What do you want to eat that your body lacks? The real reason is these 4

There are various rumors circulating on the Internet about the relationship between appetite and physical needs:

The craving for salt may be due to a lack of minerals and trace elements;

The craving for sweetness may be due to blood sugar imbalance;

The craving for barbecue may be due to iron deficiency and vitamin B12;

I want to drink Coke because my body lacks calcium…

Is appetite really a signal of nutritional needs from the body?

These factors determine what you want to eat

Appetite and nutritional deficits do have some correlations, such as pica, which may be related to the lack of certain trace elements in the body.

People in some parts of Africa, because of economic difficulties and other reasons, cannot meet the needs of trace elements such as iron and zinc through their daily diet, and will supplement them through strange ways such as eating soil.

▲ A Haitian girl is eating dirt. Photo source |Program “Lv Xing”

But this is not absolute. Pica may also be related to bad family social factors and mental and psychological factors.

Scientists have also conducted related experiments on “Does craving to eat mean lack of something?”:

● 93 diabetic patients on a 12-week diet

● During this time, give them only lean poultry or fish

It was found that the subjects’ cravings for all types of food decreased significantly, especially grains (one of the food types that were completely banned during the experiment) [5].

That is—nutrient deficiencies caused by the restriction or lack of certain foods may not increase cravings for those foods.

What really affects your appetite are these factors:

Environmental factors

One ​​side of the water and soil raises the other side. The people of Guanzhong Plain, which are rich in wheat, corn and other food crops, like to eat pasta, while the people of Jiangnan, who come from the land of fish and rice, mostly like food with an “umami” flavor.

In the past, human appetite and taste preferences were often closely related to the geographical environment in which they lived.

Nowadays, the popularity of the Internet has gradually broken this geographical limitation: after get off work, just swiping through social software, a large number of videos and pictures about food pour into my eyes, it is inevitable to be tempted to place an order with passion .

This may be because humans have always faced food shortages during the long evolutionary process.

If you want to fill your stomach, you must be able to search for delicious and high-calorie food at a glance, so you have evolved the “visual hunger” that sees delicious food and will feel comfortable. “ability [3].

But regular exposure to virtual food is not small: our physical hunger is growing and our appetite is getting out of control.

Cultural factors

In addition to the environment, we must have been brainwashed by a lot of business society in the process of growing up.

For example, you must buy a diamond ring when you get married, and you have to change a different lipstick color every season…

The same is true for food. In many cases, it is not what you want to eat, but the business that creates your needs—chocolate for Valentine’s Day, cakes for birthdays, and the first day of autumn. A cup of milk tea…

WhichOne is that you must subjectively want to eat? It’s just a hint of appetite given to you by the business community!

Emotional hunger

The factors that influence our eating behavior can be divided into internal and external factors, culture and environment are external factors.

Internal factors are controlled by two systems: the homeostatic system and the hedonic system.

In the homeostatic system, the digestion and absorption of nutrients remain in a relatively stable state: when our body’s energy resources are depleted, we want to eat, and when When our energy levels are adequately replenished, we stop eating.

Infants and young children naturally have this ability to eat intuitively. However, as we grow up and integrate into human society, many factors of the hedonic system interfere. This natural and balanced intuitive eating ability triggers emotional eating independent of hunger and satiety.

For example, we will feel stress, boredom, depression and other emotions, and the way to release them is probably to eat and drink when there is no energy demand at all.

And will prefer to choose foods that can bring quick physical feedback, such as desserts, large meat[1], in order to try to block the return of bad emotions.

The long-term habit of using food to solve emotional problems will make the brain continue to activate and strengthen this reward circuit, and strengthen people’s preferences for a certain taste.

Stomach flora

There are approximately 10 trillion different types of microflora in our gut, all with different preferences for food.

For example, Bifidobacterium likes dietary fiber, Prevotella likes carbohydrates and monosaccharides, and Bacteroides likes certain types of fats[2]…

Different flora in the stomach are like the Seven Heroes of the Warring States Period. Whoever dominates the world can dominate what food he eats.

