Bodies aren’t always the greatest at communicating with the brain—at least not in ways you might be used to. Hormones get wacky, nutrients get low, you get tired and cranky and just want to eat a tub of ice cream and go into hibernation for the rest of the week. But if you pay attention, you may realize there’s more to that craving than you think.
When you start yearning for something sweet, there’s a myriad of things your body might be going through. The most obvious is low blood sugar. If you’re feeling dizzy, tired, or irritable, that’s very likely the case. It can also be an indication of low levels of particular nutrients. Specifically craving chocolate generally means you need magnesium, since chocolate actually has quite a bit. Try healthier alternatives that don’t go straight to your hips, like tomatoes, bananas and other fruits.
A general hankering for sweets could mean several things. Some other nutrients you might be missing with sweet but healthy alternatives (although there are lots of other options):
- Chromium: Grapes
- Carbon: Most fresh fruits
- Phosphorous: There’s not a lot of sweet options for phosphorous, but you can find it in nuts and legumes, like pumpkin seeds, which can be flavored to suit you.
- Sulfur: Cranberries
- Tryptophan: Raisins and sweet potatoes
Spiciness isn’t actually a flavor, it’s a feeling. Literally, you’re burning your tongue. Capsaicin, the ingredient in peppers and such that makes them “hot,” sends a signal to your brain about feeling, not taste—that’s why it’s all over your mouth and not concentrated on one part of your tongue, like most flavors. So, when you heat your mouth up, your body immediately feels the need to sweat and relieve being overheated.
Capsaicin also makes your brain release endorphins, which make you feel good, so you might be looking for a mood boost or pain relief. The membranes in the nose sense it too, which is why it makes your nose runny, so you might have a cold coming on. If the craving for something spicy keeps going for months, your thyroid might be out of whack—capsaicin also speeds up your metabolism, which is controlled by the thyroid.