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What Do Your Food Cravings Really Mean? Surprising Nutrition Facts About Cravings

Are you constantly craving pizza and chocolate? Have you ever wondered why those cravings seem to strike at the most inconvenient times? Or why do we crave certain foods so much in the first place? Today, we will dive deep into the science of food cravings to understand why we crave certain foods and how to address those cravings more effectively.

Our cravings are our bodies’ ways of communicating with us

Many scientific papers shows that food craving could be emotional, like feeling blue or even boredom! But that’s not all. A poor night of sleep or stress could also make you crave a delicious crusty baguette. Other common causes include the body’s need to replenish energy after exercise and hormonal changes (especially for women during the various phases of their menstrual cycle).

When you’re craving a certain food, ask yourself:

  • Am I hungry?
  • Am I thirsty?
  • Am I upset?

If the answer to one of these questions is yes, then follow through with that action. For example, if you’re hungry and crave chocolate ice cream— get a healthier version, like a chocolate protein shake or mouse! If you’re bored, go out for a walk. If you feel sad, write your feelings in a journal or call a friend.

But if an intense desire for a cheeseburger won’t simply go after days, that’s probably an indication that your body needs a key nutrient.

The link between cravings and nutrient deficiencies

Cravings are an indication that your body needs a particular nutrient, and you may be better off eating more of the food containing this nutrient. The classic example is when you crave chocolate: it’s often because you are low in magnesium, but let’s see it one by one!

Sweet and carbs

When you’re craving something sweet, it’s usually because your body lacks energy. It can be hard to get through the day when you’re tired and sluggish, so sometimes, we turn to sugary foods as a quick fix. Unfortunately, this can leave us feeling even more exhausted later on.

Research indicates that carb and sweet cravings may also arise because of their effect on your brain by stimulating serotonin and dopamine production, which can make you feel happy and euphoric.

This is why it’s common to crave carbohydrates when you’re depressed or stressed out. However, too much sugar can cause weight gain and lead to other health problems like diabetes. So, if you want a boost of energy, try eating some fruit or drinking green tea instead of reaching for candy bars or soda after lunch.

Vitamins and minerals you may need:

  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium

Please check out our ‘Health Goals’ page to learn more about the benefit of each.

Fatty food and dairy

There are a few nutritional deficiencies that make you crave dairy. For example, calcium, magnesium, and zinc deficiencies can cause you to crave dairy because your body needs it to build strong bones. This is a common craving among people with lactose intolerance. If this is the case for you, try to get your calcium from leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale.

Nutritional deficiencies that make you crave fatty foods include omega-3 and vitamin B complex, which can lead to anemia and fatigue. If this is your case, try eating more meat, fish, or legumes.

Vitamins and minerals you may need:

  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin B12
  • Iron
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Selenium

Check out our ‘Health Goals’ session to learn more!

Savory foods

We crave salty foods when we need more electrolytes – electrically charged minerals that help maintain a healthy balance of fluids in our bodies. Sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are examples of electrolytes.

Vitamins and minerals you may need:

  • Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Chloride
  • Phosphate
  • Magnesium

Check out our ‘Health Goals’ session to learn more!

The Bottom Line

We hope this article helped you understand your cravings better and pinpoint what’s causing them. Cravings are normal, but constant cravings may indicate we’re not getting enough nutrients to function properly. Although a balanced diet is ideal for beating cravings, you may still lack certain nutrients. The key is to find what your body needs to keep cravings at bay.