What Do Your Food Cravings Really Mean?

foo craving meanings

Almost everyone craves certain foodstuffs in their lives, whether you are a healthy and varied eater, pescatarian, carnivore, vegetarian, vegan or just plain pregnant!

Just that craving and strong urge for a certain type of food can put you into the situation of driving miles to get a cupcake and coffee that you love, or chowing down on your favorite hamburger.

The most important thing is to check out your health, as some cravings can be explained by deficiencies in your body.

You also need to be aware that many cravings come coupled with a high calorie or sugar intake, which can see those pounds (weight) soar, and put you in danger of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes.

Why do we crave certain foods?

why do we crave

There is no hard and fast rule about cravings, but certain inexplicable ones can often stem from a deficiency in a particular vitamin or mineral.

Cravings should not be confused with hunger –

hunger stems from the stomach, whilst cravings are a signal from our complicated brain function.

If you are pregnant, hormonal fluctuations will also need to be taken into account – whether it is pickles or pastrami, dirt or dishwater, there is no accounting for what can occur during the gestation period!

There is a school of thought, however. Research studies by Cornell University simplify the dilemma –food cravings are ALL about brain chemistry which can be diverted by aroma or texture – creamy, crunchy, sweet, salty or spicy, it all makes a difference to our brain receptors, and is all about satiety and what makes us tick.

Things to remember about cravings

The brain is a complex mechanism – after all, it is at the center of everything we do.

Cravings are nothing to feel guilty about – they are a natural process.

lady eating doughnuts

It’s what you do about them that can cause future problems with your health.

Cravings can be triggered by both physical and mental conditions, but take heart, you can control them with a little effort and modification.

Don’t let them control you, rise above it, and beat those cravings yourself.

Comfort foods

apple pie comfort

The most likely cravings are foods high in sugar, carbohydrates or fat, as these are generally determined as ‘comfort foods’.

It is totally natural that when your mood is down, you feel sad or depressed, to turn to comfort food to alleviate your feelings. It’s not hunger, it’s almost the equivalent of an anti-depressant drug, or an ‘upper’.

That few moments in your mouth for that taste sensation however, can take years off your life if you let cravings control you.

At the end of the day,

these sensations stem from our primitive response to pleasure and things that make us feel good

– but of course, this is short-lived, and you will shortly be onto the next desire for a pleasure rush.

Relaxation is a key to banishing those cravings.

relexation for cravings

As soon as you have a mad fancy for some kind of unhealthy foodstuff (and you know that it is unhealthy), take a deep breath and some time out before you rush to the fridge or the snack drawer.

Just those first few minutes can fight off cravings before that first piece of chocolate, or a slice of pizza go happily down your throat!

Many people recommend yoga or other meditation principles, while others feel that a good dose of fresh air and exercise soon banishes the thought of another tub of ice cream.

It’s worth a try, and the first step to helping your battle.

Not really an emotional eater? Check out deficiencies​

health check

Emotional triggers aside, if you have always eaten normally, have a happy life and relationships, but suddenly you start suffering from cravings, you should check out your health to see if there are any deficiencies in your body.

It may not be the case, but at least you will know what you are fighting against and why you may have become obsessed with certain foods or peculiar fancies.

If you are pregnant or prone to hormonal swings, you must still watch what you eat and try to be as healthy as possible.

To find ourselves craving particular foods is all part of the human condition.

Whilst on paper anything we eat is merely fuel to keep our bodies active, this does not factor in the emotional impact of certain meals, or indeed any messages that our bodies may be attempting to send to our brains via our taste buds.

More often than not a food craving has some basis in science, and stems from a deficiency of some kind of key nutrient.

This table should help you understand and control your cravings, and ultimately put an end to them once and for all.

Food Craving Meanings Table​

I'm Craving...

Which Means...

Instead, I Should Eat...

I Could Also...

