So, you’re craving caramel chocolate ice cream again. Do you know what that means? Hint: you’re feeling a lot more than hunger. Today, experts know that food cravings actually have a lot to do with one’s emotional state. In other words, we’re drawn to specific food types based on how we feel.
Without further ado, let’s dive right into the feelings behind the six most common food cravings as reported by health expert Deanna Minich.
#1 – Sweet
Unsurprisingly, this is the craving Deanna has seen most often in her 20+ year career.
What’s behind it? A lack of joy. If you’re craving that cotton candy, it could be because you’re working yourself to the bone or it could be a condition like depression. Whatever the case, your body is begging for sugar due to the serotonin-boosting properties of the drug. Yes, that’s right, sugar is most definitely a drug.
Instead, why not try exercising? Numerous studies have shown that exercise – or even yoga – boosts your brain’s serotonin production and release without the harmful side effects of sugar.
#2 – Spicy
Are you craving the tear-inducing heat of a jalapeno? You could be bored and seeking adventure. Dr. Paul Rozin at the University of Pennsylvania studied human patients to determine what makes spicy food so attractive.
“The hotness level they liked the most was just below the level of unbearable pain,” he said. “So that led me to think that the pain itself was involved; they were pushing limits, and that was part of the phenomenon.”
The good news is that there’s nothing particularly wrong with spicy food. In fact, at the right amount, spices can actually reduce your risk of death, help you lose weight and provide pain relief.
That said, eating too much of anything – including spicy food – isn’t good for you. Why not seek adventure by trying something new? Get outside more, explore a strange part of town. Find out what excites you?
#3 – Salty
As with sugar, studies have shown that individuals who crave salt are suffering from symptoms akin to depression. Keep in mind that salt, unlike processed sugar, is something that your body needs – it could be using your depressed state to tell you that you’re deficient in the mineral.
That said, your brain messes up when it goes ‘Hey, I know what’s salty – McDonald’s fries!” Instead of heading for the golden arches, consider supplementing your diet with healthy salted snacks like pumpkin seeds.
Also consider doing something about your mood, like exercise or talk therapy.
#4 – Caffeine
Honestly, I was surprised this craving wasn’t higher up on the list! Nonetheless, it’s still a pretty common craving at #4. What does it indicate mood-wise? Mental exhaustion.
You see, while a cup of coffee every once in a while can work wonders, if you’re experiencing severe cravings for caffeine Deanna says it’s likely because you’re having a hard time keeping everything together.
Try cutting yourself some slack. Try to squeeze a nap in during the day and get to bed earlier at night.
#5 – Crunchy Foods
Who would’ve thought that craving food of a particular texture could also signify an emotional state? Well, it does according to Deanna as well as Linda Spangle, Denver weight loss specialist.
A craving for crunchy food indicates stress, anger and frustration. It provides something to crunch and snap down on. Of course, there are plenty of crunchy foods in nature like apples. But let’s be honest – when most of us reach for something crunchy, we’re looking for potato chips or the like.
Why not deal with that anger, stress and frustration head on? Deanna suggests writing your troubles down and expressing them to someone else when you’re able to do so with a level head.
#6 – Chocolate
It’s no coincidence that chocolate is one of the most commonly-purchased food items around Valentine’s Day; it actually makes you feel like you’re in love. So, unsurprisingly, those who crave chocolate are likely also craving intimacy.
But here’s the thing – there’s good chocolate and there’s bad chocolate out there and most of the chocolate you’ll find at your local junk food store is going to be of the bad variety.
Instead of cramming your face with Kit Kat or Coffee Crisp, why not figure out how you can better communicate and fulfill your need for intimacy?