January 13, 2014
Have you ever wondered how to stop food cravings? We've all been there… Wanting dark chocolate so much that you didn’t catch a single word during that meeting just salivating over the thought of it… Craving a burger so desperately that you were willing to drive an hour just to make sure you got it… Or stopping everything you were doing, at the most inconvenient time, and during the worst weather conditions, to get to a coffee shop no matter how far, just to get a cup of coffee?
A little known fact: Cravings are not quite the same as hunger. In fact, they couldn’t be more different.
Hunger is controlled by the stomach, but cravings are controlled by the brain. Hunger is all about your survival mechanism, but cravings are all about your body communicating with you.
For example, the next time you have a craving—let's say for something sweet—you can ask yourself: “Is it just sugar I am craving? Will I be satisfied by sucking on a sugar cube? Or is it something more specific? Perhaps chocolate?”
If the answer is indeed chocolate, it is your body’s way of letting you know you may be deficient in magnesium (raw cacao is one of the highest natural sources of magnesium). If you know this, you can then find all the foods that have a high content of magnesium and slowly add them to your diet, which then gets rid of your sweet food cravings.
Of course, the list goes far beyond sugar cravings, chocolate, and magnesium. Below is a chart of all the common food cravings, flavor cravings and eating habits you may experience, the reason behind each craving and all the foods you can eat to fix the craving!
Feel free to leave your questions, comments, and feedback below the chart.
How To Stop Food Cravings
|Craving this:||Reason is:||Restore with this:|
|Cheese||Essential Fatty Acids deficiency||Omega 3′s (EPA and DHA)– Flax oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts|
|Calcium deficiency||Sesame seeds/ tahini, broccoli, kale, legumes, mustard and turnip greens|
|Pasta, white bread, pastries||Chromium deficiency||Onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, cinnamon, grapes, apples, sweet potato|
|Bread and toast||Nitrogen deficiency||Foods containing proteins, i.e.. Green leafy veg, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains|
|Red meat||Iron deficiency||Beans, legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs+ other dried fruit, seaweed, spinach, cherries, Vitamin C for iron absorption|
|Popcorn||Stress hormone fluctuations||Meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, leafy greens, vitamin B and C|
|Crisps||Chloride deficiency||Celery, olives, tomato, kelp, Himalayan sea salt|
|Essential Fatty Acids deficiency||Omega 3′s (EPA and DHA)– Flax oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts|
|Burned Food||Carbon deficiency||Fresh fruits|
|Acid foods||Magnesium deficiency||Raw cacao nibs/beans/powder, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, fruit|
|Salty Foods||Chloride deficiency||Celery, olives, tomato, kelp, Himalayan sea salt|
|Stress hormone fluctuations||Meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, leafy greens, vitamin B and C|
|Chocolate||Magnesium deficiency||Raw cacao nibs/beans/powder, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, greens, fruit, magnesium|
|Soda, fizzy drinks||Calcium deficiency||Sesame seeds/ tahini, broccoli, kale, legumes, mustard and turnip greens|
|General sweets||Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)||Fruit, high fibre foods (beans, legumes), complex carbs (grains), chromium (cinnamon)|
|Tryptophan deficiency||Spirulina, pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds, raw cacao, oatmeal, sweet potato, spinach, raisins|
|Chromium deficiency||Onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, cinnamon, grapes, apples, sweet potato|
|Sulphur deficiency||Cruciferous vege (kale, cabbage, etc), cranberries, horseradish, asparagus, carob powder, garlic, onion|
|Phosphorus deficiency||Whole grains, pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, lentils|
|Coffee or black tea||Sulphur deficiency||Cruciferous vege (kale, cabbage, etc), cranberries, horseradish, asparagus, carob powder, garlic, onion|
|Iron deficiency||Beans, legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs+ other dried fruit, seaweed, spinach, cherries, Vitamin C for iron absorption|
|NaCl (salt) deficiency||Himalayan or Aztecan sea salt, Apple Cider vinegar, kombucha|
|Phosphorous deficiency||Whole grains, pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, lentils|
|Alcohol, recreational drugs||Calcium deficiency||Sesame seeds/ tahini, broccoli, kale, legumes, mustard and turnip greens|
