When your food cravings could point to more pressing health concerns

Everybody gets food cravings! It might be that late-night chocolate biscuit you just need to have, or perhaps you’re desperate for coffee each morning.

Studies have shown that even people with properly balanced diets have food cravings. Humans often seek “comfort foods” in times of stress, or just need to break out of their monotonous routines.

However, certain food cravings can point to other health concerns. It’s wise to note how often you crave certain foods, and if you’re unsure whether there’s a deeper health meaning, consult with your GP:

1. Craving potato chips – Could demonstrate dehydration

The “chippy slap” has almost become an Australian salute, but what if you really can’t stop yourself reaching for that next handful of potato crisps? Chances are it’s not the chips you’re craving, but rather the salt they contain.

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Ironically, craving salt could be a sign that you’re dehydrated. This is because sodium, the primary substance in salt, helps to retain moisture in your tissues and organs. If you find yourself craving chips or other salty foods, first increase your water intake and try drinking some electrolytes.

2. Craving coffee – Could demonstrate iron deficiencies

Many Australians start their day with coffee, but a non-stop craving could show that you’re low in iron. Iron deficiencies can cause people to feel tired or sluggish, as there are fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.

For an alternative beverage that still packs an iron punch, try blending kale or spinach with some added pineapple for flavour. Another surprisingly delicious alternative to coffee is prune juice, which is loaded with iron too.

3. Craving chocolate – Could demonstrate emotional instability

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Who doesn’t crave chocolate? This delicious treat contains flavonoids, chemicals which naturally increase your brain’s serotonin and endorphin levels. For this reason, chocolate boosts your feelings of wellbeing and happiness.

It can be easy to use chocolate as an emotional “crutch” though. If you’re routinely letting chocolate cravings takeover, it might be worth chatting to your GP about emotional releases that could be more beneficial. Consider taking a walk outside, or try snacking on strawberries and plums instead.

4. Craving water – Could demonstrate diabetes

Excessive thirst goes beyond the normal daily needs for water. If you are constantly thirsty and also urinating excessively, this could be an early sign of diabetes.

The kidneys of diabetic people work extra hard to filter sugars throughout the body. If you find your water intake and urination habits have changed, it could be worthwhile chatting to a GP.

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5. Other tips

If you’re unsure whether your food cravings might point towards other health concerns, it could be useful to start a “food diary”. Record your normal diet, and if anything out of the ordinary occurs, note that craving in your diary.

Soon you’ll have a clearer idea of what foods you crave, and this information could be helpful when chatting with your GP. As with all health articles, this advice is general in nature only.

What foods do you crave? Have you ever craved a particular food or drink, only to find out it was a health symptom?