Why do I crave orange juice at night?
February 22, 2006 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Why do I crave orange juice at night?

In the past few weeks there have been numerous times I've been lying in bed and it just hits me...this HUGE urge to drink some orange juice. I mean like I can start tasting it in my mouth. So...I go get me a glass. After which I'm fine.

So why am I craving it like that? And so randomly?
posted by JPigford to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I may be odd, but I've always felt that your body tells you when it needs something. There is something in, say OJ, that your body is lacking, maybe vitamin C? There may be other places that your body could get the nutrients it is looking for, but somehow your subconscious knows that OJ has it and so it compels you to go get some.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:11 AM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Are you pregnant? My wife drank a fair bit when she was in the first trimester.
posted by ny_scotsman at 6:12 AM on February 22, 2006

(OJ, that is)
posted by ny_scotsman at 6:12 AM on February 22, 2006

Low vitamin C? Low blood sugar? Dehydration? Maybe some combination of the three, with a tall glass of OJ as the three-birds-with-one-stone solution?

Usually, intense food cravings mean you need more of whatever's in that food.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:12 AM on February 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Have you been drinking more alcohol recently? Or are just more dehydrated? My highly scientific survey of myself and two colleagues finds that all 3 of us crave OJ when very thirsty (or slightly hungover). We guess it's the intense, acidy flavor that makes it seem more refreshing.
posted by gaspode at 6:33 AM on February 22, 2006

To expand the question a bit, how does your brain know what your body is craving? If your body needs Vitamin C, how does it tell the brain that, and then how does the brain translate that to OJ? What if someone knew nothing about nutrition, would they still crave orange juice when their body was Vitamin C deficient?

Maybe if the body is vitamin C deficient, and by chance the person drinks OJ and the brain registers that the body feels better, it makes the association then? I don't know. But I don't get how it (the brain) can know it (the body) wants OJ the first time the deficiency in vitamin C occurs...
posted by omair at 6:35 AM on February 22, 2006

Omair, it isn't necessarily the Vitamin C that your body needs. It could be fluids, fructose, beta carotene, but, as you've stated, the brain has made the association with that specific need and it being resolved with a glass of OJ.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:50 AM on February 22, 2006

My vote is for sugar in the OJ. There is at least some evidence that there are addictive effects to sugar. For the most part, OJ is just sugar water...but glorious sugar water.

I would highly doubt a deficiency of vitamin c would result in a craving. Easy way to find out, tho, take a vitamin c tablet and see if the cravings go away.
posted by sexymofo at 7:43 AM on February 22, 2006

I second the idea of taking a vitamin C tablet to see if it disappears.

Depends on the OJ brand (and whether it was made from frozen can or purchased as a big bottle of liquid, the latter of which has significantly more sugar) on whether it has much sugar in it, because oranges are naturally sweet already, the reason fresh-squeezed and frozen concentrate taste so similar.
posted by vanoakenfold at 8:17 AM on February 22, 2006

I can't find the link I was looking for, but I'm pretty sure that the "body craves a very specific food to satisfy a desire for those specific nutrients" thing is a satisfying meme, but ultimately a myth. (This is not to say that actual defiency doesn't have very real physical symptoms, usually starting with fatigue.)

I concur with gaspode. And I think you're thirsty and that OJ is a rocking thirst-quencher.
posted by desuetude at 8:43 AM on February 22, 2006

The lying in bed thing combined with the sugar craving leads me to suspect the onset of diabetes? I've heard tales like that before. Just a thought.
posted by agregoli at 8:53 AM on February 22, 2006

In other words your body needs water and it knows that OJ supplies water? Sounds like the meme is pretty much proven then.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:54 AM on February 22, 2006

Agregoli is onto something. If you haven't had a physical lately, you might want to book one with your family doctor, and make sure he or she checks your blood glucose level. The sweet (mostly sugar) fruit juice that I craved at night was apple, not orange... not too long after that started happening I was diagnosed as a Type II diabetic.
posted by enrevanche at 9:19 AM on February 22, 2006

Usually, intense food cravings mean you need more of whatever's in that food.