|Glutamine deficiency||Cabbage, beetroot, beans, spinach, parsley, vegetable juice, bone broth|
|Protein deficiency||Green leafy vegetable, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, beans|
|Potassium deficiency||Citrus fruits, bitter green leafy veg, banana, tomato, pineapple, black olives, seaweeds|
|Avenin deficiency||Oatmeal, granola, cereals, whole grains|
|Tobacco||Silicon deficiency||Horsetail herb, nuts, seeds, oats, millet, barley, onions, whole wheat, beetroot. Avoid refined starches|
|Tyrosine deficiency||Fruits (esp. avocado and banana), whole grains, oats, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, Vitamin C, vegetables|
|Lack of appetite||Chloride deficiency||Celery, olives, tomato, kelp, Himalayan or Aztecan sea salt|
|Thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency||Whole grains, peanuts, seeds, beans, green and yellow vegetables|
|Niacin (Vitamin B3) deficiency||Peanuts, sunflower seeds, wheat bran and wheat germ|
|Manganese deficiency||Walnuts, almonds, pecans, whole grains, green leafy veges, pineapple, blueberries|
|Often overeating||Tryptophan deficiency||Spirulina, pumpkin/sesame/sunflower seeds, raw cacao, oatmeal, sweet potato, spinach, raisins|
|Tyrosine deficiency||Fruits (esp. Avocado and banana), whole grains, oats, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, Vitamin C, veges|
|Silicon deficiency||Horsetail herb, nuts, seeds, oats, millet, barley, onions, whole wheat, beetroot. Avoid refined starches|
|Often snacky||No balanced diet, missing nutrients||Do a detox, substitute junk food for healthy meals|
|Crunching on ice||Iron deficiency||Beans, legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs+ other dried fruit, seaweed, spinach, cherries, Vitamin C for iron absorption|
|Laundry starch||Iron deficiency||Beans, legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs+ other dried fruit, seaweed, spinach, cherries, Vitamin C for iron absorption|
|Cigarette butts||Iron deficiency||Beans, legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs+ other dried fruit, seaweed, spinach, cherries, Vitamin C for iron absorption|
Summary & More Resources
Feel free to access these other cravings resources for more help on how to stop food cravings:
- 5 Powerful Calorie Control Tricks To Help You Eat Less Food
- 5 Ways To Suppress Your Appetite Without Taking Any Special Pills or Capsules
- How To Stop Carbohydrate Cravings
- How To Stop Sugar Cravings In Their Tracks
- A Simple Six-Step System for Eliminating Food Cravings
- How To Fight Candy Cravings
Author Tanya Alekseeva is a Wellness Coach who specializes in Raw Food Nutrition and Detoxification. She works with a variety of clients ranging from corporations to individuals and schools. She is the founder of Better Raw and Corporate Créme in London. Tanya travels nationally and internationally to provide seminars, workshops, detox programs, and one-to-one coaching and is also an author of several books, including “Purified: Complete 7 Day Detox Program”.
Did you recognize any food cravings that you experience in the chart above? Do you have your own questions, comments or feedback to add? Then leave your thoughts below!
147 thoughts on “What Do Food Cravings Mean? 21 Common Food Cravings And What You Can Do About Them.”
Any idea what craving water could mean? I don’t mean thirst (although that could be a factor too). I’ve had instances where I just go into my kitchen and start craving tap water for no clear reason (bottled water does next to nothing to help). I’ve also craved ice before, and that baffles me just as much.
The body needs water to flush foods n toxins throughout the anatomical system.
Water prevents dry skin, lubricates the joints, and feeds the muscles.
Water is essential to the human being for life.
Dehydration can cause death. Without water we would cease to exist.
Hmm.. I’m not convinced on this.
Two reasons: Some facts seem incorrect e.g. “Burned Food -> Carbon deficiency”
There is a common mistake that the black on burned food is carbon. Remember carbon (eg charcoal) burns extremely well – hence why used as fuel. If something has been burned, it will be some kind of oxide residue NOT carbon.
Also, if if the body is smart enough to crave popcorn, sweets or something modern and less natural.. why doesn’t it instead crave leafy greens or beetroot or the other ‘cure’ mentioned.
Yes there may be some weight to these concept, it’s probably not a black and white simple thing, though I suspect the main reason for craving could largely be explained by dopamine releases from the tastes/textures of food
This is a cool post, but I couldn’t find anything on there for what I’m going through.
