I have found over my time period of eating paleo that when I feel really really crappy I tend to worry less about eating chocolate or potatoes or going a bit off the beaten path. I wonder if there is any research as to why we do this. Perhaps there is something that I am missing from my diet that causes me to want to splurge on sugar or starchy carbs?
I have gone through these type of cravings. Nothing like eating some pizza on a bad day. Grains release exorphins in to the blood and then to the brain that actually do make you feel better. It is similar to a drug addiction. This realization was part of the process in me better understanding my messed up relationship with food.
Food is not a drug and should not be used in that way.
First link I could easily find, would like to see more:
It's the same reason us PMS (term used loosely) ladies want something salty or something sweet at that time. As Scott said, there's certain non-nutrients in the food that our brain wants. It was mentioned on another question too, but I feel the same way when I'm sitting in class or studying. I just want to eat something, just to keep me/my mouth busy. Food is addicting!
A series of studies have reported that
a high carbohydrate meal, or diets
high in carbohydrate, were associated
with feeling less energetic. However,
after a drink containing pure sugar
most studies report no effect. Meals
almost exclusively carbohydrate
increase the availability of
tryptophan and hence serotonin
synthesis in the brain, however, a
small amount of protein blocks this
mechanism making it an uncommon
response. In many individuals, poor
mood stimulates the eating of
palatable high carbohydrate/high fat
foods that stimulate the release of
endorphins. There is a tendency for
those with lower blood glucose, when
performing cognitively demanding
tasks, to report poorer mood. In a
range of situations an association
between a tendency for blood glucose
levels to fall rapidly, and
irritability, has been found.
Differences in the ability to control
blood glucose levels influence the
association between carbohydrate
intake and mood. There is a need in
future research to contrast the impact
of carbohydrate on mood in those
distinguished because of their
pre-existing psychological and
Endorphins are natural opioids made by your own brain that make you feel good. They are the reason that opioids from poppies have the effects they do. Eating foods high in carbohydrate (potato) or particularly foods high in both carbohydrate and fat (chocolate) is a particularly good way to releasing these endorphins. Endorphins are also released during exercise (runners high) to suppress pain. Feeling down makes you want to eat foods that make you feel better, this is more attractive than running a marathon.