Understanding the Cause of Your Food Cravings

    • Food cravings are normal but the intense ones may be a sign of a medical condition.
    • For example, craving for ice is not only an eating disorder called pica but can also be a sign of anemia.
    • Or a sudden, deep and urgent desire for chocolate may mean you are stressed or undergoing depression.

Food cravings are common. But if it happens too often, it may be a sign of something else. Read on to know what they are.

Ice cravings

Ice cravings are a form of pica, a compulsive eating disorder where people eat nonfood items like dirt or laundry soap and are connected with low iron levels. Theories suggest that this might be because chewing ice counteracts the slowdown of blood flow to the brain caused by iron deficiency.

Craving chocolate

Constantly hankering for chocolate could indicate stress or depression. In a survey involving 13,000 people, those who ate dark chocolate within 24 hours were less likely to experience depression symptoms by 57 percent. Chocolate also contains stress-reducing hormones like magnesium and theobromine, as well as enhances muscle relaxation.

Craving for the sweet stuff

Dreams filled with sugary treats may signify low blood sugar levels. According to a 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, as people increased their sleeping hours, the lower their sugar intake. So, ditch the candy and spend more time in dreamland.

Craving cheese

Cheesy treats are excellent mood boosters and muscle relaxers due to its l-tryptophan content. But if it’s more than an occasional desire, it may be that you’re having concentration and memory issues. People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were found to crave cheese twice as likely as others, per a 2015 study by the University of Texas health Science Center at San Antonio.

Soda Cravings

If you’re constantly desperate for the fizzy sweetness of Coke or Pepsi, it is most likely that you’re in need of a caffeine hit. One serving of Coke contains 30 mg of caffeine, enough to give you a wake-up jolt but not enough to cause jitters. Another reason for the craving is a calcium deficiency. A 2017 study in Front Endocrinol suggests that drinking cola daily can drain calcium and magnesium from your bones, resulting in an aggressive cycle of depletion and craving.

Craving fatty or fried foods

If bingeing on fatty junk foods like potato chips or your French fries is turning into a daily affair, the reason might be you’re low on healthy fats particularly your omega-3’s, says Baylor Scott & White Hospital clinical dietitian Taylor Newhouse Leahy, RD. Since our body doesn’t produce those fatty acids, we have to add salmon and other fatty fish in our diets. Other sources of healthy fats also include avocados, nuts and olive oil.

Craving the wet stuff

While dehydration is the result of not drinking enough water, a constant craving might be a sign of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association says extreme thirst and frequent urination are among the warning signs that your insulin levels are out of order. When your kidneys can’t process all of the excess glucose that builds up in the blood, these are expelled through your urine making you thirsty again.

Craving salt

If your cravings come with other symptoms like fatigue, weight loss and skin discoloration, it can signal deeper issues such as Addison’s disease or Bartter’s syndrome.

Craving salty-sweet treats

During exercise, sodium and glucose are quickly used up especially if you sweat a lot. A salty-sweet craving may be your body’s way of trying to recover physically and correct an imbalance of the mineral in the body such as dehydration or electrolytes. This is why drinks in most workouts contain a mix of sugar and salt.

Craving anything

An overwhelming desire for any food especially treats is often misread as hunger. But actually, it may be because you’re dehydrated. Tip: Being super thirsty means you are dehydrated. Leahy says, “As a society, we are chronically dehydrated. The next time you reach for something sweet or salty, try quelling the craving with a tall glass of water. You may be surprised at the result.”

Source: Reader’s Digest