I have been craving grapes super bad lately. I’m going through a bag a week, and that’s me holding back. If it would absolutely demolish my digestive system, I could easily find myself eating a bag a day.
I’m 19 and fem. Definitely not pregnant, I know that for a fact. Not on any specific diet, just eating as healthy as I can. I’m moderately active. I’m just, constantly thinking about grapes right now. Idk, any help would be appreciated.
Nah, nah, it’s probably not a sugar addiction. I’ve had this kind of craving before and it’s not something that can be satiated but eating any type of sweet that I’ve found (save for, of course, naturally flavored grape candies) nor by drinking something sweetened, like juice (save for grape juice and similar beverages). It’s probably something more akin to a specific vitamin or mineral deficiency.
All I crave is Dill Weed & cheese! Mostly dill and now I’m going to plant some here soon! Why am I craving this I’m only 25 and am vegan !
INTENSE schwarma cravings!!! Please help! Should I eat it when I get the craving?
So heres a confusing one. A few weeks ago I craved parsley real bad, then after 3 weeks of munching on parsley I craved raw carrots and now its red onion. Im so confused, what is wrong with my body and what is it trying to tell me? Help!!
You seem to be craving healthy food… Give in??
Anything can be bad in large quantities and not everything you crave is for its obvious nutritional value. It’d definitely be better to try to identify the cause (but, of course, sometimes your body is right and you crave the right things).
So here’s an odd one… Mushrooms. I used to absolutely despise them. And then I had a recipe with them, and suddenly I can’t get enough. I sauteed an entire pound and mixed them in with spaghetti the other night. Now I’m sitting here picking them out and eating them cold.
Any thoughts? Only other craving currently is bread and butter pickles. And I’m definitely not pregnant.
Your taste buds change throughout your life. It can take as many as 25 times of trying something to decide if you truly love or hate it..My cousin was the same way, loathed mushrooms most of her life. I saw her eating them awhile back and almost fell out or my chair lol
Love your articles -I am an 83 year old women and for many months crave RED POTATOES-I peel them, put them in microwave for 4 minutes then sort of mash them and put a lot of butter on them. I eat 3 to 6 of these every day and have found no information on this excessive craving of RED POTATOES-any suggestions?
what causes the craving for peanut butter or pickles? whats that a deficiency on?
All of a sudden I crave black olives. I eat at least a can a day. It started all of a sudden about a month ago. I can’t figure out why.
Maybe salt? I accidentally bought low sodium olives and the taste wasn’t the same. I assume my craving olives is salt now.
Pregnancy possibly? Heard this one somewhere…. Any babies since?
Ben!! I have been severely anemic for years and I went through a phase where I was put a ton of ice in a blender with some water flavour enhancer and eat it with a spoon. I had such intense craving for this and I never understood why! Now it looks like it was due to my iron deficiency. I also am obsessed with popcorn… I usually demolish an entire bag everyday and can’t seem to kick the habit. Any types? I’m currently trying an elimination diet of gluten and dairy.
Just make sure its organic and non-gmo. Thrive Market has some good options. Use this link for 25% off and free shipping on your first order… https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/ThriveMarket
More info here https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/podcast/fat-loss…
This is a great reference, thank you!
I have an incredible craving for steamed collard greens and bitter foods (in general). Do you have any idea what causes this type of craving?
For that, could be that in Ayurvedic typing, craving these foods can actually be a link to your heart health as well as excess heat in the body. Excess heat is related to anger, emotional instability, anxiety, and even insomnia. Bitter foods can actually dispel heat from the body, therefore improving the flow of energy in your body as it relates to the heart (which corresponds to your fire energy). Try bitter green vegetables such as arugula, Brussel sprouts, Swiss chard, and artichokes.
Thank you for your informative and timely response. I appreciate your assistance!
You were absolutely right… I have had the same cravings for bitters when I was going through menopause just before being put on hrt, having hot flashes etc… I ate spoonfuls of mustard and bitter orange marmalade was my friend… don’t crave any of these since on hrt.
I’ve a crazy craving for chalk sticks since I was little… Horrible, right? I devour 2-3 chalk in a go. And these cravings are irregular which makes it more difficult to get what’s wrong with me.
Can you help me figure out what I’m lacking in my diet.
This is typically something I would address with a one on one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.
I will crave peanut butter, it used to happen always during my cycle and severe when I was pregnant, well I no longer have a cycle, but every once in a while I get the craving and it’s intense? What could it be?
