MAXIMIZE YOUR FITNESS NOW WITH BEN'S FREE IPHONE & ANDROID PHONE APP  HOOK ME UP!

What Do Food Cravings Mean? 21 Common Food Cravings And What You Can Do About Them.

Have you ever wanted dark chocolate so much that you didn’t catch a single word during that meeting just salivating over the thought of it?

Or a burger so desperately that you were willing to drive an hour just to make sure you got it?

Have you ever left everything you were doing, and 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?

If so, then you are probably familiar with food cravings.

Cravings are not quite the same as hunger…and 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 l 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 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.

—————————————–

Craving this: Reason is: Restore with this:
COMMON FOOD
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
FLAVOR
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
SWEETS
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
STIMULANTS
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
EATING HABITS
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
MORE BIZARRE
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:

5 Powerful Calorie Control Tricks To Help You Eat Less Food (article)

5 Ways To Suppress Your Appetite Without Taking Any Special Pills or Capsules (video)

How To Stop Carbohydrate Cravings (audio)

How To Stop Sugar Cravings In Their Tracks (audio)

A Simple Six-Step System for Eliminating Food Cravings (article)

How To Fight Candy Cravings (article)

Author Tanya Alekseeva is a Wellness Coach who specializes in Raw Food Nutrition and Detoxification.  Tanya works with a variety of clients ranging from corporate  to individuals and schools. She is the founder of Better Raw and Corporate Créme in London, and travels nationally and internationally to provide seminars, workshops, detox programs and one-to-one coaching. Tanya 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!


Also published on Medium.

102 thoughts on “What Do Food Cravings Mean? 21 Common Food Cravings And What You Can Do About Them.

  1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…..

  6. 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.
    Thanks.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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?

  11. 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.

  12. 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?

  13. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  14. 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?

  15. 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?!

      1. 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 :-/!

  16. 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! :/

  17. 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?

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

    1. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

    1. Dear Ang,

      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! :)

  22. Hi

    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

    Thx

    1. Dear Vickie,

      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!

  23. 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 :-)

    1. 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.

  24. Why am i craving greenbeans?? Iv been eating them like crazy for the past week and its like i cant get enough of em

    1. 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.

  25. I crave cumin seeds, preferably toasted, and citrus rind, from oranges, tangerines, or lemons. Can this be harmful?

    1. 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!

  26. Hi 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.

    Inge

  27. 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.

    1. 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.

  28. Ben,

    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

  29. 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.

  30. 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…

  31. 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?

  32. Hi Ben:

    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! :)

    1. 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.

  33. Hi Ben,
    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.

    1. 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.

  34. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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?

  35. 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.

    1. 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.

  36. 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?

    1. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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?

      1. 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. :)

    1. Hello Every1Fitchick
      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.

    2. 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?

  39. What about cravings for dairy in general ? Sometimes I feel like I just need anything like cheese, or milk, or just heavy cream etc.

  40. 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?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *