Craving specific foods often indicates that your body is trying to send you a message that has something to do with your current state of health. Your food cravings may be telling you something about your body. Since most cravings people experience are for junk foods like candy, pizza, and donuts, suffering cravings regularly can lead to weight gain and health problems like type two diabetes and heart disease.
Do you find yourself frequently experiencing cravings? Here’s a look at what food cravings might mean for you, and what you can do to address the root cause.
1. You’re dehydrated
For many people, intense cravings or feelings of hunger can actually signal dehydration. Next time you’re craving something, consider the amount of water you’ve had to drink all day, and start rehydrating immediately. Experts say if you’re craving salty foods like chips, you’re most likely dehydrated and craving sodium to attain adequate fluid balance.
2. You’re lacking sleep
Lack of sleep puts your body under stress and throws all hormones off balance — including feel-good brain chemical dopamine and hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin. This hormonal imbalance can cause you to crave and overeat junk foods and comfort foods that make you feel happy. Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night to naturally rebalance hormones and stop cravings.
3. You’re suffering from diabetes
If you’re feeling especially thirsty and craving liquids, it’s possible your blood glucose levels are too high from consuming high amounts of sugar. When your body becomes resistant to high amounts of sugar, you suffer a higher risk for prediabetes and type two diabetes. Your cravings for liquids are your body’s attempt to flush out excess sugar in the form of waste. Reduce your intake of foods high in sugar to reduce feelings of thirst (but still make sure to stay hydrated).
4. You’re eating the same meals repeatedly
If you typically eat the same foods repeatedly on a daily or weekly basis, cravings for junk foods can indicate that your body has grown bored with your meal choices and needs more variety. Studies show that those restricted to eating the same foods daily will often crave completely foods with different flavor and texture. Keep track of the meals you eat and when you experience cravings to see if the two are linked, then experiment with new foods, herbs, and spices that can keep your palate satisfied while also driving weight loss.
5. You’re deficient in iron
If you’re specifically craving ice cubes, you may be suffering iron-deficiency anemia. Though ice cubes do not contain iron, studies show that munching on ice cubes increases alertness in those who suffer from anemia. Start adding more iron-rich foods to your diet in the form of leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes or take a multivitamin that contains iron.
6. You’re about to have a migraine
Healthcare experts say migraines are often preceded by food cravings that can occur as early as three days before the migraine hits. Craving chocolate and other sweets is a common side effect of migraines, and can indicate that migraine symptoms may happen within a few minutes to a few days. Start keeping track of the times and dates you experience cravings and migraines to determine whether there’s a link.
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Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on October 9, 2017
Karen Eisenbraun is a certified holistic nutrition consultant and writer with a background in digital marketing. She has written extensively on the topics of nutrition and holistic health for many leading websites.
Karen received her nutrition certification from the American College of Healthcare Sciences in 2012. She follows a ketogenic diet and practices intermittent fasting. Karen advocates a whole foods approach to nutrition and believes in empowering yourself with information that allows you to make smarter decisions about your health.