Have a read through the article and you will find out!
Ben, I read the whole article and the list and peanut butter cravings aren’t on there unless you are counting it as general sweets, which I don’t think it would be.
I have a few odd cravings. One is olives I can eat a whole jar in one sitting but of course I dont do that. Usually followed by dairy cravings. After that its fatty foods like sour cream, yogart, cheese and the fatty part of a stake.
I noticed that all of my cravings are high fat. I rarely get hungry anymore its just fat cravings.
I'd look into Omega 3, lipid panel and HDL/trig ratios. Check out the test here: https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/product/well…
I crave spinach, cooked with a little mayo. I eat it quite often and I drink the water from cooking it afterwards. None gets wasted.
I have been craving banana splits for the past three weeks, and I go out and buy all the ingredients to make one at home. I’ve eaten about 8 banana splits within the past three weeks, (just finished one). Why am I craving them like this? I have lupus and I received a kidney transplant 7years ago. I also just turned 50 years old. Any answers?
I can't speak to the ice cream part of the banana split, however magnesium deficiencies can lead you to crave the sweet stuff. As for the fruit, it could be your are craving the potassium in bananas.
Checkout try to increase your potassium and magnesium in take.
I crave pretzels like you wouldn’t believe. I never liked pretzels before. I also noticed that the pretzels make me thirsty and I am drinking more water than ever but my body doesn’t hold the water – I’m going to the bathroom more than ever.
Sometimes cravings for food are associated with food allergies, not just a lack of certain vitamins and minerals. The food allergy will also be associated with a weight problem. In my case it turned out to be Celiac. So, if there is a food you can never get enough of, get yourself tested for food allergies as you may have one or more and don’t get the normal symptoms associated with a food allergy.
This is wonderful, Thank you for your info
I found people who have a lot of cravings, also have lots of parasites.
So need to deworm etc…..
I get terrible cravings for frozen (uncooked) pie crust!
Hi there. I can’t smell things for about 7 years but i don’t have crazy cravings may be just once in a while. My sense of smell comes back for 2-3 days and goes away again. Do u think i have some major deficiency of something? I really need a help on it.
If you book a consult at <a href="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes, we can go into detail there. I would need to see lab testing etc, before I could advise.
Hi! My body can never get enough sunflower seed butter, almonds, cashews, or any kind of coconut product. My body constantly want these foods! I know it’s probably magnesium deficiency. However, recently, my body wants more tomato and potato products as well. Would that also be magnesium or nitrogen? I’ve been taking supplements for magnesium, Vit C, and B vitamins. My diet contains mainly fruits, vegetables, and good fatty acids. I eat an adequate amount of protein from chicken/seafood and complex carbs. I really need some help figuring out what my body might be telling me.
Hey Kayla, I'd need to go through a bunch of different stuff with you, I'd suggest you book a consult at <a href="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled.
Great post! Thank you!
I’ve had a crazy craving for raw parsley two years ago for a long period (remember asking someone to bring 5 bunches and ate them in two days) that was before being diagnosed with severe anemia (I don’t know if it caused it or no), then with medication and diet I recovered and forgot about parsley a bit.
For the last months it came back worse I think but I try to control it somehow; yet sometimes I just can’t, I would eat two big bunches a day and buy it whenever I go out.
Craving almonds?? I am finishing packets after packets ????. Please help?
It could be a Manganese deficiency. I would suggest booking a consult at <a href="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choosing 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled to go into detail there.
I work outside and in all types of weather….lately all I’ve wanted is hot pickled garlic and hot pickled corn. I want nothing else and can finish off the jars in a few days….I usually crave these when the temps are in the 90’s and the heat index is well over 100 degrees or more…..
Insight to this mysterious craving?
It could be a magnesium or chloride deficiency. If you want to go into detail feel free to book a consult at <a href="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled.
A couple of months ago I started craving peanut butter. I ate it with Celery, then with pretzels. I ate it almost every meal for weeks.
Now, for the Pat 2 weeks it is hummus. I don’t even like hummus! I crave it and eat it all day…It is all I want to eat. Again with pretzels. This is not helping me lose my weight. I try to stay away from gluten and carbs but wow! Suggestions on what I might be lacking?
It could be a lot of different things, if you aren't eating a lot of fat I would suggest it's Essential Fatty Acids you need. But I'd need to look at your nutrition. To go into detail book a consult at <a href="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled.