In other words, whether you want to eat sweet or salty, vegetarian or meat, is likely to be related to the needs of the flora in your stomach.

Other reasons

Some medications can also affect appetite, such as antidepressants, short-acting birth control pills, and more. Schedule may also affect a person’s appetite. People who often stay up late or lack sleep have a stronger appetite and higher calorie intake.

An interesting study also found that a person’s personality may also influence food preferences. There is an interesting correlation between personality and eating behavior, with people who are interested in novelty eating salty foods, while people who are prone to anxiety seem to prefer less food [7].

How to reduce unwanted appetite?

Changing decision-making mechanisms

Now there is an afternoon tea, which is a low-calorie fruit salad and a fragrant chocolate cream cake. Which would you choose?

If your decisions are based on immediate reward feedback, and you crave an immediate dopamine reward, you may choose cake, after all, human instinct is to hope that the smallest Giving in exchange for the greatest happiness.

But if your decisions are based on long-term value judgments, and you hope to reap the long-term health rewards of eating right, then you may not hesitate to choose fruit salad .

What we need to do is to shape a decision-making view based on long-term value judgment. The specific approach can start with more reliable health knowledge, such as paying attention to and starring food chestnuts. group.

Our nutritionist @coffee gives you a few tips for training your decision-making mechanism:

1. When you want to eat and you are not sure if you are “hungry” or “greedy”, it is recommended to drink a large glass of water first. If you’re still hungry after drinking, eat.

2. Take 5 deep breaths before eating, which can help you start mindful eating and control the speed of eating.

3. When you eat, take small bites and try to chew slowly.

Actively eat healthy foods

Gut microbiome can influence how the brain responds to food and chooses what to eat.

Correspondingly, the food we eat, in turn, affects the composition of the gut microbiome.

So, if your gut flora is unbalanced, always want to eat something high in fat and calories.

Then you need to eat a balanced diet, eat light and varied foods, starve those bad bacteria to death, and use rich nutrients to feed healthy bacteria into large tribe.

Look at your phone for a while

We have entered an era where we spend more time in the virtual world. Many jobs are facing the screen at all times. Even after get off work, few people care about the world around them.

Whether on the subway, on the bus, or on the couch at home, our eyes are almost inseparable from the screen.

When a steady stream of food pictures and videos come into view, it will inevitably lead to some unnecessary appetites, which will lead to over-consumption of food.

We can use these rare free time to read, exercise, care for our family, friends and pets around us, to take the initiative to live a real real life, and it can also help us to a certain extent Model healthier eating habits.


[1]Plassmann H, Schelski DS, Simon MC, Koban L. How we decide what to eat: Toward an interdisciplinary model of gut-brain interactions. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci. 2022 Jan ;13(1):e1562. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1562. Epub 2021 May 11. PMID: 33977675; PMCID: PMC9286667.

[2]Alcock J, Maley CC, Aktipis CA. Is eating behavior manipulated by the gastrointestinal microbiota? Evolutionary pressures and potential mechanisms. Bioessays. 2014 Oct;36(10):940-9 . doi: 10.1002/bies.201400071. Epub 2014 Aug 8. PMID: 25103109; PMCID: PMC4270213.

[3]Spence C, Okajima K, Cheok AD, Petit O, Michel C. Eating with our eyes: From visual hunger to digital satiation. Brain Cogn. 2016 Dec;110:53- 63. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2015.08.006. Epub 2015 Oct 1. PMID: 26432045.

[4]Novelle MG. Decoding the Role of Gut-Microbiome in the Food Addiction Paradigm. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jun 25;18(13):6825. doi: 10.3390 /ijerph18136825. PMID: 34202073; PMCID: PMC8297196.

[5]Harvey J, Wing RR, Mullen M. Effects on food cravings of a very low calorie diet or a balanced, low calorie diet. Appetite. 1993 Oct;21(2): 105-15. doi: 10.1016/0195-6663(93)90003-3. PMID: 8285649.


[7]Spence C. What is the link between personality and food behavior?[J]. Current Research in Food Science, 2022, 5: 19-27.

Editor: Jasmine

Design: Grapefruit