When your body has an unnatural desire for something, it is often telling you that it is missing something. Usually, it is a nutrient or mineral that your body is lacking.
Sometimes it may be a force of habit or it could be an addiction. Brain chemistry has a large role to play here too. In certain instances, it may even be the lifestyle you are accustomed to.
It is critical to be sensitive to your body’s signals and to try to find healthier alternatives to your food cravings. If you continue to indulge in these choices, you could end up with health problems. Diabetes and high blood pressure are some of the typical examples.
However, if you already have a health condition, it could get worse. If the craving is a sign of a mineral deficiency, the situation could cause other illnesses.
You need to get to the root cause of your cravings so as to fight poor health and avoid weight gain.
The Meanings of Common Food Cravings
1. Starchy foods like white bread, pasta, potatoes, and other baked carbs
If you feel like eating starches all the time, it could be a sign that your blood sugar is out of balance.
When you eat carbohydrates, they are digested into glucose and usually increase your blood sugar almost instantly.
Your cells may not get the glucose they need to function because of insulin resistance. This means insulin (the hormone that makes cells absorb glucose) is not doing its work. The cells would always feel deprived of glucose and your brain will prompt you to crave glucose from starch.
Apart from insulin resistance, it could be that your blood sugar is unstable because you do not eat balanced meals. Ensure you have all the nutrients your body needs.
It could also mean that you’re eating very little food and have no energy. Replace simple carbohydrates with low glycemic and fiber-rich carbs to fight this craving.
2. All types of foods
There are times when you can’t pin down one food as the object of your craving. If you constantly want to eat all types of food, it may be a sign of dehydration.
You can ascertain that dehydration is the problem when you feel dizzy, have a headache and produce little urine or sweat.
Sometimes it may be boredom, negative experiences or a habit of overeating. You could be using food as a pacifier.
3. Sugar: sweets, cookies, cake, donuts, and other desserts
You could have a craving for sweet things because you have a sugar addiction. In this study, it was shown that sugar activates the same reward system as cocaine and also the same withdrawal symptoms.
When you take sugary treats, you experience euphoria because of the release of dopamine. Your brain would thus keep seeking for more of this sensation through these cravings.
Then again, it may be that you have worked out and depleted the glycogen (how glucose is stored) levels in your body. If you skip meals, it reduces blood sugar levels. Stress and lack of sleep also trigger the need for sugar.
Ice is not really a food but many people develop a craving for it. This could be a sign of anemia, which is essentially iron deficiency. The condition is called pica and may manifest as a craving for dirt, stones, paper, soap or other non-food items.
Women with heavy menses or those who are pregnant may experience this. You may also desire ice if your metabolic rate increases and you feel too hot.
5. Fatty foods like potato fries, cheese, chicken, and other deep-fried meals
Fat has a similar biochemical effect as sugar. If taken in concentrated levels, it stimulates endorphins and dopamine thus leading to an addiction.
You need a certain level of fat but when it is overdone, it may cause you to binge. In other situations, you may crave fatty foods because you have a deficiency. This stems from certain low-carb diets which cause your body to use your fat reserves for normal functioning.
Sometimes it could be a shortage of adrenal hormones or deficiency in dopamine and endorphins.
Intestinal parasites also cause fat cravings. Consume healthy fats like dairy, nuts, and avocado as an alternative.
The most common reason for coffee craving is caffeine addiction. You may also be stressed and anxious, so the chemical in coffee could be your crutch.
Iron deficiency could be another reason. You may also be alleviating the headaches that come from caffeine withdrawal as shown in this study.
7. Red meat such as beef burgers, bacon, and steak
Most people crave red meat because they are iron deficient. You can tell that this is the case if you’re always tired.
You may also have a vitamin B12 deficiency as the latter nutrient is only present in animal protein. Persons with hand tingles and beef cravings often have this deficiency.
If you fall sick all the time you may not have zinc as it causes a weakened immunity. When the craving is accompanied by weak nails, you may not have enough protein in your body. People with muscle injuries are also susceptible to this craving.
8. Salty snacks like potato chips, popcorn, and pretzels
This is a sign that you have an electrolyte imbalance or that the amount of sodium in your body is not enough.
If you have nausea, confusion, fatigue and seizures then you may have a challenge. It may also be Addison’s disease, stress, pregnancy or PMS.
9. Spicy food
If you feel an urge to eat spicy food, you may have an affinity for high temperatures.
In this study, it was shown that the chemical capsaicin, which is what makes peppers spicy tends to induce thermogenesis. The latter term refers to how cells produce heat from energy.
In hibernating animals, it helps to keep them warm. In human beings, spicy meals increase our metabolism and make us feel hotter.
It may also be an endorphin issue that triggers a ‘high’ similar to what you get after running.
10. Soda and carbonated drinks
You may have a craving for carbonated drinks because of the sugar content in them.
Alternatively, it may be an electrolyte imbalance. Some sodas have sodium like club sodas, so you may be secretly seeking to regulate this substance.
Also, sodas like coke have caffeine, which may also be something you’re addicted to.
Chocolate warrants its own category separate from sugar because it has other craving-inducing ingredients. Therefore, you may be looking for more than just sugar. It could be a magnesium deficiency as shown in this study.
It may be to lessen anxiety, stress, and depression. Chocolate also has caffeine, which as mentioned earlier is addictive.
Finally, it may be sugar caused by a sugar addiction or a temporarily low level of blood sugar caused by hunger.
12. Ice cream
If you find yourself craving ice cream it could be heartburn. The dairy in the ice-cream soothes the pain.
It could also be the overconsumption of anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin.
Finally, it may be lethargy and heat. You may be seeking the cooling effect and energy boost from the sugar in it.
The Bottom Line
It is important to avoid feeding your cravings. Find out what could be the underlying cause and deal with it. Use healthier alternatives to cope with deficiencies.
Finally, ensure that your lifestyle habits do not fuel addictions to these foods. And don’t give in to cravings immediately they kick in, distract yourself with short home workouts to see if the cravings disappear.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="4"]