Blog Nutrition Why Am I Craving Chocolate? The Reasons Beyond the Sweet Tooth and How to Fix It

Why Am I Craving Chocolate? The Reasons Beyond the Sweet Tooth and How to Fix It

Why am I craving chocolate? It’s a question shared by many, but the answer is known by a few. You likely wonder whether it’s simply that time of the month or something you lack. You think your body may need something when you crave a specific food item, but what is it telling you? 

Why am I craving chocolate, is a common question to which you’ll find the answers here today. While no single answer can satisfy this question, you’ll have a better idea of what you can eat and do, to soothe those intense chocolate cravings. Let’s show you why you might crave chocolate. 

What Does Your Body Want When You Crave Chocolate?

The “Why am I craving chocolate” question isn’t always as straightforward as having a sweet tooth. Instead, here’s a sneak peek at what your body may need or might be trying to tell you:

  • You have a habit of eating chocolate and feel rewarded (2, 23, 24)
  • You may be hungry and want the familiar texture and aroma of chocolate (5)
  • You’re stressed and eat chocolate for the feel-good chemicals (12, 11, 23, 5, 18)
  • You crave chocolate at night because you need better sleep hygiene (30)
  • You’re tired and need an energy boost (6, 28, 8)
  • You may have a magnesium deficiency (5)
  • You may be about to start menstruating (9)
  • You may suffer from menstrual cramps and associate it with a pain reliever (16, 21)
  • You may be pregnant and experiencing hormonal and sensory changes (19)
  • You may be perimenopausal and have low estrogen levels (29)

That said, let’s understand why you’re craving chocolate, before making assumptions.

Why Am I Craving Chocolate?

Why am I craving chocolate? Craving the smooth texture of chocolate is more common than you realize. Let’s delve into the reasons behind those cravings before showing you ways to strategically overcome them. 

Why Am I Craving Chocolate All of a Sudden? Habits and Rewards

The sweet tooth debate is real. However, you may not only crave the sugar in chocolate. The USDA shows a 44-gram bar of milk chocolate contains 22.7 grams of sugar and 13.1 grams of fat (2). Saturated fat, the less healthy kind, is 8.14 grams.

Research by the University of California and others reviewed over 200 studies, research papers, and systematic reviews to determine whether sugar addiction contributes to obesity (23). Compelling evidence suggests that sugar affects the brain’s reward system.

Eating high-fat, high-sugar hyperpalatable food produces more dopamine, which feeds the brain’s reward system. Shockingly, human PET scans have shown similar reward system activations between drug users and obese subjects.

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why am i craving chocolate  

The research suggests dopamine is involved in human eating behavior and motivation, being capable of forming habits. A later review of over 100 studies suggests that while the palatability of sweet foods may have hedonic reward value, the authors disagree with the “addiction” model being applied to the causes and effects of sweet food overconsumption (24). They argue that the controls of food intake in humans are too complex for “addiction” to make sense as a model. 

One challenge in the evidence is that while positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans have shown similarities between drug addicts and obese people in human trials, these results have not proved reproducible. .

More concrete evidence is necessary, but the current reviews support that hyperpalatable sugary (and high-fat foods) may trigger the reward system, or at least have hedonic reward value. This may cause you to want chocolate for that quick dopamine fix. 

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Why Am I Craving Chocolate for No Reason? Familiarity and Hunger

You might crave chocolate for no reason. Chocolate cravings don’t always have physiological reasons. You may just be hungry or in the mood for something sweet. 

However, the chocolate’s fat, sugar, and smooth texture make it a familiar and fast snack when hungry. Another small experimental study at the University of Pennsylvania found that sensory satiation of eating chocolate may be involved in cravings (17). 

Individuals who ate smooth white chocolate partially satisfied their cravings, while those who consumed the same cacao amounts in a tablet didn’t. 

Craving Chocolate During Stress May Be a Relaxation Problem

Stress and cravings sometimes go hand-in-hand, but here’s why. Chocolate might help relieve stress. A clinical controlled study in Saudi Arabia split 60 students into groups to eat dark, milk, or white chocolate (12). Students, especially females, who ate dark or milk chocolate saw a decrease in perceived stress over two weeks. 

Another small study of 26 adults at Edge Hill University found that polyphenol-rich dark chocolate reduced salivary cortisol levels (11). The researchers hypothesized that the inhibition of 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 activity may be responsible. 

