Cravings = Needs

I’ve had this theory that if you have a craving for a certain food then that is your body trying to tell you that you need some vitamins or mineral that is in that food. This could be especially true of pregnant women, all those weird cravings might mean something. Does anyone have any thoughts or facts on this?
Hmmm… I just woke up I wonder if we have any spinach left from last night?

Ive always found it easer to get forgiveness rather than permission.

It sounds good, but I’m not sure what message my body is trying to give me when it asks for Doritos and Diet Pepsi.

I used to think the same thing – then I got pregnant. If you can tell me the nutritional value of chocolate ice cream sodas I may stick with that opinion, but it took a beating when that was all I could drink during the second trimester.

I’ve heard the same theory, but I cannot fathom what my body could possibly want from Strawberry Frosted Pop-Tarts.

Likewise for potato chips and onion dip (salt and fat!)

The Cat In The Hat

There is actually a medical condition called pica where a person has an unusual craving (such as dirt) driven by a nutritional need.

Cecil covered pica, but IIRC he came to the conclusion that it was usually more of an obsessive-compulsive thing. For example, the person who sent in the question had an unnatural fixation with un-fired clay teacups.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

I think it has something to do with convenience, too. For example, if you go to the supermarket when you’re hungry, and you se a snack food, you may think, “Wow, I really want one of those…” I know I think this too at home sometimes, even when I should eat something more nutritious. I have all of the ingredients for a salad, but it would take a while to prepare, whereas the chips and cookies are right there, on the counter, already cooked, in the bag! But then again, this doesn’t explain occasional severe cravings, for chocolate, for example. Even if I haven’t had a bowl of chocolate ice cream in weeks, I’ll think about it, and want a bowl, NOW. Even if it’s 2 AM, no chocolate anywhere in the house, and I just had a full meal… Wierd…

“I like Florida; everything is in the eighties. The temperatures, the ages, and the IQs.”
– George Carlin

Sanibel: Pregnancy cravings are like that. “I must have it NOW. NOW NOW NOW.” Thank goodness there’s more than one 24 hour grocery store in the immediate vicinity of my house. :slight_smile:

I don’t know if I’m on solid biological ground here, but I think all of our junk food cravings are based on prehistoric nutrition. By that I mean, we seek out high-calorie foods because energy is scarce in a natural setting. If vegetables tasted better than ham, we would fill up on veggies and forget about hunting boar. Then we wouldn’t have as much protein to build our primeval muscles up, which are important for hunting boar.

Problem with my theory: it’s circular. Meat provides us with the ability to hunt for meat. But I guess it also provides us other brute strength abilities (like defense against mid-sized predators). Plus, meat has a lot of at which is important for growing a blubber blanket.

Another problem with my theory: shouldn’t the most protein-rich vegetables taste better than the watery, fibery ones? I’ve never heard anybody say: “Eww yuck, cucumbers. Can’t we please have some kidney beans?”

Anyway, the gist of my theory is that what is considered nutritious today is what would be considered very poor food by subsistence farming standards. Turnips? Cabbage? That’s what you eat when you’re starving and want something to feel a little less empty on! Good food is fried pork rinds, the sort of stuff you can sit out a winter on. Salt beef: excellent protein, and it keeps well. Bread is okay, since it’s got starch calories, but white bread is best, since you don’t waste stomach space with all that useless roughage. It’s best of all with some butter on it. Sugary foods are great, since they pack lots of available energy, and remind us of fresh fruit.

The problem is, of course, that we held those tastes over into an era of agricultural plenty. You have to really hunt to find rutabagas, but you can buy a whole chicken for less than a day’s wages! So our idea of nutrition has turned full circle: we only smile upon calories from protein, which we need to cut down on as well since it often comes with fat and salt, and we need more fiber in our diets (which was never a problem before).

However, I did discover a relatively healthy snack food that actually scratches the same itch as REAL snack food. Edamame (soy beans), as prepared at Japanese restaurants. Lightly salted, hot and tender in their pods (which you discard). Sorry, baby carrots just don’t cut it.