Cravings differ from hunger -- when you're truly hungry, a garlic-marinated steak will do, but you'll eat just about anything to satisfy the pit in your stomach. Food cravings derive from chemical changes in your body or an altered emotional state. Your desire for garlic may override natural hunger signals so that you overeat a garlicky plate of hummus or roasted-garlic-topped pizza. Understanding why your garlic cravings are intense may help you keep them in check.
Dieting and Deprivation
You may not actually be craving the garlic but what comes with garlic. If you've been depriving yourself of carbohydrates, for example, you may long for a hunk of buttery, crusty garlic bread or a bowl of pasta smothered in a garlicky sauce. As pointed out by the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society in 2007, dieting or restricted eating -- such as cutting back on carbs or calories -- usually increases food cravings.
Altered Opioid Peptides
Researchers believe cravings might arise from an alteration of opioid peptides, small molecules that your body produces naturally in the central nervous system and in glands in the body. They act as hormones and neuromodulators -- affecting neurotransmitters in the brain. Alterations in opioid peptides occur when you're stressed, pregnant or menstruating and could cause your body to crave certain foods. Your garlic cravings might be a result of these opioid peptides going haywire, making your brain and body want the food.
Sometimes, a craving comes about as a way to satisfy a certain depressive or emotional state. Emotional eating or altered moods can lead you to choose certain foods, explains a paper in a 2014 issue of Frontiers of Psychology. If you're down, seeking out foods you find delicious can lead to feelings of comfort. Growing up in a household where garlic was used liberally in cooking might mean it's a taste that you crave for security and contentment. You simply find garlicky meals hyperpalatable, and the craving is an attempt to self-medicate.
You may think your garlic craving is a result of some nutrient deficiency, but this is unlikely, reports Dr. Mike Roussell in a 2014 issue of Shape magazine. He notes that no nutritional research exists to support the concept that nutritional deficiencies can be corrected by consuming a certain food. While garlic is rich in calcium, phosphorous and selenium, your body is probably not instinctually seeking out these nutrients. Even if you were deficient in these nutrients, you'd have to consume an awful lot of garlic -- like cups worth -- to satisfy your needs.
- Proceedings of the Nutrition Society: The Psychology of Food Craving.
- Alcohol, Health and Research World: Opioid Peptides
- Appetite: Food Cravings, Endogenous Opioid Peptides, and Food Intake: A Review
- Frontiers in Psychology: Mood, Food, and Obesity
- HHS Author Manuscripts: Stress and Eating Behaviors
- Shape: Ask the Diet Doctor: Cravings and Nutrient Deficiencies
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Garlic, Raw