Human bodies are weird. Sometimes, you feel an insatiable need for doughnuts, and other times you feel like you could eat a whole tub of sauerkraut. It makes no sense; a craving can start as a tiny inclination towards a certain food and quickly grow into a nagging need that refuses to subside. Until, of course, you give in.
Lots of times, especially when a person experiences a craving for a food they think is unhealthy, those cravings are aggressively suppressed. Like trying to hold an inflated soccer ball underwater, the craving — once forgotten about — inevitably bobs back up to the surface. The attempt at suppressing the need for a certain food only causes the desire to return more forcefully, fueling a vicious cycle of frustration and a lack of satiation.
The best way to get rid of a craving is to indulge in it without judgment. Take the negative label off the food and it will no longer possess that “forbidden fruit” quality that made the food so attractive in the first place.
This makes a potato chip craving something we can understand. But some cravings seem to make no logical sense. From the usual to the unusual and the seriously weird, here are 15 food cravings, explained.
These slabs of juicy, red meat are loaded with iron, protein, and zinc. Iron and zinc deficiencies are all too common in the United States, especially for women. Especially after their periods, women often lack the levels of iron they need for sufficient blood health. Additionally, if you’re craving a burger, you might just need a nourishing meal of protein and carbs. Have you been expending a lot of energy lately? Pair your juicy, satisfying burger with a side of vegetables to make the meal ultra-nourishing.
Candy is a fun food, albeit filled with sugar. If you’re feeling tired, sluggish, or weak alongside your candy craving, you might want to consider your blood sugar. Perhaps your blood glucose has taken a nosedive for some reason or another. Your body, in response, is going for the quickest energy it can get its hands on — sugar.
However, if your blood sugar is truly suffering, slow-digesting carbs are a more permanent solution. When your body runs through sugar, it goes through it quickly — leaving you in the exact same situation with the exact same craving just minutes later.
Creamy, greasy goodness comes with each dense bite of this crave-worthy food. Whether it’s melted over pizza, pressed between two buttery bread slices, or just eaten plain, there’s no denying that cheese is an instigator of some forceful desires.
Cheese is a fatty food, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The full-fat variety is actually the healthiest, least processed kind of cheese — and the one that will feel the most satisfying to consume. If you’re craving cheese, you might not be eating enough fats.
You also might be in need of some vitamin D. Cheesy comfort foods get more appealing in the dark winter months for a reason! Other foods with vitamin D include eggs, almond milk, yogurt, and salmon.
If you’ve ever experienced this craving, you’re not alone. There are whole forums on the Internet dedicated to ending the dreaded craving for General Tso’s — though you’d never find that dish in China. We aren’t completely sure why the cravings are so intense, but it seems logical. Chinese food is often high in sodium and is incredibly flavorful. Sodium cravings are common, especially if you’re dehydrated. Why not satisfy that need with a vat of lo mein?
Additionally, chocolate is generally frowned upon as an indulgent, calorie-dense food — and if you think of it as something that’s bad for you, you’re going to crave it. Eating a chunk feels delightfully rebellious, prompting you to reach for that emotional reward again and again. To cure your addiction, let yourself have chocolate when you want it. It actually comes with a whole host of health benefits that are completely underrated.
Are you feeling nostalgic? Perhaps something reminded you of a birthday party with family or a fun event with friends. When we remember a time we previously enjoyed a delightful baked good, we’re likely to want it again.
Alternatively, you could be associating a baked good with some type of reward. An “if I do well, then I get a cookie” kind of association from childhood. Have you been working really hard? Have you been caught up in a never-ending to-do list of tasks with no rewarding end in sight? You might be in need of a desperate “treat yourself” moment. Take a break, indulge in something delicious, and move on.
Fries are like the body’s ultimate energy source. They’re a fried, crispy plate of carbohydrates and fats — and they taste damn good.
