Hanson asks some important questions (emphasis Hanson’s; embedded quotes are Dr. Manejwala’s):
Why do cravings matter? Because they are the engine of addiction, and can lead people to “throw away all the things that really matter to them in exchange for a short-term fix that is often over before it even starts.”
Why are cravings so hard to explain? One reason is that “people use the word to mean so many different things.” You don’t crave everything you want, as Manejwala points out. Cravings are not the same as wants, desires, urges, passions, or interests. They are “stickier.”
I can SO relate to this! Little “c” craving — like for chocolate or for sweets or for pickles — is one thing. But big “C” craving, that’s completely different. That’s the urge that makes you go out in the middle of the night, wandering up and down the aisles of the convenience store trying to figure out what will soothe the urge while at the same time being aware of just how nuts the behavior is.
Or as Hanson so nicely puts it:
Cravings are not necessarily about reward, but about anticipating relief.
Over at Evolutionary Psychology, Emily Deans has a great post on the dark side of food addiction. Stay tuned for more on this, particularly her discussion linking this behavior to restrictive diets. Hmmm!