Given the plethora of ways potatoes can be eaten, it’s safe to say that almost anyone who’s tried a potato has probably craved them at some point.
But did you know, craving potatoes can actually be your body telling you it’s lacking certain nutrients or energy?
Is It Weird to Crave Potatoes?
Maybe you’ve found yourself craving potatoes frequently. Perhaps these craving are so frequent, you’re wondering: Why am I craving potatoes so much? What does this mean?!
Craving potatoes is definitely not weird or abnormal. It’s usually just a sign that your body needs some extra support.
And honestly, kudos to you for being mindful of your cravings instead of blindly following them! Potatoes help our bodies in many ways, but there are also cases where alternative courses of action are preferable to following the craving.
Not only are potatoes a filling, delicious, and versatile food that can quickly soothe a hungry belly, but they also have essential health benefits that our body craves.
The mental craving of wanting something yummy to eat is slightly different than our body calling out to fill a lack. Both manifest as mental cravings, which means they don’t come with manifest withdrawal symptoms.
Maybe you find yourself stressed and suddenly really want potato chips. Maybe you just ran a few miles and can’t stop thinking about French fries.
Neither is weird, and both are totally normal. They just have different causes.
There are several reasons beyond hunger or peckishness that we might find ourselves craving potatoes. Potatoes are a comfort food, but they also serve physiological needs, like stabilizing blood sugar and providing energy.
So, whether you’re experiencing a mental craving or a physiological craving, there’s not something terribly wrong with you.
Craving potatoes can actually be of benefit to you. It means that your mind or body is alerting you that something is off. Think of it as a signal that your mind-body connection is functioning.
Plus, craving potatoes isn’t like craving something bad for you. Potatoes, in moderation, offer a lot of health benefits.
They’re high in fiber, can help with lowering cholesterol, and contain large amounts of energy-heightening carbohydrates. They also contain nutrients like Vitamin C, magnesium, iron, and folic acid, which are aids in regulating your nervous and immune systems.
Now that we’ve de-villainized potato cravings, let’s get into some of the reasons these cravings might be happening. That way, you can get some peace and satisfaction.
Why Am I Craving Potatoes?
This one might sound a little paradoxical.
Since potatoes are usually served with a generous amount of salt, they probably make you thirsty. So, it seems like they’d dehydrate you even more. Wouldn’t it make more sense to eat something that quenches thirst rather than causes it?
Not according to our bodies!
When we’re dehydrated, our bodies are lacking in sodium. It’s pushed out of our water-lacking system when we sweat or urinate while dehydrated. So, a symptom of dehydration is craving salt.
Potatoes and salt are pretty heavily associated with each other, so it makes sense that you’d think of potatoes when your body is thinking of salt. Especially a dish like French fries or potato chips.
Eating salty potatoes when dehydrated temporarily restores some salt in your body, but it doesn’t last. Soon you’ll find yourself thirsty and feeling even more dehydrated than you did before.
This is a time when you probably shouldn’t answer the potato craving. They won’t help with your dehydration.
The best thing to do instead is to drink water and consume water-heavy foods like watermelon. Electrolyte-rich foods, like kale and spinach, also help alongside water intake.
2. Lack of Energy
Have you ever been laying on the couch or bed all day, doing nothing at all, and suddenly crave a savory potato snack? This often seems senseless, as if you don’t deserve the potato because you haven’t done anything all day.
In reality, you’ve probably been laying around for the same reason you crave potatoes: your body is lacking the energy it needs to get you moving throughout the day.
This isn’t caffeine energy: it’s energy from complex carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates consist of sugar molecules strung together in long chains. They’re found in fibrous foods and starchy foods. Unlike simple carbs, they aren’t processed and are digested more slowly.
Potatoes are full of starch, so they contain healthy portions of complex carbs.
People often make the mistake of thinking carbohydrates are unhealthy, and will make them gain weight. This isn’t the case with complex carbs. Remember: carbs don’t make you gain weight, calories do.
Complex carbohydrates are essential to a healthy diet because they give us significant boosts of energy. In fact, studies like this one have suggested that carbohydrate energy helps improve exercise performance more than energy from caffeine.
They actually help maintain a healthy weight, too. The energy they give is great for pre-workout food. Because they’re so filling, they can help with overeating if portions are controlled.
A baked potato might have fewer calories than French fries or tater tots. Still, even the more unhealthy potato dishes contain complex carbs and will give you energy if you’re feeling sluggish.
So, if you’re craving potatoes, consider whether you’re getting enough carbs. If you’re not, odds are you’re both hungry and lacking in a major macronutrient. Lucky for you, your body is telling you the best way to help.
If you’re trying to avoid potatoes to keep a caloric deficit, or for any other reason, replace them with quinoa, fruits, vegetables, or whole-wheat bread. All of these options are also high in complex carbs.
3. You’re Just Hungry
It’s possible that you’re craving potatoes because you’re just plain hungry and want some filling, substantial sustenance to ease your empty stomach.
Because potatoes carry so many carbohydrates, they’re really effective at giving the feeling of being full. They can also make you feel full for a long time.
This means they’re a great choice for easing hunger, but only in moderation. If you consume more carbs than your body needs – 45-65% of your daily calories – you could end up with weight gain, increased risk for heart disease, and an unhealthy metabolism.
