This Is What Your Food Cravings Actually Mean

I’m sure you’re said something like this before: “Man, I totally have a craving for _______.” Usually we’re craving foods we shouldn’t be eating, unhealthy junk foods. Rarely will someone say they’re craving a piece of fruit or some veggies. Maybe that’s because those things don’t taste as good, but it turns out that cravings also have a lot to do with what’s going on inside our bodies.

This is what some of the most common cravings mean.

1. Sweets

If you find yourself craving something sweet, like candy, donuts, cookies, ice cream, or something else, it could mean that you actually need to get a little more sleep. In 2018, the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition did a study that found that when people got more sleep, the amount of sugar they consume decreased. Of course, sometimes you just really want a donut, but it might be worth asking yourself how tired you are before indulging.

2. Soda

Craving soda can be a hard one to kick, because there aren’t a lot of similar foods that could satisfy that craving. As it turns out, though, a craving for soda might actually mean a craving for caffeine. If you keep up a habit of a soda a day and then end up missing one, odds are your body is searching for that caffeine hit. That being said, craving soda could also mean you have a calcium deficiency. It’s less common, but a study in 2017 showed that drinking soda every day can leach calcium and magnesium from your bones, which then leads your body to be depleted but also crave it.

3. Water

Obviously craving water means you’re thirsty, so keeping on top of your water intake is a good idea. That being said, if you find yourself drinking a ton of water and still feeling parched, it could mean a bigger issue like diabetes. Frequent urination and constant thirst could be signs that your insulin levels aren’t good, which means extra glucose is building up in your blood. Your kidneys then have to work overtime to process it all, and then when they can’t keep up, it’s expelled through urine and then makes you thirsty.

4. Potato Chips

Potato chips, and even french fries, are extremely common cravings (especially on weekends). Some people think it just means you’re craving salt, but it could actually mean your body is low on healthy fats. Healthy fats come from nuts, olive oil, or avocados.

5. Ice

Have you ever had a desire to eat ice? Just crunch down on an ice cube? It could mean that your body is lacking iron. In 2016, the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners ofund that ice cravings are a form of pica, which is a desire to eat non-food items, and can be linked to low iron levels. The researchers in the study found that chewing ice could temporarily increase blood flow to the brain, which then counteracts the anemia for a short while.

6. Kettle Corn

Kettle corn is a delicious salty-sweet treat, and when you crave something salty and sweet, it could mean that your body needs electrolytes. It’s possible that you’ve sweat a lot or have been exercising, which causes your body to lose sodium and glucose. That’s why drinks like Gatorade and Powerade often have a lot of both sugar and salt.

7. Pretzels

Craving pretzels could mean something a lot more serious than anything else we’ve talked about. This craving could be a sign of Addison’s disease or Bartter’s syndrome, even more so if it’s coincided with exhaustion, weight loss, and skin discoloration.

8. Chocolate

Chocolate is my most common craving. You could but chocolate in front of my any time and I would never say no. Apparently craving chocolate means you could be depressed. It contains magnesium and theobromine, which are both compounds that can reduce your stress levels and help relax your muscles, which is why it could end up helping feelings of depression. A study found that people who ate dark chocolate in a 24-hour period were 57% less likely to feel the symptoms of depression, compared to those who didn’t.

9. Cheese

You know how after thanksgiving you feel exhausted because of all the turkey you ate? That reason for that is the same reason we love cheese. Cheese contains l-tryptophan, just like turkey, which makes you feel happy and relaxed. If you find that you’re craving foods that are full of cheese, it could mean that you need a little relaxation time. That being said, constantly craving cheese could also be a sign of concentration and memory issues. A study in 2015 found that people with ADHD were twice as likely to crave cheese as those without.

10. Anything

Craving anything in general could all be summed up to one thing: you need to drink more water. Most people aren’t hydrated enough, and cravings can be our bodies’ way of telling us to drink water.

“We often misinterpret the signals our body is giving us,” says Taylor Newhouse Leahy, RD, a clinical dietitian at Baylor Scott & White Hospital. “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.”

What are your most common cravings?