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Craving Control: 10 Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Featured | Woman holding fork and knife hungry | Craving Control: Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Improve your craving control by finding out what your cravings mean and what you can do to curb them.

RELATED: How to Fight Cravings

Understanding Craving Control for a Healthier Body

What Causes Food Cravings?

Ever wonder why you crave certain foods and not others? You may be nutritionally deficient!

Many of us have, at some point in our lives, experienced a craving for a particular food, but have you ever stopped to wonder what the craving could mean?

There are various causes of food cravings. It could be because of hormone imbalance, unstable emotions, or pregnancy.

A craving is the body communicating to the brain that we’re deficient in certain nutrients, even if the foods we’re craving are generally categorized as being "bad" for us.

While experts believe cravings only last for 3-5 minutes, indulging in cravings of “bad” foods may cause weight gain or even other health problems in the future. This is why it’s important to learn craving control and work on it, especially if you’re craving unhealthy foods all the time.

10 Common Cravings and What They Mean

There are many different types of cravings and they can usually indicate what it is we really need. Take a look at the 10 most common cravings and what they may be trying to tell us.

1. Salt and Salty Foods

While intense salt cravings may be due to an underlying medical condition, most of the time it’s just because of stress, premenstrual syndrome, fatigue, or boredom.

When your body starts to become stressed or bored, you end up eating “comfort foods” which are often salty or fatty. Emotional eating and craving junk food may lead to disruption in your daily eating habits.

Aside from that, craving salt or salty foods may mean that you’re dehydrated. Salt cravings could also mean you have a silicon or chloride deficiency.

What to add to your diet:

  • A quart of water for every 50 lbs of body weight each day and water-rich fresh fruit and vegetables to increase hydration levels
  • Seaweed, rye, and celery to increase chloride levels
  • Nuts and seeds (avoid refined grains) to increase silicon levels

2. Chocolate

Chocolate hot drink | Craving Control: Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Chocolate is another popular food your brain may crave at times.

Craving chocolate can be a sign that your daily magnesium intake is insufficient. Approximately 80% of the general population is deficient in magnesium, and if you exercise regularly, your magnesium requirements increase further.

It’s important to keep your magnesium levels at an optimal level to avoid chocolate consumption, which can possibly raise your blood sugar as well. If you have particularly strong cravings for chocolate, and no other magnesium substitute will do, go for dark chocolate or any kind of chocolate with no milk or sugar in its ingredients.

What to add to your diet:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Raw cacao nibs
  • Nuts
  • Green vegetables in your daily diet
  • High-quality magnesium supplements
Plant-based collagen | Craving Control: Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

3. Sugar and Sugary Foods

Cravings for sugary foods may be as simple as a need for a quick energy fix from stress or lack of sleep.

If you’re planning to lose weight, strong cravings for sweets can disrupt your weight loss goals. It raises your glucose levels, plus the increased risk of insulin resistance will make you constantly crave sugar.

Like your body asking for salty food, craving sweets is also caused by a lack of certain minerals and nutrients.

Sugar cravings may mean that your diet is lacking in chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, or tryptophan.

What is tryptophan? This is an amino acid essential for optimal growth, especially in children.

What to add to your diet:

  • A combination of nutrient-dense sweet foods with protein, fats, or high-fiber foods like nuts and fruit for energy
  • Broccoli to increase chromium levels
  • Fresh fruit to increase carbon levels
  • Nuts to increase phosphorus levels
  • Cranberries and cauliflower to increase sulfur levels
  • Sweet potato and spinach to increase tryptophan levels

4. Fatty or Oily Foods

Spinach craisin avocado salad | Craving Control: Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Craving fat or fatty foods may be caused by low daily fat intake.

Fat is an essential nutrient in healing and replacing cells in your body, and it’s a vital component in many other bodily functions. Fats cravings may also mean that your daily calcium intake is too low.

Fatty or fried foods like French fries or pizza are also considered comfort foods. People usually crave these kinds of food to improve their mood when they’re sad or stressed out.