Wonderful list and good comments!! I wonder if there are any specific books or articles that provide the research behind this information. It’s difficult to convince some people without it.
What about mediteranean food? Or basil pesto? Everyday lately I have been craving a chicken shawarma or something with goat cheese, feta cheese, pesto, Hummus, ect.
Or I get huge cravings for sweet potato fries.
Does any of that mean anything, or is that just food preference?
A little too many variables to go through here. I would book a consult at <a href="https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben” target=”_blank”>www.greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/ben and choose 20 or 60 minutes and we'll get you scheduled to go into detail.
We are writing an article on this topic and would love to reference your blog post and list of common cravings on SparkPeople.com. Would that be okay, if we credit you and link back to this article?
That's fine Melissa – thanks for checking in!
I crave apples all day long. This started about a month ago. I eat 2-3 a day, usually gala or honey crisp.
I am on warfarin (and have been for over a year) for a blood disorder – Factor V Leiden – so I cannot eat dark leafy greens. I do take a multivitamin and B vitamins.
Do you have any idea why I would have these intense cravings?
Is it healthy to eat that many apples?
And I forgot to add – I had a whipple surgery last year to remove and abdominal anurism and part of my pancreas so i take pancreatic enzymes (Pancrealipase) with every meal. I am not diabetic.
Tough to say. Could be the pectin. Could be the quercetin. Apples are chock full of tons of stuff. Fortunately the fiber and water offsets the fructose so you should be fine!
Love this one Ben. Takes the list I was given in school to a whole new level. Spot. On.
But the thing is I don’t crave fruit or nuts but chocolate and I don’t feel satisfied when I eat only that. What can I do?
Try a multivitamin and mineral complex to "fill in the gaps": https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/multi
Hello! I’ve been craving bananas, I drink pure coconut water raw front the coconut itself. So I know I’m getting potassium and other minerals, so I don’t know why I crave them. I also have this awful ice cream carving everyday. It’s like I want to eat ice cream all day long (vanilla). I make the unsweetened vanilla almond milk at home and make “ice cream” with it. But I can’t stop! What does that mean?!
Sometimes ice / ice cream craving/chewing can be IRON so that would be one thing to get tested perhaps…
Yes I got tastes for that already. Needs taking iron with Ferritin for a while, got back to normal. So, I don’t get it :-/!
Good lord sorry for all the misspelled words. I mean to say Tested* and I have been taking** lol
Hi i crave chocolate & nuts like mad. I understand the chocolate now from reading through all the info but why do i crave nuts so much? What does that mean? & also anything to crunch somtimes. Weird! :/
usually nut cravings = mineral deficiencies!
Do you know why I crave cold milled ground flaxseed? I have been eating as little as 1/4 cup a day. I love it!!!!! Could it be harmful to eat too much?
Sure, you could be getting EXCESS lignans…most studies don't exceed 4 tablespoons per day…
THIS HAS BEEN AN INTERESTING READ. I HAPPEN TO CRAVE, FOR THE LAST FEW MONTHS, EITHER COCONUT IN ANY FORM POSSIBLE OR PLAIN COOKED SHRIMP. IT ISN’T CONSTANT, JUST EVERY FEW WEEKS. I’VE BEEN TRYING TO FIND OUT WHAT THIS COULD MEAN BUT HAVE HAD NO LUCK. ANY SUGGESTIONS?
for that I look into minerals, protein, possibly fatty acids. You want to look for the similar characteristics of both Foods to see what they hold in common.
I can eat bags and bags of candy message hearts. I actually crave their sugary taste in my sleep. Why is that? What does that mean? It actually wakes me up in middle of night.
Usually it can be mineral depletion, glycogen depletion or neurotransmitter issues. If the fixes above don't help, I'd be happy to help you via a personal one-on-one consult. Just go to https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/coaching. and then choose a 20 or 60 minute consult, whichever you'd prefer. I can schedule ASAP after you get that.
why do I crave strawberries???
It sounds like you're craving sweet stuff. Which would be a Magnesium deficiencies. Chocolate is a good source of magnesium and is a commonly craved food. Other sources of magnesium include green veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
For the last several years I crave raw parsley we have to keep 3-6 large bunches a week which I eat quickly. My husband is concerned with side effects of eating to much. Prefer curly but will also eat flat leaf.
