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Do you crave what you need?

this post by Jetgirly got me thinking about something I'd considered before:

"I try not to drink calories, but yesterday I couldn't get my mind off orange juice. I trekked to the grocery store, in the snow, bought a litre and drank it all within the hour. I guess I needed the Vitamin C (or the acid... could my body be too alkaline?)."

I think that in general, our bodies must crave stuff that we need. So say you're getting low on iron, you start thinking "mmmm, spinach".

So, can anyone give any examples of this?

And let's do an experiment - for those of you craving something right now, can you think of a reason you might be craving it? (Although I expect the #1 reason is reading about it here...)

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  1. Interesting question, but how can you really know the answer? That is, how do you know what your body 'needs,' other than by your craving... and then it's just a circular argument. I mean, maybe you think your body needs vitamin c, but how do you know, other than getting scurvy or by the fact that you crave OJ or strawberries or something?

    You generally crave sugar if your blood sugar is low, so that's an easy one; I guess if you had a blood test that showed low iron and you craved liver or spinach, then that would be some evidence. But in general I don't really know what my body needs, although I suspect that what I crave is filling some need. And also, many food items contain many nutrients, so it may be hard to determine which of the things in, say, canteloupe (which I've had cravings for) is the one thing my body may or may not be needing at the time. It's a hard thing to test really rigorously, is what I'm trying to say.

    1. I do believe that our body knows what it needs/wants to function properly and that one should follow cravings (within reason).

      Two things that I sometimes crave that make me think that it's because my body needs it are orange juice and what I call "bloody" tasting food (raw tuna and rare beef).

      1 Reply
      1. re: viperlush

        I do that with rare beef. And if I'm wiped-out fatigued and get that craving, after having it my energy returns right away - but no other food I've found will do that. (I've wondered if it's the salt for blood pressure, the heme iron or maybe carnitine, carnosine or taurine.)

      2. I definitely believe that our body craves what we need. When I was in Puerto Rico recently, I ate a lot more meat and starch and fried foods than I normally do. Towards the end of my trip I was just craving vegetables and lots of citrus. The idea of eating any more fried food or meat made me really ill.

        Problem with cravings is that they can trip you up. There are a lot of people who have items that aren't the best for them but crave them because of an imbalance. Best example I can think of is sugar. And I'm sure if you're really craving that cigarette, it's not because your body really needs it. The thing about cravings is to see how you feel about an hour or two after eating the item in question. Those who mistakenly crave sugar will feel great 5 minutes after eating it but will probably feel like crap again a couple of hours later.

        And for jetgirly -- your body was probably too acidic if you were craving orange juice as opposed to alkaline. While oranges are acidic, when taken in, they raise the pH.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          Although nicotine is quite a regulator of body processes and nervous energy levels - slows them down when they're a little high and speeds them up when they're a little low. I've often wondered how much of the cigarette craving people get is related to that. (I'm a nonsmoker but have read some science texts on nicotine etc.)

          1. re: Cinnamon

            Nicotinic acid is also known as B3 or Niacin

        2. With me, it's salt during the summer. I run for fitness, and sweat a lot (and sweat out a lot of salt) once the dew points start getting above about 75F. So if I'm craving french fires (salt plus potassium) during the summer, an electrolyte imbalance is frequently the reason.

          3 Replies
          1. re: beachmouse

            my story exactly -- except that i only run because i have to chase my dog. :)

            i'd never made the potassium connection before now, but perhaps that does explain why latkes and french fries and things of that ilk are among my favorite foods. and incidentally, i also crave yogurt (high in potassium), frequently.

            1. re: cimui

              I've been craving salt today which is so unlike me. I don't like salt....I don't cook with it and don't add it to my food. So do I need it? Or is my pregnancy? Or both?

              1. re: rizzo0904

                If it's actually sodium you crave, celery might satisfy you since it's high in sodium.

          2. Don't have any examples that I am feeling right now to add but I totally buy this. Some people are more in tune with their bodies than others, and I have heard it said that women are more in tune than men in general. When I have heavy flow at my time of the month I want me some red meat for sure.