Cheese & Dairy

My body is deficient in Calcium and/or Essential Fatty Acids

Anything rich in Omega 3, such as leafy green superfoods (kale, spinach, etc.), flax and other seeds, walnuts

Take it easy and look after yourself. Cheese is a comfort food, so your body and mind may need to de-stress

Chocolate

My body is deficient in Magnesium

Whole grains, fresh fruit or green vegetables, a selection of nuts

Relax, and ponder how you’re feeling. Your brain may be keen on the anti-depressive dopamines found in chocolate

Fizzy Pop

My body is deficient in Calcium

Leafy green vegetables, seeds, turnips, English mustard

Cut down on the caffeine. This is a big cause of calcium deficiency

Ice

My body is deficient in Iron

Liver, red meat, baked beans, other tinned beans and pulses, dried fruit such as prunes, leafy greens, cherries

Ensure that you’re not suffering from anemia

Ice Cream

My body is deficient in Fat

Frozen yoghurt, Avocado

Take a breath and relax – sometimes your body requests heavy fats that sit in the stomach in order to feel stabilized

Lemons & Citrus Fruit

My body is deficient in Vitamin C

Oranges, grapefruit, fresh green vegetables

Pick up a vitamin C supplement (wholefood) to be taken alongside meals – it’ll be easier on your teeth

Noodles & Rice

My body is deficient in Chromium

Fresh fruit and vegetables, buckwheat

Have your blood sugar checked – you may be experiencing insulin resistance

Red Meat

My body is deficient in Iron

Eating red meatis fine but you can also eat liver, Baked beans, other tinned beans and pulses, dried fruit such as prunes, leafy greens, cherries

Ensure that you’re not suffering from anemia

Salty Snacks

My body is deficient in Chloride & Healthy Fats

Celery, olives, tomatoes, kelp or even sprinkle Himalayan Sea Salt on a meal

Look into some kind of healthy fat supplement, such as Omegas 3 and 6

Sugary Sweets

My body is deficient in Tryptophan, Chromium, Sulphur and/or Phosphorus

Spirulina, seeds and nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables (including onion and garlic), raw cacao, cinnamon, whole grains

Get more sleep. Your body may be desperate for the quick energy spike that sugar provides

Water

My body is deficient in Water

Drink plenty of water – however…

Ensure that you are not at risk of Diabetes – excessive thirst is a key symptom

White Bread

My body is deficient in Nitrogen

Any healthy choice that contains protein; tinned beans and pulses, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds

Get your kidneys checked by a healthcare professional to ensure this not connected to a health condition

Of course, there is pregnancy to contend with. Pregnancy and slightly oddball cravings go hand in hand as the body goes through a number of changes, and the meanings of a pregnancy longing could be different to their traditional equivalents.

What Pregnancy Cravings Mean​

I'm Craving...

Which Means...

Instead, I Should Eat...

I Could Also...

Chocolate Over Everything

My body is deficient in Calcium

Leafy green vegetables, seeds, turnips, English mustard

Chocolate cravings are understandable for the comfort it provides, but if you’re adding it to a cheese sandwich you may find yourself missing calcium!

Dirt & Fresh Soil

My body is deficient in Iron

Liver, red meat, baked beans, other tinned beans and pulses, dried fruit such as prunes, leafy greens, cherries, root vegetables

Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to a condition called Pica, with causes the craving of something fresh and pure. This can be very dangerous, so tread carefully and consult a healthcare professional if necessary

Other Non Edible Cravings

My body is deficient in Iron due to Pica

Liver, red meat, baked beans, other tinned beans and pulses, dried fruit such as prunes, leafy greens, cherries, root vegetables

Pica can cause some very strange desires. Pregnant women may also find themselves craving any of the following:

  • Toothpaste
  • Baking Soda
  • Clay
  • Batteries
  • Chalk

Pickles & Gherkins

My body is deficient in Sodium

Celery, beetroots and fresh, whole milk

These are an acquired taste ordinarily, but a hugely common craving in pregnant women

Rare Red Meat

My body is deficient in Protein

Red meat, Tofu, beans and legumes, leafy green vegetables, whole grains 

You’re incubating a tiny human, so you’re muscles are going to getting quite the workout – you may find yourself often hankering for the protein fix of red meat, even if you are a vegetarian

Spicy Foods

My body is deficient in Water

Nothing – embrace the spice…

Pregnant women tend to run a higher temperature, and cravings for spicy food ensure that they will sweat and cool off

Kelly
 

Kelly C is the Editor of Hard Boiled Body. She is passionate about health, well being, running and minimalist. As a competitive runner, she has insight into the struggles of balancing work-outs with good nutrition and injury prevention. She has also had her fair share of weight problems, particularly revolving around cravings and binge eating, which she is able to give her insight and experiences on overcoming.

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