Answered by Louise Jarvis on Monday, October 19, 2009
While "the answer to that has not been tested scientifically," says biological psychologist Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., an expert on cravings at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, "my view is that it's better to have a serving of the food that you crave rather than really trying to resist it." She cites clinical reviews, which argue that deprivation leads to craving and craving leads to binging. Pelchat says that the common craving for those foods that are high in sugar and fat and low in nutrients (think Krispy Kreme doughnuts) can be extinguished by "a serving size that is satisfying and yet moderate in proportion"—like a scoop. And a recent MIT study showed that these indulgences might feed more than your stomach: Researchers found that levels of brain seratonin, that feel-good chemical, can be increased by consuming carbohydrates, although the findings don't explain why we crave one carb (like chocolate) over another (like rice). Monell's own research indicates that people on dull diets have quadruple the rate of food cravings as people on varied diets. "It's possible that you have to get bored before an increase in cravings occurs," says Pelchat.