Chocolate has other compounds that may influence stress and relaxation chemicals. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences suggests chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA) and theobromine alkaloids (25). 

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Natural Sources Of Caffeine: Boost Your Energy

A review of therapeutic applications of PEA by the Department of Psychiatry in Chicago found that it may elevate mood (18). However, more human research on healthy adults is necessary because the current study included patients with psychological conditions. 

Also, dopamine is another stress reliever, and you know eating chocolate can release the feel-good hormone (23, 24). Finally, research by the University of Arizona suggested that hedonic chocolate cravings may stimulate serotonin, another feel-good hormone (5).

The American Psychological Association reports that 76% of Americans experienced health impacts due to stress in 2022 (22). Feeling stressed increases cortisol levels, which may make you crave chocolate for those feel-good releases. 

Craving Chocolate at Night May Indicate Circadian Rhythm Changes

Craving chocolate at night may be due to your need for improved sleep. A randomized controlled trial of 19 postmenopausal women at the University of Murcia examined the women eating chocolate in the morning or at night or no chocolate over two weeks (30). 

The researchers monitored the sleep cycles of the women. They found that those who ate chocolate in the evening had more regular sleep episode timing and lower variability of sleep onset. Still, the study was small, short, and limited, so more evidence is necessary to confirm whether or not chocolate might help you sleep better. 

Read more: Vegan Chocolate: Where Ethics Meets Indulgence

Why Do I Crave Chocolate When I’m Tired? The Stimulants

Chocolate contains a small amount of caffeine. Dark chocolate contains 35% or more cacao solids and milk chocolate has 20-30% cocoa solids (25). A tablespoon (about 5 grams) of cocoa powder has 12.4 milligrams of caffeine and 111 milligrams of theobromine (6). 

Caffeine is a common ingredient people crave when tired. A recent review shows that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system (CNS) by enhancing short and long-term memory and attention processing speed (28). Many people find that it makes them feel awake and attentive. 

Also, a small clinical trial by Johns Hopkins University found that theobromine may slightly increase ratings of things like energy and alertness in some people, especially when combined with caffeine (8). The physiology wasn’t well documented, and more research is necessary. 

The sugar in most chocolate products can also provide a quick source of actual energy, so it makes sense that you might crave chocolate when you are feeling tired or sluggish.  

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What Deficiency Causes Chocolate Cravings?

A theory exists that craving dark chocolate may indicate a magnesium deficiency, but the evidence isn’t straightforward. Dark chocolate has the highest magnesium concentration compared to milk or white chocolate per 100 grams (4, 2, 3).

  • Dark chocolate has 228 milligrams
  • Milk chocolate has 63 milligrams
  • White chocolate has 12 milligrams

A review of past literature and studies by the University of Arizona listed self-medication for dietary deficiencies such as magnesium as one possible reason for chocolate cravings (5). However, ,ore research is necessary to confirm whether chocolate cravings are truly sometimes due to magnesium deficiencies.

why am i craving chocolate  

What Does Craving Chocolate Mean (Hormones)?

Craving chocolate may be hormonal on many levels, but let’s look at why women sometimes crave chocolate. Almost half of American women crave chocolate during the premenstrual cycle (9). Culture may have something to do with it, but hormones are another possible culprit. 

Craving Chocolate on My Period

A girl craving chocolate on your period isn’t uncommon. Culture influences whether women or girls crave chocolate during menstrual cycles because Americans associate chocolate cravings with menstruation, more than women in other countries (9). However, there may be some benefits to eating chocolate while on your period..

For example, a small Malaysian study found that dark chocolate may reduce menstrual cramps in adolescents (16). Meanwhile, an Indonesian study suggested that dark chocolate may contain anti-inflammatory benefits in reducing prostaglandin hormones responsible for cramps (21).

Craving Chocolate (Pregnancy)

A review of past studies by the University of Albany regarding hormones and cravings found some indirect evidence that suggests hormone fluctuations are one factor that may cause cravings during pregnancy (19). One theory says hormonal changes change sensory perception in pregnant women. 

Again, familiar textures and tastes can ignite cravings (17). Additionally, the sensory changes make expectant mothers more sensitive to the potentially distasteful compounds in plant-based foods, potentially making expectant women crave familiar and much-loved foods (19). 

