulness may help reduce cravings for food and drugs, says review   ScienceDaily (Jan 30, 2018) – Mindfulness strategies may help prevent or interrupt cravings for food and drugs, such as cigarettes and alcohol, by occupying short term memory, according to a new review. … more

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads   ScienceDaily (Jan 15, 2018) – Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a new report. … more

Tempting your taste buds: Food cues entice consumers to overeat   ScienceDaily  (Nov 21, 2017) – The mouth-watering aroma of juicy burgers and crispy fries, and the eye-catching menu signs with delicious food pictures can tempt many hungry patrons to stop at fast-food restaurants. … more

Poor Sleep Gives You the Munchies, Study Says  New York Times (Mar 4, 2016) by Jonah Bromwich – Evidence has suggested for some time that sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, among a host of other ills. Now researchers are digging into the mechanisms that cause our sleep-deprived brains to crave food they do not need. A study published on Tuesday in the journal SLEEP suggested that the brain receptors that can lead the sleep-deprived to crave unnecessary food were the same as those activated by marijuana. Essentially, not sleeping can give you a ferocious case of the munchies. … more

Sleep loss boosts hunger, unhealthy food choices   ScienceDaily  (Feb 29, 2016) – Cutting  back on sleep boosts levels of a chemical signal that can enhance the pleasure of eating snack foods and increase caloric intake, report investigators. It may be part of a mechanism that encourages overeating, leading to weight gain, they say. … more

Food may be addictive: Food craving may be ‘hard-wired’ in the brain   ScienceDaily (Aug 31, 2015) – An international group of researchers have found that food craving activates different brain networks between obese and normal weight patients. This indicates that the tendency to want food may be ‘hard-wired’ into the brain of overweight patients, becoming a functional brain biomarker. … more

Cravings may be reduced with Tetris  MNT-Medical News Today (Aug 17, 2015) – Resisting cravings can be an uphill struggle for many people. However, a new study reveals how playing Tetris may help reduce our desires. In the first study of its kind, psychologists from the University of Plymouth in the UK and Queensland University of Technology in Australia sought to see if the simple tile-laying game could be applied to participants in a real-life setting. They discovered participants who played Tetris reported weaker feelings of cravings, and it was also found the game reduced the vividness and frequency of craving imagery in individuals…more

Is defeat sweeter than victory? Researchers reveal the science behind emotional eating ScienceDaily (July 9, 2015) – Research by food scientists reveals how a person’s emotional state — particularly in the competitive, wide world of sports — affects the perception of taste. In particular, people in negative emotional states tend to crave sweets more than those in a positive frame of mind. more …

10 Mistakes That Make Cravings Worse   Huffington Post (Sept 14, 2014) by Jessica Migala — ravings. Such a dirty word when you’re trying to lose weight or keep it off. No matter what your “I-want-it-now” food is — pizza, burgers, ice cream, cupcakes — you probably wrestle with what you want to do (eat it now!) with what you “should” do (go eat veggies). Unfortunately, it’s true that many of our daily habits actually make cravings more intense and frequent, making healthy decisions harder. That doesn’t mean you can’t do something about it. Learn the 10 biggest mistakes that make cravings even worse to get yours under control.   more …

Food craving is stronger, but controllable, for kids   ScienceDaily (Sept 8, 2014) — Children show stronger food craving than adolescents and adults, but they are also able to use a cognitive strategy that reduces craving, according to new research. “These findings are important because they suggest that we may have another tool in our toolbox to combat childhood obesity,” says psychological scientist and the study’s lead researcher. more …

Smoking may dull obese women’s ability to taste fat, sugar   ScienceDaily (Apr 3, 2014) – Cigarette smoking among obese women appears to interfere with their ability to taste fats and sweets, a new study shows. Despite craving high-fat, sugary foods, these women were less likely than others to perceive these tastes, which may drive them to consume more calories. “Obese people often crave high-fat foods,” she said. “Our findings suggest that having this intense craving but not perceiving fat and sweetness in food may lead these women to eat more. Since smoking and obesity are risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, the additional burden of craving more fats and sugars, while not fully tasting them, could be detrimental to health.” more …

Habits, not cravings, drive food choice during times of stress   ScienceDaily (July 16, 2013) — Putting a new spin on the concept of “stress eating,” research presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Annual Meeting & Expo® found that people who eat during times of stress typically seek the foods they eat out of habit — regardless of how healthy or unhealthy that food is.  The research co-authored and presented by David Neal, Ph.D., a psychologist and founding partner at Empirica Research, contradicts the conventional wisdom that people who are stressed-out turn to high-calorie, low-nutrient comfort food.   Link

Eating junk food may make you crave even more junk food   Today: Health (June 28, 2013) We know that eating highly-processed carb-heavy foods is not great for us. But we tend to gobble up the food and move on with our lives, telling ourselves we’ll eat healthier at the next meal. But evidence is building that, at least for some of us, our brains don’t quite work that way.  A small study published this week shows that hours after we eat a highly-processed meal with lots of carbohydrates – think white bread, or potato chips – we start to crave more of these junk foods.   Link

Impact of portion size on overeating is hard to overcome   ScienceDaily (Apr. 16, 2013) — People given large servings of food eat more than those given smaller servings, even after they have been taught about the impact of portion size on consumption, research from the University of New South Wales shows.  Learning how to engage in mindful — rather than mindless — eating also did not decrease food intake by a significant amount in those given large servings.   Link

