First, there's a physiological component, suggests research from Brian Wansink, Ph.D., author of Mindless Eating. Cravings are most likely embedded deep in our DNA; when we indulge a craving, the body releases a surge of feel-good brain chemicals called opiates. No wonder we keep coming back for more!
There's also a social aspect to cravings. Dr. Wansink found that cravings for comfort foods vary by gender, thanks to a slew of genetic and social cues. For example, men tend to be attracted to meal-type foods like burgers, steak and pizza. Men say these foods make them feel taken care of, like they're the center of attention.
Women, on the other hand, are more apt to experience hankerings for snacks and desserts—foods that require little preparation or work. You probably won't be surprised by the list of foods most commonly craved by women: chocolate, salty snacks and ice cream (in that order), according to a study from Tufts University in Boston. The good news is that you're not powerless over the urges, and you don't have to totally deny them, either.
Follow these rules to stay in control of your cravings