I have arthritis…osteo and psoriatic.arthritis brought on by psoriasis.i have a leg ulcer and my hands have started cramping at night.I have started craving tomatoes and crisps….everyday I eat around 6/8 tomatoes.Can you help me ???????? Cheers.
I am only an amateur learning about nutrition but from what I understand, both of these foods belong to the nightshade family and can cause inflammation and aggravate arthritic conditions. I have learned that they cause me the feel stiffness and pain when I eat them and avoid potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant and chilies. Its difficult but the arthritis has improved greatly! Best of luck on your health journey! :)
I take alot of different vitamins
Im 62 but since i was about 10
I’ve craved lemons and limes
Sometimes my stomach can’t tolerate them so much
Any vitamins that even might help would b appreciated
The biggest consideration for you here is to take your multivitamin WITH A MEAL. I recommend https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/multi. If your meal contains fat, all the better.
Maybe you could squeeze a little of the lemon juice into a glass of pure water? This is supposed to make the water more alkaline so it will help you rather then causing you stomach discomfort and acidity. Best of luck on your health journey!
This has been helpful I always figured when my body was lacking something it makes me crave certain things but now I know I can take vitamins or eat different things. I’m breastfeeding so I have been worried about taking extra vitamins other than pre natal vitamins . I have been craving Chocolate bur it makes my baby fussy at night so I had to stop eating chocolate but now I crave french vanilla coffee, sweets like animal crackers, and I crave pretzels. For about a month I was eating bryers strawberry cheesecake ice cream every night. I crave salmon and broccoli with jasmine rice sometimes too. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks in advance :-)
Magnesium deficiencies can lead you to crave the sweet stuff. Chocolate is a good source of magnesium and is a commonly craved food. Other sources of magnesium include green veggies, nuts, seeds and whole grains. The salmon could be potassium.
Why am i craving greenbeans?? Iv been eating them like crazy for the past week and its like i cant get enough of em
Do you have any other symptoms – it could be iron or magnesium. Iron deficiency you'd also feel tired, lethargic, and magnesium you might be agitated or anxious, not be sleeping properly etc.
I crave cumin seeds, preferably toasted, and citrus rind, from oranges, tangerines, or lemons. Can this be harmful?
Tough to say. In research cited in Phytotherapy Research, scientists found cumin oil boosts glutathione levels by 700% (this is the most powerful antioxidant in the body). Glutathione prevents aging and helps your body with detoxification…so possibly you have glutathione deficiency. Totally tough to say though!
cool possibility, thanks for the insight Ben
Thanks for your valuable info.
I like to know what my body is looking for when I am craving Caramel. I don’t want sweet, just the taste of Caramel,mmmhhhmmm.
Is it carbs, fat or salt?
What about Nectarines. Once I start eating them I can’t quit. (Potassium?)
Thanks for your inside.
With sugary stuff like caramel, nectarines, etc. it can often be a deficiency of cortisol, or a deficiency in glycogen, so those are two places to start.
This is a great list! Do you have any idea what I’m missing when I crave raw potatoes? I’d never eaten a raw potato before, but one night I had an intense craving for a raw potato. I ate a few slices and felt much better. Every so often now, I get that craving again. It can’t be cooked. It has to be raw. I also have cravings for tomatoes all the time. I can have tomatoes all day for every single meal, and often do.
This can often be due to a deficiency of prebiotics (or the food for good gut bacteria) and in this case, it would be a good idea to step up intake of NON starchy veggies, since they can feed bacteria just as well as something starchy like a raw potato. Also, do a search for "resistant starch" here at https://bengreenfieldfitness.com to learn more.
Could you tell me why I have craved dried apricots daily for about two years now. I eat three or four every morning and every evening and miss them terribly when I run out. Reading backward on the chart you provided in this article, I noticed dried fruit listed as something to eat when one is iron deficient. Also, I have Restless Leg Syndrome (that is worsening) and read that iron deficiency in the brain can be a cause. Does that mean it is possible for some organs to be affected by iron deficiency and some not? I also crave carbohydrates when the RLS is at its worst, and immediately after eating a bowl of cereal the symptoms subside and I fall asleep very quickly. Thank you for your help. I’m so ready to feel better! Cyndi
Yes, iron deficiency can absolutely affect some organs vs. others. It sounds like your RLS may be related to the electrolyte depletion that can accompany carbohydrate depletion or lack of storage glycogen. You may want to check this article out: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/health-fitness/m…
Thank you for the info. I have a 12 year old granddaughter that is craving bread. She has been for about 3 weeks. She doesn’t want anything on it just the bread. She even takes it to school to eat for lunch. Her mom is concerned but she will eat other food also and make plain bread a snack. I didn’t know what she is deficient in.
