Food craving driving me crazy
April 17, 2019 8:16 PM   Subscribe

So, here's everything I ate today, but I'm still craving something that I can't put my finger on...

Fatty red meat, egg yolk and egg white, white rice, flax seed, lentils and chickpeas, cherries, butter, salt, pepper... I had quite a bit of all of the previous in some proportion, and I have zero "calorie" hunger, but I'm craving something that I can't put my finger on. Looking at minerals, trace minerals, and vitamins, it seems like I've gotten at least a little bit of everything. There's no particular food I'm craving, but my mind is casting about. I was in the sun for a bit, too, for vitamin D.

I know I'm under the RDA for a bunch of things, but what's bugging me is I can't put my finger on what I want.

If I eat cheese pizza, then I don't have this weird phantom craving, so that's some sort of clue. But I can't figure out what pizza, even with fortified flour, can possibly have to the point where I don't crave anything. I know there's some sort of insulin component, too.

Can anyone guess what I'm missing???

When you look at this, would you feel like it's missing something--like, what actual food would you add to complete the meal where it would otherwise be unsatisfying?
posted by zeek321 to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A green salad.
posted by lazuli at 8:25 PM on April 17, 2019 [16 favorites]

From my experience in many keto/low-carb communities: a lot of times when you're having unsatiated cravings you're actually thirsty, and if you can possibly get electrolytes in with your hydration you'll likely find some peace. At minimum something with a measurable sodium-magnesium-potassium daily percentage.

Also, fat. Fat is how people on keto top up on satiation, and in my experience it's salty fat that really does it. Salted avocado, bacon or ham, salty fatty fish, cheese and salami and/or pepperoni, queso and chips, ghee and salt on roasted veg.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:26 PM on April 17, 2019 [15 favorites]

I tend to crave by flavor or texture... salty or sweet or sour, or crunchy or chewy. (Crunchy might mean cracker-like, and it might mean crisp, like an apple or celery. Chewy might mean doughy, or it might mean meat jerky. Depends on the day.)

So... I guess I'm suggestioning, if all else fails, think outside the box and see if it might be something unusual like that?
posted by stormyteal at 8:27 PM on April 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

I’d be missing bread and some green veggies with acidity (like a salad with lemon and olive oil or roasted Brussels sprouts with lemon and garlic).
posted by sallybrown at 8:31 PM on April 17, 2019 [3 favorites]

I don't think your body actually knows what foods it needs and just requests them. But I would guess you have a sweet tooth/a craving for something sweet. Or you're thirsty as mentioned above.
posted by bleep at 8:36 PM on April 17, 2019 [10 favorites]

Something high in vitamin C, like broccoli or citrus fruits.
posted by mdrew at 8:58 PM on April 17, 2019

My unprofessional guess is that you are craving vegetables.
posted by whistle pig at 9:18 PM on April 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

Water, usually, when it's an ambivalent craving. Sometimes salt is good too. But usually when I'm just wanting something vague, if I slot water in or just drink a glass that does it.
posted by Lady Li at 9:19 PM on April 17, 2019

I get sad missing out feelings from a lack of saturated fats and unami. Sounds like you've got the saturated fats going, maybe some unami? Something salty and fermented? Pickles are great for this, I'll often snack on them whilst waiting for dinner to cook. Miso soup. Salami. Coffee. Soy sauce. Cheese! Sauerkraut.
posted by kjs4 at 10:28 PM on April 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Something fresh and crunchy, like a raw sweet pepper.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 11:19 PM on April 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

You need something with a strong flavour. What you listed sounds kinda bland to me and for me, I need strong flavour to feel satisfied.

Eat something pickled washed down with a cold beer.
posted by like_neon at 11:40 PM on April 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

In the context of sufficient calories, craving does not mean there’s a nutritional need. Yesterday I craved potato chips, aka total junk. My body didn’t need them.

For evolutionary reasons, humans crave salt, sugar, and fat (see Salt, Sugar, and Fat by Michael Moss). That’s what cheese pizza is. That’s what potato chips are. In a completely natural world, giving into those cravings would not hurt you. In a world of processed food (cheese pizza, potato chips), they can lead to health problems.

