Why Do We Crave Junk Food?

I always find myself facing the struggle between eating what I should, and eating what tastes good. If someone were to hold up a salad and a slice of pizza in front of me, of course I’d pick the slice of pizza. I know that the pizza contains no where near the nutrients that a salad does but it’s what I love. I find myself wondering, why is it that humans know they shouldn’t eat unhealthy, but that’s the type of food that we’re drawn to? We know the food like pizza, potato chips, ice cream, and candy are not beneficial and have little to no nutrients. Yet no matter what we do, most people find themselves more likely to pick junk over healthy food. Cravings often drive me to make unhealthy choices with food.

Whether I’m in a hurry, on the go, or just looking for a quick meal, junk food is a simple choice. Most times, it’s easy to grab something on my way out the door so I don’t run late. I often grab a granola bar or something to try to keep me full throughout the day. I believe that it’s hard to package something healthy, that can last over a long period at a reasonable price. I believe that we have grown used to reaching for something quick to eat that is often not healthy and it has become habit due to convenience.

Our bodies know when we need food, this is why we receive cravings. When we need calories to sustain a nutritious diet, our body craves foods with many calories. “From an evolutionary point of view, junk food cravings are linked to prehistoric times when the brain’s opioids and dopamine reacted to the benefit of high-calorie food as a survival mechanism. We are programmed to enjoy eating fatty and sugary substances, and our brains tell us to seek them out”(Smellie). I agree with this statement because it shows how our brains often think for our stomachs. I still continue to wonder why though. Why are we programmed in such a way that we are drawn to fatty, sugary substances?

In a recent study performed on rats, it was found that over time when rats grow used to eating fatty and sugary substances, they are more likely to crave them and face withdrawal when having them taken away from them(Bryan). Though this is not a human study, demonstrating why we are more likely to crave junk, it does point us in a direction that there is a correlation leading us to more information on craving addictions. Though, in this case, correlation does not equal causation, we can see that there is more reason to look further into this topic.

Works Cited

  1. Bryan, Derek. “Reasons People Eat Junk Food Instead of Healthy Food.”LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.
  2. Smellie, Alice. “Why We Crave Sugary Snacks… and Not Fruit and Veg.”Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 1 May 2011. Web. 16 Sept. 2014.

3 thoughts on “Why Do We Crave Junk Food?

  1. jvh5620

    This is a little bit off topic of why we crave junk food but when I crave junk food it is solely for the salty kinds. Cheese its, pretzels, gold fish etc. I do not have a sweet tooth. I never care to eat chocolate. I agree that junk food is a quick choice for meals when you are in a rush. Just like tv dinners, and fast food .

  2. Abigail Charlotte Ventosa

    I could not agree with you more, the minute I start to get hungry my first thought is pizza. Interesting that our bodies are programmed to crave fatty foods. Good research!

  3. Caitlin Marie Gailey

    I found your topic to be very interesting but from a different perspective. I, unlike you, do not usually crave the typical junk foods that others seem to desire. I have found that candy is often too sweet for me and I don’t enjoy the taste of processed snack foods. When you mentioned the study on rats I decided to think about my own diet and upbringing and since I was little I did not enjoy eating junk foods, which may be why I still don’t enjoy them today. If I never grew used to eating the unhealthy foods I wouldn’t crave them, which in fact I still don’t to this day. Some may call this a blessing but as you mentioned in your post a positive to junk food is its convince, and I like you are still found unfulfilled by healthy granola bars during my long days. I may be some weirdo who doesn’t like bad foods but opposite the rats, I never got used to them which is maybe why I never liked them. Interesting topic and good research!

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