10. “You crave certain foods because you’re deficient in one of the nutrients they provide.”
Nope—unless you’re a deer or moose. (In the spring, those animals are attracted to “salt licks”—mineral deposits that supply nutrients they need.) Human food cravings tend to be more about satisfying emotional needs, says Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., a researcher at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. “Cravings tend to occur when your diet is restricted or boring, or when you know that you can’t have something,” says Pelchat. “If it’s forbidden, you usually want it more.”
There is one nutrient deficiency that’s clearly associated with cravings in humans: iron. But instead of longing for iron-rich liver or steak, people severely deficient in iron stores tend to crave things like ice cubes, clay or even cement. Researchers don’t know what causes this strange, rare condition, called “pica,” but some suspect that a lack of iron might somehow affect the body’s appetite mechanisms.