The Surprising Reason You May Be Craving Cupcakes

Some food cravings are easy to decode. After a harsh workout, fries or chips or a salty soup sound divine — and that's likely because you need to rebalance your electrolytes after sweating so much (via Medical News Today). Or maybe you're tired and the only foods that sound good are ones that offer quick energy, like carbs or sugar.

Other cravings, however, are a little harder to pick apart. These are the cravings that suddenly strike for one food and one food only. If you constantly find yourself craving a specific food — especially a food like cupcakes — you might be surprised to learn the scientific reasons behind why you're heading to the bakery so often.

In 2014, The Atlantic reported on a unique study that looked at the gut biomes of various people and compared the results to cravings reported by the participants. Researchers found that the gut flora — the microorganisms that affect gut health — were different in the urine of people who regularly crave chocolate over those who don't usually want to eat it. They concluded that our gut biomes might dictate what sort of foods we crave.

Cupcake cravings might be a result of mental munchies

So the next time you want a cupcake, you might be at the mercy of your gut biome. There is, however, another possible reason for this craving. As Insider points out, cupcakes are foods associated with happy events, ones we're usually nostalgic about, like childhood birthdays. They're also associated with rewards, like the parties thrown by teachers at the end of the year or after big events like reading drives. You might crave cupcakes as a means of recreating those feelings.

In an interview with WebMD, Jane Jakubczak, a dietitian at the University of Maryland at College Park's student health center, stated that she suspects up to 75% of food choices stem from our emotional states. Whether it is stress or nostalgia, she says that we are trained from a young age to associate food with comfort and rewards. Of course, the foods we associate with comfort might be different depending on where we're from. From pierogis, to beignets, to curries, there is no shortage of delicious recipes for different comfort foods from all around the world (via Taste of Home). But for many, the taste of childhood and those happy early memories are tied up in the savory sweetness of the cupcake.