Nutrition Experts Revealed the Hidden Truths about 12 Common Food Cravings

What causes a person’s hunger pangs?

Your stomach is rumbling as you near bedtime. The dinner of protein and vegetables was a success… but is it really? In the end, you’re not happy. You’ve been hankering after a bag of chips all week.

Does this sound familiar to you? In many cases, you’ll find yourself wondering why you’re craving this particular food, and why now? Frank Greenway, MD, the chief medical officer of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and a professor at Louisiana State University, says that until recently, even scientists were unsure.

Recent research, on the other hand, has uncovered an answer that may represent the true sweet spot. Dr. Greenway (who has spent decades researching the science behind food cravings): “Humans used to believe they could control their hunger with their hypothalamus in order to ensure their survival. Rather, recent studies suggest that the brain’s reward system is actually in charge of regulating our eating habits and cravings.”

So much sense could be made out of this. Some of the most recent research on this topic is included in this article, along with input from clinical dietitian Taylor Newhouse Leahy of Baylor Scott & White Hospital and holistic nutritionist and AADCP-certified Katie Bressack. (According to Bressack, one well-known craving may be satisfied by reading this: Tempted by Sweets? In the opinion of a nutritionist, you may be lacking in this nutrient.)

Images courtesy of Alexander Spatari. View of a man eating a cheeseburger from within his own head

Why you are drawn to the things you are drawn to

To get you started, here are a few tidbits: Despite the fact that most people report having more food cravings at night than during the day, according to Dr. Greenway’s research, women are more likely than men to report experiencing such cravings. That your brain sees certain food items as rewards may be bolstered by this new research. Is there anything that screams “Relax and recharge!” more than a few days of hard work? what could be more relaxing than a good book and a decadent treat?

According to Dr. Greenway, your cravings can reveal a great deal about your overall health, including your mental and physical well-being (beyond the fact that you have a major sweet tooth). Food cravings can occur for no apparent reason other than that a person is starving. Other times, there’s a deeper reason for the craving. Keep reading to learn about some of the usual suspects in the world of politics.

Images courtesy of Angela Kotsell/Getty Milk and chocolate chip cookies, made at home.

Do you want milk and cookies?

Is it possible for a craving to become more classic? Milk contains l-tryptophan, a compound that enhances mood, promotes relaxation, and improves sleep. In other words, if all you want to drink is milk and cookies or a milkshake, it’s possible that you simply need more rest and relaxation.

Having a small amount can help you relax and feel better, but ideally, taking a nap every now and then will help you feel more rested.) You can learn more about what happens to your body when you nap in this article: 10 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Take a Nap.

All images are copyrighted by EJ Grubbs and Getty Images In a box, a delicious cheese pizza that’s just out of the oven.

You’re in the mood for a slice of pizza?

While dieting, have you ever noticed that your desire for high-fat foods like pizza and ice cream seems to increase at an astronomical rate There is some truth to the idea that as soon as you begin to exercise some self-discipline, forbidden foods start calling your name. Cravings may be linked to dieting behavior, according to a study published in Behavioral Brain Research in 2018.

There was an increase in “neuromedin-U receptor 2,” a brain chemical that signals when you’ve eaten enough, in a region of the brain that regulates food intake in people who are on a diet, according to the researchers. So, if you’re constantly craving fatty foods, your diet may be too restrictive for you. Check out these 5 Weight Loss Meal Prep Tips to see if they can help you stay on track.

courtesy of Chris Schneider/Getty fries and a burger

Do you have a hankering for a cheeseburger and some fries?

Everything in our modern world causes stress—from depressing news reports to the pressures of juggling multiple responsibilities at home and at work.

Chronic stress, as a result of repeated exposure to these stressors, raises levels of adrenal hormones. According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, eating high-calorie, high-fat comfort foods slows the release of these hormones. Rather than succumbing to the temptation of a quick meal at the drive-thru, consider trying one of the many increasingly popular and healthier ways to cope with stress.

ice cubes in a background photo by sommail/Getty Images

Are you in the mood for some ice?

Some people enjoy the sensation of biting into ice cubes. Anemia, it has been discovered, can manifest itself as a craving for cold beverages.

Doctors should ask their patients if they have an ice craving because it could be a sign of iron deficiency, according to a 2016 study published in the JANAP Journal. Iron deficiency has been linked to an increased desire to consume non-food items like dirt and laundry detergent, which is a form of pica. To counteract the slowdown caused by iron deficiency, researchers hypothesized that chewing ice might temporarily increase blood flow to the brain.

Bressack, on the other hand, suggests that “the act of chewing can actually release stress in the body.” What’s your take on the trade she proposed? “Increase your intake of crunchy vegetables like carrots and cucumbers.”

Getty Images/Capelle.r a bar of chocolate

Is chocolate something you’d like to eat?

It’s possible that you’re one of the many people who use chocolate as a go-to mood booster if you find yourself reaching for it all the time. More than 13,000 people were polled, and it was discovered that those who ate dark chocolate for 24 hours were 57% less likely than those who didn’t to report any symptoms of depression.

Is this possible? These two compounds have been shown to reduce levels of stress hormones and promote muscle relaxation by consuming dark chocolate. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and avocados (all of which are high in magnesium).

