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What Do Cravings Mean?

By Ripa Ajmera ; Updated July 18, 2017

Cravings have many potential meanings. There are sexual, food, alcohol, drug and other kinds of cravings. According to McGraw-Hill Medical Dictionary, a craving is "a strong desire to consume a particular substance—e.g. of food." Food cravings are one of the most common types of cravings.


There are many potential causes for food cravings, according to thedietchannel.com. Sometimes people crave certain foods for comfort or a method of escaping an uncomfortable situation. You might also crave specific foods for the quick boost of energy. Food cravings can be your body's way of attempting to fix a chemical imbalance or indicate that you are lacking vitamins or minerals. Craving some foods might be your body's way of telling you that you have a weakness in your glands, such as your adrenals, thyroid or pancreas. Cravings for alcohol and drugs, on the other hand, are caused by a chemical dependency your body develops after you start consuming these items.


Evolution predisposes the human body to crave high-sugar, high-fat foods, according to the Diet Channel. The reason for this is because when food was scarce, the body desired food that was full of calories or could be eaten to gain energy quickly. According to hbo.com, food and sexual cravings primarily stem from survival instincts.


Certain cravings correspond with vitamins and minerals your body needs, according to the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and "The Chemistry of Man" by Dr. Jenson Benard. For example, if you crave chocolate, what you really need is magnesium, which you can get from fruits, raw nuts, seeds and lentils. A craving for alcohol or recreational drugs means you need protein, calcium, glutamine and potassium. Cravings for carbonated drinks (including soda) can indicate that you need calcium. Having cravings for salty foods means your body needs chloride.


Pregnancy is a time when a woman's body craves certain foods more often, according to parents.com, which reports that a craving for milk during pregnancy, for example, could indicate that a woman needs more calcium. A fruit craving could indicate a need for more vitamin C. Parents.com also says that fruit, milk, chocolate and salty snacks are the most common cravings during pregnancy. Scientists believe that pregnancy cravings could be caused by a woman needing more calories to support herself and her fetus during pregnancy.


When you crave certain foods, ask yourself why you are craving it. See a therapist if you think that overwhelming negative emotions are causing you to have certain food cravings. Practicing yoga and meditation can also help you control your mind and emotions and decrease your stress level, which causes you to have fewer cravings.

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