I know that seems logical, but I do recall seeing an article that said this has never been supported in controlled studies.

Anyone know of data to the contrary?
posted by StickyCarpet at 10:13 AM on February 22, 2006

because oranges are naturally sweet already...

Oranges are naturally sweet because they naturally contain sugars. "Sugar" doesn't just mean added sugar.

I know that seems logical, but I do recall seeing an article that said this has never been supported in controlled studies.

I'd love to see that article, actually. I've got no evidence for the connection other than my own experience and the anecdotes of others, but I'd be curious to see what evidence they've got against it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:04 AM on February 22, 2006

I think it's just habit. I always crave sugar at night, but it's because I have always given in to that craving.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:11 AM on February 22, 2006

I feel that the 'body craves what it needs' theory is valid. Am I imagining it, or have there been studies done on people with pica - and how their drive to eat non-food items comes from some sort of vitamin/mineral deficiency?
Pica def. here: http://health.allrefer.com/health/pica-info.html
posted by Radio7 at 11:19 AM on February 22, 2006

Here's a Scientific American "Ask The Experts" question: Are food cravings the body's way of telling us that we are lacking certain nutrients? It rather vaguely points out that the literature doesn't back up the connection without getting too much into the belief itself.

There's not much published literature, except on pica. Pica is sometimes caused by nutritional deficiences, but the materials ingested do not satisfy the lacking nutrients. In fact, the behavior is sometimes the cause of the nutritional defiency.
posted by desuetude at 11:34 AM on February 22, 2006

You might just be making a connection between a certain time of day and OJ. The fact that you can start tasting it suggests it's just a habit thing. These sort of strong food associations to a specific food aren't uncheard of. There may be an underlying sugar/salt craving going on that strengthens the habitual craving. Anyways, stop drinking orange juice and eat a real orange instead.
posted by nixerman at 12:36 PM on February 22, 2006

To answer various questions asked by people:

• I'm not pregnant...if I was, I'd have bigger problems than an orange juice craving...me being a male and all. :-P

• Couldn't be that I've been drinking more alcohol as I don't drink alcohol...doubt it's the dehydration either as I drink a ton of water through out the day.

• The orange juice I drink is mixed from the can...not premixed.

Other notes...I just started having these cravings in the past few weeks.

I've always loved orange juice and drank a fairly good bit of it...but just recently have I had these huge cravings for it.
posted by JPigford at 2:14 PM on February 22, 2006

...Which makes me think you should consult a doctor, just in case.
posted by agregoli at 9:06 AM on February 23, 2006

Imagined conversation:
JPigford: Doc, I suddenly really like to drink orange juice at night. Is this a problem?
Doc: Why, are you out of orange juice?
posted by desuetude at 9:48 AM on February 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

I'm late to this conversation but had to comment. A few times a year I get a massive craving for OJ - it's like I'm an addict & can't live without it. I have to go to the store as soon as it hits, and I can go through a couple of quarts a day. I don't want to eat, I don't want coffee (which is huge for me) - I just carry OJ around & drink it. After two or three days the craving passes and I'm ok again. I have tried taking Vitamin C but it made no difference. I've tried water & other liquids but they were no help. It has to be OJ and it has to be NOW.
I am type 2 diabetic, and I've noticed that when I take my glyburide I don't get the cravings as often. I went off my meds (change of insurance) about a month ago &, well, here I sit with my 3rd quart of OJ beside me.
posted by Rainluvr at 8:05 AM on November 21, 2006

Well, it looks like I'm about a year late on this one, but I'm hoping that maybe you found some useful information in that time. I actually ran across this posting after doing a web search on the topic because of my own cravings (at night only) for orange juice or oranges. This isn't something that started recently for me, though. I've been this way since elementary school. My dad was worried at that time and had me tested for diabetes, but that has never appeared to be a problem and I don't understand why the craving only happens at night. I rarely want orange juice so badly at any other time. Any more info on this?
posted by applebomber at 10:22 AM on January 21, 2007

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