Boy, do I love a fat slice of pizza or three. When that meaty, cheesy, tomatoey aroma hits my nostrils and I see that greasy cardboard box open and reveal those glistening triangular slices, I know I’m going to have a hard time controlling myself. Put me in front of an unlimited supply and I might just eat myself into a rather sorry state. At the same time, I know eating pizza isn’t healthy, and the stakes couldn’t be higher: This is exactly the type of food that ends up making us overweight, pushing us toward metabolic disease, sapping our vigor, and ultimately shortening our lives. So why do I do it? Where does the siren song of craving come from?
To understand where cravings come from, first we have to understand what they are, so I’ll start with a definition: A food craving is a state of heightened eating motivation that is directed at a specific food. It’s not the same as hunger, which is a nonspecific motivation for calorie-containing food in general. Craving and hunger are distinct motivations that emerge from different brain circuits in response to specific cues.
This brings us to our next key question:…
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