The Science Behind Teenage Cravings: What Your Body Is Really Asking For


Mon, June 10

Just imagine that you are walking down the street on a beautiful day and you smell a solid, deep-dish pizza wafting down the street. If you are a pizza fan, you might get the common symptoms of a food craving. Your mouth will start to water, and your stomach might start to grumble with anticipation.

Welcome to stage 1 of the craving cycle! Our bodies go through four stages before, during, and after a food craving episode. Increased attention, desire, consumption, and lastly, regret.

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Increased Attention

The first stage of the craving cycle is increased attention; this is the stage where you become aware of your craving and your brain becomes hyper-focused on whatever you are wanting. This is a major part of the cycle. If you choose to give in to the craving, you will then be led into the next stage.


The next stage is the desire you have to consume the food. This desire will increase; therefore, you will feel the need to accommodate this unquenched want. The desire might start with smelling the amazing food, and then it will grow as you approach the establishment.


This is the second-to-last stage, where you succumb to the overwhelming desire of your stomach and your mind. This is the stage where it is too late to back out. The food has reached your stomach and has started its journey through your intestines.


In this final stage, you have consumed the food that you were craving. This stage is different for everyone; it is commonly categorized as regret because most of us aren't hungry when we get a craving. You might have wanted the food because it could look like a delicious dessert or even a savory treat.

However, many times you decide to eat it right after you consume a full-course meal, which isn’t always the best. This can cause you to have some serious side effects, like bloating, feeling stuffed, and many other unpleasant feelings in your gastrointestinal system. Cravings can also contribute to overeating.

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Why Do We Have Food Cravings?

We get cravings for various reasons, and as teenagers, it's fully normal. One reason is that we are growing, and as you grow, you tend to need more food. Also, adolescence is a time when everything is changing, whether or not you realize it.

This can, therefore, make you seek comfort foods. Another common reason is for pleasure or emotional purposes. Maybe it's because you are at a birthday party and you feel the need to have cake, or you feel anxious and you're just eating to distract yourself from the stress. There are so many different reasons that vary from person to person. Your brain could easily be reminding you that you are hungry or that there is something your body is getting ready to do. Our brains know what they are doing, and we need to learn when to listen and when to resist these temptations.

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Knowing When to and Not to Eat

How do you know if you are hungry or just experiencing a craving? Well, physical hunger is a gradual thing that can be satisfied by any amount of food, meaning you will stop eating when you get full. Whereas other circumstances, like emotional eating, are quite sudden, it's a quick lightbulb sort of moment.

Usually, it's very specific, like pizza or an exotic food combination. You may also not realize when you are full since you aren't hungry. Oftentimes, there is a form of guilt that comes with it or discomfort. The key is to listen to your body. Be aware of when you get hungry and how often you do.

Problems from Feeding Our Food Cravings

Each person is different, and the way your body reacts will not be the same as how your best friends do. You should be mindful of what junk food cravings you indulge in because if you mindlessly consume every craving your body has, you can experience weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, or even visceral fat. Long-term, these effects can cause various health complications. It is important to feed into healthier cravings and save the junk food options for once in a while.


Remember, you don't have to eat healthy all the time to be healthy. You can have a treat every once in a while, as long as it’s in moderation. Everything is in moderation, and it's important to know what works for your body and what doesn't. Eat the pizza or don't eat the pizza; the choice is yours.

After writing this whole thing I'm starting to want pizza myself!

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Precious Simpson
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Writer since May, 2024 · 19 published articles

Precious is a high school sophomore in New England who likes to read and write in her spare time. She also enjoys baking cupcakes. Precious also enjoys being creative with crafts and photography. She enjoys watching the Gilmore Girls and The Summer I Turned Pretty. She is a writer for her school newspaper and she works for her school yearbook club as well.