Revealing the scientific secrets of why people can’t stop after eating one potato chip   ScienceDaily (Apr. 11, 2013) — The scientific secrets underpinning that awful reality about potato chips — eat one and you’re apt to scarf ’em all down — began coming out of the bag today in research presented at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society…the results shed light on the causes of a condition called “hedonic hyperphagia” that plagues hundreds of millions of people around the world.  “That’s the scientific term for ‘eating to excess for pleasure, rather than hunger…recreational over-eating that may occur in almost everyone at some time in life. And the chronic form is a key factor in the epidemic of overweight and obesity that here in the United States threatens health problems for two out of every three people.”   Link

Ancient systems in the brain drive human cravings    CBC News (Jan. 2, 2013) by Kelly Crowe – What’s biologically valuable, such as food, water, a sexual partner or social companion, drives the brain’s dopamine system, Richard Beninger tells CBC’s Kelly Crowe.   Neuroscience is the new black, when it comes to fashion in scientific research…Increasingly scientists also believe food can hijack the brain’s reward system. At York University, Professor Caroline Davis is studying the biological basis of food addiction. She says the brain’s reward system can be particularly sensitive to highly processed food with combinations of salt, sugar, fat and flavours found nowhere in nature.   Link

Are bacteria making you hungry?   ScienceDaily (Dec. 19, 2012) — Over the last half decade, it has become increasingly clear that the normal gastrointestinal (GI) bacteria play a variety of very important roles in the biology of human and animals. Now Vic Norris of the University of Rouen, France, and coauthors propose yet another role for GI bacteria: that they exert some control over their hosts’ appetites. Their review was published online ahead of print in the Journal of Bacteriology. … link

Craving carbs on an empty stomach   New York Times:  Well (Jun. 26, 2012) by Anahad O’Connor – Have a habit of skipping meals? A new study shows that people who sit down to eat after an overnight fast are more likely to ignore protein, fats and vegetables and head straight for high-calorie carbohydrates and starches first.  The news may not come as a surprise to long-term dieters, or anyone used to bingeing … Link

Viewing images of high-calorie foods brings on high-calorie cravings, research finds  ScienceDaily (June 25, 2012) — You’re minding your own business when a food craving suddenly hits, and if you just saw an image of a cupcake, or consumed a sugary soda, that may be no accident.  Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC)  … [found] that viewing pictures of high-fat foods and drinking sweetened beverages while viewing the pictures stimulate appetite and reward centers in the brain.  Link

How exercise can prime the brain for addiction  New York Times (Apr. 11, 2012) by Gretchen Reynolds – Statistically, people who exercise are much less likely than inactive people to abuse drugs or alcohol. But can exercise help curb addictions? Some research shows that exercise may stimulate reward centers in the brain, helping to ease cravings for drugs or other substances. But according to an eye-opening new study of cocaine-addicted mice, dedicated exercise may in some cases make it even harder to break an addiction.  Link

Got a sweet tooth? Here are some tips on how to conquer it   National Post  (Mar. 30, 2012) – Whether you are struggling with bingeing or are simply wondering how best to manage cravings for junk food, you have choices.  Link

Constant cravings:  One in five of us skip breakfast or lunch, and the more we slip, the worse we feel (Sept. 15, 2011) by Kate Lunau – Rushing out the door in the mornings, it can be hard to find the time for a decent breakfast, let alone a cup of coffee. According to results from the Symptom Profiler (formerly known as the Q-GAP), an online survey completed by over 29,000 people in 2010-11, skipping meals is fairly common: 23.5 per cent sometimes miss their morning meal; another 6.5 per cent never eat it; 20.6 per cent skip lunch occasionally; and 8.3 per cent miss dinner. But those who skipped meals in this survey also reported more negative symptoms than those who always ate three a day­—and the more meals skipped, the worse shape they were in.  Link

Eat a protein-rich breakfast to reduce food cravings, prevent overeating later, researcher finds  ScienceDaily (May 19, 2011) — A University of Missouri researcher has found that eating a healthy breakfast, especially one high in protein, increases satiety and reduces hunger throughout the day. In addition, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) the researchers found that eating a protein-rich breakfast reduces the brain signals controlling food motivation and reward-driven eating behavior.  Link

Chocoholic mice fear no pain  ScienceDaily (Feb. 11, 2010) — Ever get a buzz from eating chocolate? A study published in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience has shown that chocolate-craving mice are ready to tolerate electric shocks to get their fix.  Link

Can’t curb your enthusiasm for food? Blame the brain  CBC News: Food (Apr. 30, 2009) — Next time you give in to that craving for a chocolate bar as your energy levels take a mid-afternoon dip, you could be justified in saying that your brain made you do it. A new study published in the May 1 issue of the journal Science concluded there are differences in the brains of people who are good at controlling their urges versus those who find it almost impossible . . .The research was conducted by scientists at the California Institute of Technology. The study involved dieters, but the scientists say their findings could also be applied to addictions, illegal behaviour and risky financial decisions since each involves willpower.   Link

Rats show the perils of sugar addiction, researchers say  CBC News (Dec. 10, 2008) — Sugar can be addictive, wielding power over the brains of lab animals much like a craving for drugs, according to Princeton University scientists who say their findings may eventually have implications for the treatment of humans with eating disorders.  Psychologist Bart Hoebel and colleagues at the university’s Neuroscience Institute have studied what they call sugar addiction in rats for years.  They say their rats have met two of the three elements of addiction — they show a pattern of increased intake and then signs of withdrawal. But Hoebel’s most recent experiments also demonstrate a third element — craving and relapse.  Link

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