What to add to your diet:

  • Healthy or smart fats from plant-based sources like:
    • Hemp seeds
    • Pumpkin seeds
    • Flaxseeds
    • Avocado
    • Nuts
  • Leafy greens, legumes, and sesame seeds to increase calcium levels

An interesting note: Low calcium levels may also be linked to soda or carbonated drink cravings.

5. Bread and Toast

Craving these foods may mean that your nitrogen levels are low.

If nitrogen loss is greater than nitrogen intake, a negative nitrogen balance is created within the body.

For the body to make progressions in fitness (and generally be in good health), it needs a positive nitrogen balance to recover from workouts and make adaptations in response to the stimulus caused by training.

What to add to your diet:

  • Tofu, nuts, and beans or a high-quality vegetable based protein nutritional supplement like Warrior Blend to improve your nitrogen balance

RELATED: Cravings and Nutritional Deficiencies 101

6. Overeating

Mixed red green orange fruits | Craving Control: Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Giving in to your urges to eat a lot means your body wants to correct an imbalance. This causes your brain to think you need to overeat to compensate for that imbalance.

Overeating may be caused by tryptophan, silicon, and tyrosine deficiencies.

What is tyrosine? This is an amino acid important in the synthesis of hormones and is created from another amino acid, phenylalanine.

What to add to your diet:

  • Sweet potato and spinach to increase tryptophan levels
  • Green, red, or orange fruits to increase tyrosine levels
  • Nuts, seeds, and oats to increase silicon levels

7. Lack of Appetite

There are a lot of possible reasons for lack of appetite, from metabolic issues to chronic diseases. It can also be because of a lack of certain vitamins and minerals.

Not getting the nutrients your body needs may lead to weight loss and even an eating disorder. Lack of appetite may be caused by chloride, thiamine, niacin, or manganese deficiencies.

What to add to your diet:

  • Tomatoes and celery to increase chloride levels
  • Seeds and yellow vegetables to increase thiamine levels
  • Nuts to increase manganese levels
  • Sunflower seeds to increase niacin levels

8. Pasta and Pastries

Craving pasta or pastries can be a sign that your diet is lacking in chromium. It can also mean you need more magnesium in your system.

Carbohydrate cravings can also mean your body needs a serotonin boost, but eating a muffin will only end up with you craving more bread or pasta.

What to add to your diet:

  • Onion, apples, and cinnamon to increase your chromium intake
  • Green vegetables, seaweed, basil, and coriander for magnesium

9. Red Meat

Strawbeerry in basket | Craving Control: Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Craving red meat while following a vegan lifestyle (especially if you have not been vegan all your life) may mean you are iron deficient.

As the non-heme iron found in plant food sources is less absorbable than heme iron, it may be advisable to consume 1.5 times the recommended daily intake for iron.

To increase the absorbability of non-heme iron found in plant food sources, combine iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C.

What to add to your diet:

  • Spinach with an orange, or strawberries and almonds to increase levels of iron

10. Potato Chips

This is a popular craving. Potato chips are not only fatty, but they are also high in sodium.

Then again, eating too many potato chips may become a health problem in the future. Its fat content can affect blood pressure and glucose levels.

Craving potato chips may mean you’re deficient in chloride.

What to add to your diet:

  • Celery, tomatoes, or olives to increase chloride levels

Don't forget to download, save, or share this handy infographic for reference:

10 Common Cravings Infographic | Craving Control: 10 Most Common Cravings, Their Causes, And How To Control Them

Watch Dr. Weston discuss how addiction compares to cravings in this video from Sunwarrior:

Sometimes, people will experience multiple cravings. When devising a nutritional plan, I recommend you select foods that contain nutrients linked to several cravings to see if this helps.

If you still suffer cravings, select the food specific to that craving to correct the deficiency that craving is linked to. Once you address the deficiency, your craving control will surely improve!

If you want to learn more about these tips or about fitness and nutrition, like our Facebook page.

How do you practice craving control when the cravings are really strong? We’d like to hear your tips on how to reduce cravings in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 9, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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