Glad to help Cathy. Would love to hear how the cravings change when she starts snacking on foods containing proteins!
This is great but is such fab info, would be wonderful to have it set out better for easier printing… Not a criticism and I know resources are often tight…
Weird… It prints out very well for me and we spent time ensuring that it would. What would you change/suggest to improve it?
Daily ice cream cravings??
I would suggest that you try coconut ice cream as an alternative (I have a great recipe on this page https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/04/how-t… and look at these posts about sugar cravings https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/10/how-t… and https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2011/09/12-di…
I have been craving potatoes, most specifically baked potatoes for about a week or two. In addition, I have been craving fried chicken breast and white gravy with mashed potatoes. Its driving me crazy because the starches leave little room for other things like fruits and veggies, but I have always believed we should listen to a craving when its not obviously just a sugar craving like with cake. I don’t eat very well anymore (quantity and quality) but I usually take a raw B vitamin complex & a raw women’s multivitamin to help with stress and supplementing poor eating habits. I feel like I can’t get enough of whatever potatoes have and it leaves me feeling too full but not fully satisfied (ie, even when I’m so stuffed I cant eat more, I want to eat more potatoes). I have no desire for bananas, or any other fruit for that matter. I don’t normally eat this much because it makes me feel tired and I am a busy person, so I really want to find other foods to satisfy this craving. The only other food that I am drawn to right now is a chicken and rice soup I make that contains mushrooms, onions, chicken, garlic, a wild rice/red rice mix, chicken broth and cream of mushroom & chicken soups. oh, and coffee- love the coffee but that is not new. The only sense I can make of it is fats and carbs but I know these are not the best ways to get them. any ideas?
I think you need to look into the theory of glycogen depletion and the need for smart carb backloading. Take a look at this https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2011/08/the-h… and this https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2014/02/combi… and the question from Chuck on this page https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2012/05/episo…
why do i constantly crave pork rinds but i can barely eat anything else?
Wow… that's a new one. I would say it is a salt deficiency. Take a look at this page for some help with that – https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2014/03/regul…
What sort of deficiency might be present when craving spinach? I could literally eat it every meal right now.
The two that immediately leap out are iron and vitamin C!
My question is , would a vitmans help all of these cravings?
Yes. Supplementing with the appropriate nutrient can certainly help out. Along with eating a balanced diet, of course ;)
Thank you for your exceptional articles and podcasts. Around the time I get my period, I have really intense cravings for sugary foods like soda, chocolate, cookies, etc; really anything as long as its sweet. However, off my period, I never really crave much more sugar than an occasional square or dark chocolate. Could I be lacking some vitamins or nutrients that are causing these cravings?
Thanks in advance! :)
Magnesium deficiencies can lead you to crave this type of stuff. Chocolate is a good source of magnesium and (like I said above) is a commonly craved food. Other (perhaps better) sources of magnesium include green veggies, nuts, seeds and (shudder) whole grains.
I came across this article because I am trying to figure out why I am having major cravings for cashews! It has been going on for about a month now. Other nuts might interest me as well from time to time, but cashews are mainly what I crave. I don't think it could be magnesium because I take Natural Calm, a magnesium supplement, every day. I am also far from being low in my fat intake. I feel like 90% of my diet comes from fats! (Which you'd never know, because my skin is as dry as the Sahara Desert!) I practically pour coconut oil over my food. Anyway, do you have any insight into what could be causing this? I'm getting frustrated but I'm not sure what to do, because this craving is definitely physical and let me tell you, it is intense.
A magnesium deficiency may lead you to crave nuts, such as cashews. Magnesium is essential for proper muscle function and strong bones, and deficiency can lead to high blood pressure, muscle cramps and insomnia. An ounce of cashews provides 83 milligrams of magnesium, or 21 percent of the daily value for this essential mineral. Chocolate is another good source of magnesium and a commonly craved food. Other sources of magnesium include dark green vegetables, other nuts, seeds and whole grains.