Your body is smart. It knows that plate is going to give it a whole lot of lasting energy (though it might not be so easy to digest). If you’re sleep-deprived, overworked, stressed, or otherwise taxed, you’re more likely to crave this delicious energy reservoir. If you’ve let yourself go hungry for a long period of time, your body is also more likely to crave these carbs — it’s going for as much as it can get.
Sometimes, chomping down on a crunchy slab of ice sounds oddly appealing. There’s actually a weird psychology behind these cravings for a cold crunch, and there’s a name for it, too — pagophagia. It’s often a sign of a psychological upset such as stress, obsessive compulsive disorder, or a developmental disorder. If the latter two don’t apply, you could just be stressed out and in need of an outlet.
Alternatively, ice cravings could be indicative of an iron deficiency. Otherwise known as anemia, iron deficiency is extremely common and can be remedied either with iron supplements or with iron-filled foods like spinach or red meat.
Though this seems counterintuitive, the cool, creamy bites of ice cream could be a sign of stomach upset or trouble digesting. Ever finish a large, dense meal only to crave the ice cream waiting in the freezer? The dessert acts as a warrior against heartburn and stomach acidity — so eating it could do your digestion a favor.
The ultimate comfort food, pasta is loaded with high-energy carbs. There’s a reason runners carb-load on the stuff before a big race. It’s nourishment for your body that lasts till the day after. If you’re craving it, you could be lacking nutrients or calories.
In the winter, the cravings get especially strong because your body has to work harder to keep warm (yes, even under all those coats). Pair your pasta with some healthy fats (olive oil or an avocado-based sauce are good options) and vegetables, alongside a complete protein like meat or beans. If you skimp on those meal essentials, you’ll likely experience a spike in blood sugar and miss out on all that lasting energy.
the creamy spread? You’re not alone. The irresistibility of peanut butter is the reason those single-serving packets are so popular, despite the upcharge. For consumers, the portion control is worth the price.
Though you might think a low-fat diet would be the culprit behind your craving, a low-carb diet is actually more likely to cause one. When you restrict yourself from carbs, you crave sweets. And when you don’t allow sweet foods, peanut and almond butters start to taste sweeter. Paleo and Whole 30 dieters often report binges on various types of nut butter. This blogger and this blogger both confess to a lack of control around a jar of nut butter while low-carb dieting.
This crunchy snack is high in sodium, flavor, and probiotics. So if you’re dying to chow down on a gherkin, you could be in need of any one of these things. The sodium craving could be indicative of dehydration — when you eat more sodium and then drink water, you’re better able to absorb it. Pickles are great for your gut health and digestion, too, as are these 15 foods.
Soda, especially diet soda, is loaded with chemicals. Unlike the other normal foods on this list, soda is laden with chemicals that could be triggering your craving. The sweeter-than-sugar sweeteners and toxic preservatives could contribute to a growing urge for the dehydrating drink. The caffeine, especially, contributes to the addictive feel of a can of cola. So if you’re craving soda, the reason is simple — it’s because you’ve developed a habit for drinking soda.
Ok, we know spicy food is hot — but if you’re craving it, you might be, too. Counterintuitively, spicy food cools you down once you eat it. You sweat more, and the sweat evaporating off of your skin has a cooling effect. That explains why you’re craving heat in the heat.
Otherwise, thought, it’s likely you are having trouble with your metabolism in some way, shape, or form. This could come from a thyroid imbalance or it could be from one too many sugary snacks — but regardless, spicy food gives your metabolism the jolt to life it’s been craving. Eating something with spice has a full-body effect, even releasing endorphins. It’s possible your body just needed to feel the rush.
Obviously, alcohol is addictive. But if you’re not prone to a nasty drinking habit, you might just be stressed out. Wine has antioxidants that make it surprisingly good for you, and we’ve been conditioned over time to find a glass of it soothing. In fact, science shows us that one glass is relaxing — though two or more is actually stressful. There’s nothing wrong with helping your body out with a glass after work — just as long as it’s only one glass per day.