Have you always wondered why we crave unhealthy food? And why those "Naughty" junk foods are just so tantalizing and oh-so-good? Read on to find out!

Why We Crave Unhealthy Food - Asian girl looking at frosted doughnuts on table

Image credit: HowStuffWorks

You’ve read the articles and heard the advice. You want to eat healthy, but you just can’t get your mind off those deliciously “Naughty” junk foods you’re not supposed to be eating! Don’t worry, nothing’s wrong with you – we all have our diet temptations! Here’s a few possible reasons why we crave unhealthy food – despite your best intentions to eat “Nice” instead!

Our Brains Are Wired That Way

Why We Crave Unhealthy Food - Various food from each food group in the shape of a human brain

Image credit: Harvard Health

Biologically, humans crave energy-dense food and minerals. This dates back way before grocery stores and food manufacturing and convenience meals, to a time when food was scarce and you needed all the energy you could get.

As a result, we crave foods that contain carbohydrates (easy energy) and fat (long-lasting energy for storage). We also crave salt because it’s a mineral that used to be hard to find when all food was fresh and non-processed. And of course, because it simply made food taste good!

We don’t have the same need now for high-energy and high-salt foods. Unfortunately, our bodies haven’t caught up yet, resulting in the cravings we know so well!

We Don’t Fill Up At Regular Meals

Why We Crave Unhealthy Food - Half a sandwich on a plate with two strawberries

Image credit: Livestrong

Cravings can also happen when the meals we eat are lacking in satiety or satisfaction. Perhaps because we’re trying to practice portion control, or we’re eating foods that are ‘healthy’ but just not very exciting. The less satisfied we are with a meal, the more likely we are to be rummaging in the refrigerator a short while later.

The best way to get around this is to make sure the healthy meals we eat are well-balanced in nutrition and exciting in terms of taste. For example, eating only a salad composed of just leaves is way more likely to cause cravings than a salad full of greens, protein sources (beans, lean meat, nuts), healthy fats (avocadoes, nuts, olive oil), and lots of flavour (vinegar dressings, fresh herbs, fresh fruit).

We Think of “Naughty” Foods as Off-Limits

Why We Crave Unhealthy Food - Hands pushing away sandwich with meat, cheese, and vegetables

Image source: corecare.ca

The more we think of “Naughty” foods as not allowed in our diets, the more we want it. There’s something especially tantalizing about ‘forbidden’ food, isn’t there? And that is manifested strongly in the cravings we experience. The more off-limits the food is, the more we think about it and wish we could eat it. And when we do, the guilt we feel is real.

We also tend to use “Naughty” food as rewards – if you did well at a work meeting, you reward yourself with a sugary coffee. If you ate really healthy at lunch, you tell yourself you ‘earned’ a doughnut at teatime. If you spent half an hour at the gym, you figure you deserve an ice-cream cone. As a result, these “Naughty” foods become associated with happiness and achievement. Of course, this is not the best connection when we’re trying to get rid of cravings!

So instead of trying to avoid “Naughty” foods completely, why not accept and understand why we crave unhealthy food - and do something about it? This Christmas season, we invite you to indulge in “Naughty”-tasting food – that’s actually good for you! Our Naughty Made Nice Christmas Specials are all festive treats that taste indulgent, delicious, and satisfying – but are made of wholesome, real ingredients and superfoods to feed your body and soul.

Amazin' Graze's Naughty Made Nice Christmas Specials Range

So what are you waiting for? Join us in eating “Naughty” this Christmas…with zero guilt!