More research is needed on the relationship chocolate has with pregnancy hormones, but indirect evidence suggests that hormonal and other changes during pregnancy may lead to cravings.

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How Do I Stop Craving Chocolate?

Let’s give you methods to stop unwanted chocolate cravings. 

How to Stop Craving Chocolate

First, let’s start with simple and practical tips to help you combat chocolate cravings. 

Eat the Right Chocolate to Stop Chocolate Cravings!

You saw that hunger, reward systems, and habitual eating patterns may be involved in chocolate cravings  (5, 23, 24). Also, the smooth texture and familiarity bring some comfort when eating chocolate (17). In addition, you may be about to start your menstrual cycle or need a quick burst of energy (9).

Don’t panic! You can eat chocolate in moderation. Try to choose a piece of dark chocolate with 70-85% cacao solids because it has more magnesium, flavonoids, caffeine, and other beneficial compounds (4, 2, 3).  It also has the strongest chocolate flavor and is likely to hit the spot.

Besides, dark chocolate is lower in sugar than milk or white chocolate, and less likely to contribute to weight gain, especially in moderation.  A review by the Department of Dietetics at Queen Margaret University shows that dark chocolate may increase satiety and be helpful for weight regulation among obese adults in moderation (7). So, have a small piece, and enjoy the texture and smoothness. 

Get More Sleep to Combat Chocolate Cravings

Enough evidence suggests being tired may cause chocolate cravings (28, 8). Be careful of caffeine as it may keep you awake. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society agree that you need at least seven hours of sleep a night as an adult (20). 

However, the recommended sleep hours rise to nine or more hours a night if you’ve slept poorly or you’re a young adult. Also, have a small piece of dark chocolate before bed when the cravings hit too hard as it may help you sleep better (30).

Reduce Stress to Curb Cravings

Stress may be a valid reason for craving chocolate because chocolate may reduce perceived stress, has polyphenols that may reduce cortisol, and may elevate your mood with PEAs (12, 11, 25, 18). Chocolate may also increase dopamine and serotonin (23, 24, 5).

Sometimes, taking a deep breath might reduce stress-causing chocolate cravings. A systematic review of 15 studies from Italy concluded that learning to control your breath may reduce stress, anxiety, and depression (13).  

Adopt mindfulness to combat daily chocolate cravings related to stress. A systematic review of studies with a 12-month follow-up in the UK found that mindfulness significantly reduces stress, depression, and anxiety symptoms (26). 

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Try practicing progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) daily to reduce stress. A Malaysian systematic review found strong evidence across 46 studies and over 3,000 adults to confirm that PMR reduces stress, anxiety, and depression (10). 

Meditation could also help you reduce chocolate cravings by eliminating stress. Johns Hopkins University conducted a systematic review of 47 trials to determine whether meditation could reduce stress (15). Guided and self-meditation can help reduce stress.

Read more: Enjoy Keto Hot Chocolate Recipe For Invigoration

What to Eat When Craving Chocolate

First, eating magnesium-rich foods can help you combat chocolate cravings if a lack of magnesium is the reason for your cravings, and you don’t want to just eat chocolate (5). However, dark chocolate is the magnesium-rich option with 228 milligrams per 100-gram bar (4). Alternatively, the Cleveland Clinic lists these magnesium-rich foods (14):

  • Avocados
  • Dry beans
  • Edamame
  • Green vegetables
  • Nuts and nut butter
  • Oat bran
  • Seeds
  • Shredded wheat cereal
  • Wheat germ
  • Whole grains
  • Yogurt

The Cleveland Clinic says men should get 400-420 mg while women need 310-320 daily (14). Also, notice how yogurt provides magnesium. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to yogurt for a natural chocolate taste and extra magnesium boost (6, 28).

In addition, add protein and fiber to your daily meals to slowly reduce cravings in general. A small study of 27 obese men in Missouri found that a higher protein intake of 25% of their daily calories reduced late-night desire to eat and preoccupation with thoughts of food (27). 

Protein reduces the hunger hormone called ghrelin. A clinical trial at the University of California found that the soluble fiber and protein in dry beans increased cholecystokinin and apolipoprotein b48 responses in men to make them feel full and fuller for longer (1).

Eating a balanced diet with fiber, protein, and magnesium-rich foods may combat chocolate cravings caused by magnesium deficiencies or hunger. 

why am i craving chocolate  

For more chocolate-related information:


  • Why Do I Crave Chocolate When I’m Tired?