I crave strange things like uncooked oatmeal or I could eat flour that is not mixed with anything at all. I love matzo crackers and those are just flour and water. What am I lacking? Super frustrating.
The good bacteria in the gut tend to thrive on resistant starch, which you can find in some forms in vegetables and also in somewhat unripe fruit. So if you’re trying to limit calorie intake and sugar spikes, which the foods you listed will be giving you (not a good thing necessarily) I’d eat more dark leafy greens, and even consider taking a prebiotic supplement. If the cravings go away then there’s your answer: your gut bacteria needed food!
What happens without enough of this “good” bacteria? I can go to the bathroom without issues, is it the same probiotic? Like the probiotic that’s in the yogurt Activia?
You basically get an imbalance of gut flora. You can test for this here: https://greenfieldfitnesssystems.com/product/compl…
I constantly crave fresh fruit, especially watermelon. I can finish a whole one in a couple of days but, I also go after apples, oranges, and persimmons. I am 76 years old. Help…….a dozen mangoes would be good right now.
Vitamin C is probably what you're needing! But consistently spiking yourself with fruits is not necessarily a great way to get it UNLESS you are very active and out in the sunshine a lot. Make sense? Otherwise, look at dark leafy greens as an alternate source of that C.
I am a health care aid and over the last 2 weeks, my client is constantly craving and devouring bananas. I know bananas are high in potassium, but I’m wondering if there’s another possible reason? Could this possibly be a sign that she’s low on potassium?
That's often potassium, yes. Rather than eating too much fruit, she could increase her intake of potassium-containing foods, including avocados, tomatoes, lima beans and potatoes. Foods such as flounder, salmon, cod and chicken also are good potassium sources, but are relatively low in sodium.
I usually crave spicy food. In addition to that if I eat something spicy I usually then crave something sweet (like chocolate or a cookie) and visa versa. Once I eat both, even just a bite I am good. I am very active and been working in raising my iron and potassium levels as they are off. It’s hard keeping them up as a very active mom so I eat lots of beans, chicken, fish, fruits, low and nonfat dairy (Greek yogurt, milk, limited amounts of cheese) green leafy veggies…can’t eat nuts due an allergy.
I have the same craving. Usually a handful of blueberries or a square of dark chocolate takes care of it. No harm, no foul… as long as you don't get carried away.
Great artivle , as always! :) I've had times when I feel like I am massively thirsty. I could drink a ton of water and be full of water, but I still feel like I need more. I've had some other people ask me the same thing.
What causes this? Is there an unbalance in electrolytes?
Possibly a blood sugar imbalance. Have you been tested for diabetes?
Yes, I check my blood regularly. I have to be careful with sugars, but I am actually a health nut. I am not diabetic or even prediabetic. It doesn't happen personally to me very often at all. Very very rarely in fact. But I have had some people that I work with that have had that issue.
Maybe a momentary sugar imbalance? I had read the reason a long time ago, but forgot. :)
If it is that rare, I doubt it is significant enough to indicate anything.
I had the same problem and my Nutritionist told me that it is an electrolyte imbalance. She said the body wants the water, but can not hold on to it, because of the missing electrolytes. i have to eat a tsp of sea salt. And voila, it worked.
Scrogens disease also causes this, I can’t go anywhere without a huge glass of tea, or something constantly, I finally went to a rheumatologist & was diagonosed. Do you ever have lil lumps come up under your chin on each side? Has anyone ever told you your face or half your face is swollen?
What about cravings for dairy in general ? Sometimes I feel like I just need anything like cheese, or milk, or just heavy cream etc.
Same as cheese = Essential Fatty Acids deficiency. Could also be calcium.
Where do these connections come from? Craving burned foods means more fruit needed? Take chocolate. If magnesium is the issue, why not crave pumpkin seeds which have twice as much? Or could be that we crave the sugar, fat, theobromine and other compounds that give chocolate’s drug effect?
The reward centers in our brains are not triggered by pumpkin seeds like they are with chocolate. Never underestimate the YUM factor.
While cravings might have something to do with deficiencies, it's probably not that simple like anything else in life. All the scientific studies I've read say that it's more of a psychological or hormonal phenomenon. For example, you can imagine the smell of eucalyptus and it'll help your craving go away.
In my experience dealing with a deficiency usually resolves the issue. If it doesn't, hormones and the brain are certainly the next areas to examine.