So, don’t steer away from potatoes completely. Just make sure they aren’t making up the majority of your daily diet.
4. You’re Lacking Essential Nutrients
This is less likely than the possibility of you lacking complex carbohydrate energy, but you may be craving a root vegetable like a potato because of a vitamin deficiency.
In days past, when countries were poorer and more people were starving, potatoes were a highly important food source. They’re high in Vitamin C, which helped to prevent scurvy. They were even life-saving in some cases.
Potatoes are also high in potassium, which is an electrolyte that offers benefits to our heart, nervous system, and muscles. Some examples of potassium deficiency are physical weakness and muscle cramps.
5. Potatoes are a Comfort Food for You
Maybe your body is in perfectly fine shape, and your potato craving is coming entirely from a psychological place.
Because potatoes are used for dishes like mashed potatoes and shepherd’s pie, people often associate them with home cooking and the family. Perhaps you’re craving potatoes because you’re homesick or nostalgic.
French fries and fast food are also a comfort to many when they’re in a place of stress and pain. The savory, grease-ridden food provides temporary dopamine. So, check in on your mental health and see if maybe the intense craving is intertwined with it.
There’s nothing wrong with seeking temporary comfort in food, as long as you don’t mistreat your body in the process. In this regard, balance is essential. Don’t overeat or deprive your body of essential nutrients you can’t get in fast food.
6. Maybe You Just Love Potatoes
Potatoes taste great. They’re versatile. Who’s ever met a potato they didn’t like?
Your cravings might not have some hidden meaning behind them. If you’re craving potatoes and none of these reasons are adding up, don’t forget that you might just have a real, genuine love of potatoes.
With all the health benefits potatoes have to offer, there’s no reason to feel guilty for loving potatoes more than, say, a kale salad.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Potatoes When I’m Craving Them?
Instead of feeling shame about craving potatoes, you should remember that they’re not an unhealthy food!
Eating too much of any type of food isn’t healthy – that’s not only true in the case of carbs. Potatoes aren’t inherently “bad” food.
A lot of the healthiness of potatoes has to do with the way they’re prepared, rather than the vegetable itself.
Fried or mashed potatoes are less healthy because they’re mixed with ingredients like excesses of oil and cream. They’re delightful, but those high-caloric foods aren’t something that anyone should be consuming daily.
Potatoes are healthier when roasted, baked, or even sautéed. Here are some of the nutritional benefits they offer:
- Potatoes are high in Vitamin C. A single small potato has about 15% of our daily needed Vitamin C. Keeping Vitamin C levels regular helps support our immune systems. It also contains antioxidants that help our joints stay functional.
- Potatoes – especially roasted, baked, or fried ones – contain a lot of potassium. Potassium helps regulate the communication between our nerves and muscles, which helps to keep our hearts pumping.
- If you have kidney disease, be wary of potassium. Having excesses of it isn’t great for you, but kidney disease makes it difficult to regulate potassium levels.
- Around ¼ of our daily recommended Vitamin B6 can be derived from potatoes. B6 is linked to good nerve and mental health function because they help our bodies’ enzymes to break down proteins.
- Potatoes are the vegetable that contains the highest levels of choline, a compound that helps build cell walls, allows us to contract our muscles, and keep a steady heart rate. Choline is super important for a healthy brain and body.
What Else Can I Eat to Help A Potato Craving? What If There Are No Potatoes Around?
If you’re craving an unhealthier potato, like potato chips, you may just be in a snack-friendly mood. Perhaps you’re looking for a crunch more than an actual potato.
If this is the case, consider trying seaweed snacks like these gimMe Organic Roasted Seaweed Sheets. These are a great snack on their own, and can also be used for quickly-made sushi hand rolls.
If you’re craving hash browns, try to grate and fry up some squash instead. It has a similar texture to potatoes when pan-fried.
Mashed cauliflower is a great alternative to mashed potatoes, and has far fewer calories. If you’re trying to avoid carbohydrates or lower your intake, this is probably the best option.
If you’re looking to up your Vitamin C intake, opt for citrus fruit or juice. For potassium, try eating a banana. Choline can also be found in meat and proteinous foods.
If you’re having an emotional craving and want to satisfy it, pasta is also starchy and comforting in the way potatoes can often be.
Are Potatoes Good for the Brain?
Baked potatoes can improve memory. This is because they contain the highest levels of manganese, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C then you can find in a potato. These all assist in brain functions.
Are Potatoes Good for Mental Health?
There’s little scientific evidence showing potatoes to have long-term antidepressant effects, but they can certainly help in the short term.
Because they’re so comforting, they can help to put stressed and upset minds at ease. Their versatility also can make them exciting and something to look forward to.
We will say – eating too many potatoes will probably make your body hurt, which will ultimately have a negative impact on your mental health.
Why Do Potatoes Calm You Down?
Not only are potatoes comforting because of memories of home.
They also contain tryptophan, which is a sedative, nerve-calming amino acid. Our body doesn’t produce it naturally, but we can experience its effects when eating potatoes.
There’s nothing weird about craving potatoes.
In fact, with the versatility of potatoes and the numerous health benefits they offer, it might be weird to not crave them.
It’s totally okay to soothe those potato cravings, as long as you keep in touch with your body and what it’s asking.
Next time you find yourself asking why am I craving potatoes?, you can refer to this list to see which response would be best for you.