Energies are low when tired, and craving chocolate is common because it contains theobromine and caffeine (6) Caffeine and theobromine may stimulate memory, attentiveness, and alertness (28, 8). Most chocolate products also contain sugar, which provides a quick burst of actual energy. You may just need an energy boost.

  • What Can I Eat Instead of Chocolate?

A great healthier alternative is yogurt with a tablespoon of cocoa powder, which has a similar texture to stop cravings (17). The blend has great chocolate flavor, and yogurt gives you magnesium in case that’s why you’re craving chocolate (14). Also, cocoa powder has a little caffeine to wake you up if those cravings originate from feeling tired (6, 28).

  • Does Chocolate Affect Periods?

A small Malaysian study on 50 teenagers found that eating dark chocolate during their menstrual cycle reduced menstrual cramps (16). A randomized controlled trial in Indonesia suggested that the high flavonoid content in dark chocolate has anti-inflammatory properties to reduce prostaglandin hormones responsible for menstrual cramps (21).

  • Does Chocolate Increase Estrogen?

Chocolate contains a class of phenolic compounds called catechins which can act as  phytoestrogens (29). A review by NC State University described phytoestrogens as having weak estrogen-like activity, and sometimes anti-estrogen activity (29). They do not increase or decrease natural estrogen levels in the body.

The Bottom Line

Why am I craving chocolate shouldn’t be a mystery question anymore. Instead, you know why you might be craving chocolate at night when you feel tired or at certain times of the month. Determine why you’re craving chocolate with the evidence suggested here. Then, choose a method to stop craving chocolate that combats the reasons you crave it. Good health!


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Beans, as a Source of Dietary Fiber, Increase Cholecystokinin and Apolipoprotein b48 Response to Test Meals in Men (2001,
  2. Candies, Milk Chocolate (2019,
  3. Candies, White Chocolate (2019,
  4. Chocolate, Dark, 70-85% Cacao Solids (2019,
  5. Chocolate: Food or Drug? (1999,
  6. Cocoa, Dry Powder, Unsweetened (2019,
  7. Dark Chocolate: An Obesity Paradox or a Culprit for Weight Gain? (2014,
  8. Discriminative Stimulus and Subjective Effects of Theobromine and Caffeine in Humans (1994,
  9. Does Culture Create Craving? Evidence From the Case of Menstrual Chocolate Craving (2017,
  10. Efficacy of Progressive Muscle Relaxation in Adults for Stress, Anxiety, and Depression: A Systematic Review (2024,
  11. Effect of Polyphenol-Rich Dark Chocolate on Salivary Cortisol and Mood in Adults (2019,
  12. Effects of Chocolate Intake on Perceived Stress: A Controlled Clinical Study (2014,
  13. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing (2018,
  14. Magnesium-Rich Food Information (2020,
  15. Meditation Programs for Psychological Stress and Well-being: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis (2015,
  16. (PDF) Dark Chocolate’s Effect on Menstrual Pain in Late Adolescents (2017,
  17. Pharmacological Versus Sensory Factors in the Satiation of Chocolate Craving (1994,
  18. Phenylethylamine Modulation of Affect: Therapeutic and Diagnostic Implications (1995,
  19. Pickles and Ice Cream! Food Cravings in Pregnancy: Hypotheses, Preliminary Evidence, and Directions for Future Research (2014,
  20. Recommended Amount of Sleep for a Healthy Adult: A Joint Consensus Statement of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society (2015,
  21. Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial: Comparative Efficacy of Dark Chocolate, Coconut Water, and Ibuprofen in Managing Primary Dysmenorrhea (2023,
  22. Stress in America 2022: Concerned for the Future, Beset by Inflation (2022,
  23. Sugar Addiction: From Evolution to Revolution (2018,
  24. Sugars and Sweet Taste Addictive or Rewarding? (2021,
  25. The Chemistry of Chocolate – Biomedical Beat Blog – National Institute of General Medical Sciences (2020,
  26. The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review (2021,
  27. The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men (2015,
  28. The Neurophysiology of Caffeine as a Central Nervous System Stimulant and the Resultant Effects on Cognitive Function (2021,
  29. The Pros and Cons of Phytoestrogens (2010,
  30. Timing of Chocolate Intake Affects Hunger, Substrate Oxidation, and Microbiota: A Randomized Controlled Trial (2021,
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