What your diet lacks is vegetables. Depending on how many cherries you ate, more fruit would probably be good too.
posted by FencingGal at 3:53 AM on April 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

Sometimes this happens to me (although I don't prescribe it to my body asking for nutrients), I call it "being hungry for a food that doesn't exist".
posted by Fig at 3:58 AM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Nthing salty fatty fish:sardines once a week give good brain food, good for heart too, also delicious.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:06 AM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Every once in a while I have a glass of milk that really hits the spot. No other explanation, even thirst, just a somatic sigh once I’ve downed it. I’ve added milk to my options to make sure the unsettled feeling-not quite a craving-stays away. This keeps miscellaneous grazing down, too.So this may be a variation on thirst, and pay attention to the other side.
posted by childofTethys at 4:54 AM on April 18, 2019

In general, food cravings are typically more psychological/emotional than nutritional. In addition, our PFC causes signal noise to any primitive ability to notice what our body might actually require for optimal functioning.

posted by dancing leaves at 4:56 AM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Maybe potassium or electrolytes in general. Maybe magnesium, too.

I recently figured out that when this happens to me, I usually feel better after eating a bunch of honeydew melon, V8, popcorn, or bananas -- all of which have a decent amount of potassium, which is difficult to get in quantity in most foods. The V8 was a real surprise; I just kept drinking it and drinking it, then finally one day I realized it was filling the same hole that bananas were, read the label, and saw the amount of potassium in there. You can't really (easily) get potassium supplements, so I just went with it.

I've also satisfied cravings by drinking lots and lots of Gerolsteiner water, and it turns out that contains waaay more magnesium than other mineral waters. I got some magnesium supplements and they have saved me dollars and time. Magnesium is supposed to be good for nerves and sleep, too.

In the past few years, I've discovered electrolyte tablets sold in sporting goods stores (and online). They're not cheap, but they make me feel a lot better sometimes, and I've found they help with migraines too.

I agree that water might be an issue too.
posted by amtho at 5:03 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Potassium supplementation is actually super easy - "lite" salt or k-salt are potassium salts (or a potassium/sodium mix - read the label!) and you can dump a quarter teaspoon in some water and knock it back. I keep some "flavor enhancer" stuff around to cover the taste, though. (And yeah, I suspect your issue is one of hydration and/or electrolytes, although I concur that vegetables are good for you and you should probably eat some.)
posted by restless_nomad at 6:06 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Keto solution to all cravings is: eat a sour pickle. It works, just try it -- go eat a sour pickle.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:18 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Even when I'm getting carbs through legumes, fruit, dairy, etc. and my stomach feels full, I often don't feel satisfied until eating a grain-based carb. This is true even when meds have diminished my appetite to nothing, so I don't think it's solely psychological. You have rice on your list, but if you didn't eat much of it, it could be the pizza crust that satisfied you. Maybe experiment by trying a piece of bread next time?
posted by metasarah at 6:52 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

You just want pizza.

Or cheese (maybe).
posted by esmerelda_jenkins at 8:00 AM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Cheese has casein - which is actually addictive. So if cheese pizza seems to be what hits the spot, that may be why.
posted by augustinetill at 8:21 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Hmm, so maybe salad, electrolytes, pickles, and patience. Still watching this thread.
posted by zeek321 at 8:30 AM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Does the pizza you eat have a crunchy crust? My husband gets the same craving every few days and he won't stop plowing through everything in the cupboards until he eats something crunchy. Being a person who loves and craves creamy things, I do not understand this at all but it works every time. Crunchy as in potato chips or celery or apples. Potato chips and that ilk might scratch the same itch as the pizza crust, being crunchy and carby.

A quick read-through of what you ate that day - seems like everything was soft or mushy or creamy.
posted by the webmistress at 8:55 AM on April 18, 2019

When I'm craving something vaguely unidentifiable, it's usually something sour/piquant and possibly salty I'm looking for: some cheeses, pickles, spicy mustard, pineapple, citrus, citrus-containing salsa, salt and vinegar chips, etc.
posted by telophase at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I crave bread even after eating a ton of rice or potatoes. I'd like to believe that it's the selenium in wheat, although it's also possible that I am just addicted to gluten. I don't actually know.

Anyway, if I've eaten everything you mentioned, I probably would still be peckish until I eat a little bit of bread.

Also, YMMV, but for me, the craving for something fresh (which lead me to eat salads and greens and fruit and vegetables) feels very different from bread craving: the former feels almost like thirst, whereas the latter feels like emptiness.
posted by redwaterman at 1:31 PM on April 18, 2019

Eat one Brazil nut to see if you needed some Selenium!
posted by oxisos at 6:20 PM on April 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

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