As an alternative, “Always look for chocolate bars with at least 80% cacao,” she recommends. “Your body needs the cacao to feel satisfied because most chocolate in the store is just dairy and sugar.”

courtesy of Cathy Scola/Getty Jelly Beans in a Variety of Colors

Have a sweet tooth?

Gummy bears with sour sugar coating are something you daydream about? Perhaps you should spend a little more time in your slumber. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2018 found that when people slept more, they consumed less sugar.

Another study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior found a link between the stress hormone cortisol and a desire for sweet foodstuff. Dietitians say that taking a supplement like this one, which can help you relax and sleep better, can help you avoid succumbing to sugar cravings.

Getty Images/HandmadePictures Cheddar cheese diced (on wood)

Do you have a cheese hankering?

So many comfort foods, such as pizza and nachos, feature cheese as a prominent ingredient, and for good reason. In addition to the cheese’s rich flavor, there are many other possible explanations for a craving for it.

Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, can be found in cheese, according to the Journal of Amino Acids. Serotonin deficiency may be to blame if your Friday night cheese board date can’t come soon enough.

Casein, a protein found in dairy products like cheese, aids in the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. In addition to dopamine, another neurotransmitter that promotes a positive mood is dopamine d1. We’re drawn to anything that produces this chemical, which includes cheese.

Another reason you may be craving melty treats all the time is that you are having difficulty concentrating or remembering things. People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are twice as likely to crave cheese as the general population, according to a 2015 study from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

Let’s not forget, however, about the creaminess. Dairy is “a super comforting food,” says Bressack, so you may notice yourself reaching for cheese or ice cream after a long day. What’s your best bet, if any? “Seek out dairy that is free of antibiotics and hormones.”

courtesy of Kiattisak Lamchan/Getty an ice-cold soda

Is soda on your mind?

Caffeine may be what you’re really craving if you’re craving soda on a regular basis, whether it’s daily, weekly, or only once or twice a month. Just one 12-ounce serving of Coke has about the same amount of caffeine as half a cup a coffee, which is enough to wake you up but not so much that you’ll feel like you’ve been jolted awake.

A calcium deficiency is a less common cause of soda cravings. In a study published in the journal Front Endocrinol in 2017, researchers found that daily consumption of cola can lead to a vicious cycle of depletion and craving.

Image courtesy of Chris Clor/Getty a mound of crumbed up potato chips

You’re in the mood for a bag of potato chips?

If you’re constantly snacking on potato chips or French fries, you may be deficient in healthy fats, according to Leahy, a registered dietitian. Omega-3 fatty acids are of particular interest. Because we cannot make these fatty acids in our bodies, we must eat them in the form of salmon and other fatty fish, avocados, nuts, and olive oil in order to meet our daily requirements.

It’s possible, says Bressack, that cravings for root vegetables like potatoes and other starches may be a sign that you need a break from your usual routine. You can feel more grounded and at peace by eating more root vegetables, according to this expert.

courtesy of pinkomelet/Getty Images | Close-up of a bottle of purified water being poured onto a table in the living room.

Have a thirst?

Your body may be trying to tell you to drink more water if you’re extremely thirsty, and you may be dehydrated. However, if you’re constantly craving the wet stuff, it could indicate a more serious problem, such as diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, excessive thirst and urination are two of the earliest warning signs that your insulin levels are out of whack. Your kidneys have to work extra hard to deal with the extra glucose that has accumulated in your blood. This is the result of your kidneys’ inability to keep up, which causes you to become dehydrated again.

Read 7 Signs and Symptoms of Dehydration—and How to Treat It and The 10 Most Hydrating Foods to Eat if you’re feeling thirsty for other reasons (Without Drinking Water).

© Mohammad Husni Baharudin / EyeEm/Getty Images Full Frame Shot Of Pretzels Over White Background

Craving pretzels?

Pretzels definitely satisfy the need for a crunchy snack, but you may specifically have this craving for a salty snack if you’re in need of water. Yes, it seems counterintuitive—but if you’re dehydrated, your body will crave salt. Think of this as a backwards way for your body to get you to drink more H2O.

Salt cravings can also be a sign of can be a sign of Addison’s disease or Bartter’s syndrome, especially if the cravings come with other symptoms like exhaustion, weight loss, and skin discoloration. If you’re worried that cravings are getting the best of you, take note of these foods that can actually make you hungrier.

© jirkaejc/Getty Images The salty popcorn.

Craving kettle corn?

The body needs both sodium and glucose to function properly—two nutrients that are quickly depleted when you exercise, especially if you sweat a lot. So if you’re craving any salty-sweet treat, it may be your body telling you it needs to physically recover and replenish its stores, Leahy says. (This is part of why most workout recovery drinks contain both sugar and salt.)

© AndreyPopov/Getty Images Refrigerator With Fruits And Vegetables

Craving… anything?

An intense craving for any food (but usually treats) is often mistaken as hunger when it may mean you’re dehydrated. But be aware: Thirst is actually the last resort signal for dehydration. “We often misinterpret the signals our body is giving us,” explains Leahy. “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.”

You may also be shocked at the range of these nine feelings you don’t realize you’re mistaking for hunger.

Sign up for The Healthy @Reader’s Digest newsletter for nutrition know-how and plenty more. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and keep reading:

The post Nutrition Pros Just Revealed What 12 Common Food Cravings Secretly Suggest about Your Health appeared first on The Healthy.