Ever wonder “why do I crave potatoes?”
Please know you are NOT alone because potatoes are a staple food in many cultures.
They come in various forms and flavors, which makes them appealing to people from all walks of life.
I remember traveling in Peru and hearing from people that in Peru there were over 2,800 varieties of potatoes!
In America, we don’t have as many varieties of potatoes. But we do tend to see potatoes as comfort food and eat a lot of them.
This article will discuss why people crave potatoes. Generally speaking there are two reasons you crae potatoes:
- the comfort
- or the nutritional qualities of potatoes
1 – Dehydration
Potatoes are often salty – think fries or potato chips.
We crave salt when our body has lost too much water, for example by sweating or urinating. Sweat and urine contain electrolytes such as potassium, sodium (aka, salt) and chloride.
Since water contains these electrolytes and salt, when you lose water you also lose salt.
This is why many cravings for salty food items (like French fries or chips), because the salty taste creates a mouth-watering effect. This mouth water makes people feel more hydrated after eating these foods.
Of course, the mouth-watering effect of salty foods doesn’t actually hydrate you! In fact you are left more dehydrated!
Have you ever eaten some French Fries and then felt like you wanted some more even though you weren’t hungry?
It’s possible that you were originally dehydrated. Because of your dehydration you craved a salty food like French Fries.
Then once you got the French Fries your mouth watered. This mouth watering temporarily tricked your body into thinking it was drinking something!
But you are still dehydrated! And now your body wants more French Fries because it thinks French Fries will quench its thirst! But the salty fries are actually making the dehydration worse!
I hope you see how dehydration can make you crave salty foods.
And many potato foods are often salty, like fries or chips.
2 – Energy
Potatoes are often rich in carbohydrates, protein and fiber, which is one reason they make such a good meal!
I know you might think, “Potatoes don’t make a good meal. They make me fat!”
But please keep in mind …
Potatoes are actually a complex carbohydrate and an excellent source of energy.
Potatoes originated in the Andes mountains region of Peru about 4,000 years ago. The Inca civilization relied on them for sustenance!
Importantly, potatoes are affordable and easy to grow. Even in harsh climates or rugged terrain!
This makes them invaluable to developing countries with populations struggling to feed themselves.
3 – Potassium
Potatoes contain tons of potassium!
Potassium is a mineral that regulates your body’s fluid balance and nervous system.
The average adult needs 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day to maintain health. While you might not think about eating potatoes as a way to get more potassium, it could be one of the easiest ways!
If you are not eating enough potassium then this could explain your potato cravings.
Of course, to meet your potassium cravings you could also eat other foods high in potassium such as:
For more info on foods that are high in potassium check out this WebMD article.
4 – Habitual Food Cravings
Potatoes are a great food to eat for your health and because they’re so versatile they can be prepared in many ways.
But sometimes you might be craving potatoes even if you don’t know why! Or worse yet, have no idea what it is about the potatoes that makes them so appealing!
That’s when it’s time to look at how healthy potatoes really are, particularly if they are processed.
I know we just got done talking about the health benefits of potatoes, but let’s be clear here:
Unprocessed potatoes are great for your health, but the salty, fried, processed potatoes are not!
Here is a list of salty, fried, processed potato foods:
- Potato chips
- Hashed browns
- Tater tots
- Fried onion rings
How French Fries Create Emotional Eating
Think about how your body got tricked into thinking it was hydrated after you ate those fries.
Well, turns out it’s more than your body that gets tricked!
See … salty, fried processed foods have lots of carbs and salt. From an evolutionary perspective, we are prone to crave foods with lots of carbs and salt.
Because when we lived without modern conveniences, carbs and salt were much harder to come by. So we really craved them!
This means when you eat those fries that your body gets tricked into thinking it’s happy! Its tricked into thinking the mouth watering is hydrating you!
Here’s what actually happens when you eat fries:
- Your body has been conditioned through evolution to crave salty, fatty foods.
- When you get salty fries (or another similar food potato item) your body is very happy!
- Your brain and body releases dopamine into your brain (aka, happy chemical)
- You get a burst of happiness, excitement, etc …
- Temporarily you get distracted from work, stress, bad feelings, etc …
- Now the next time you are sad your body has learned that it can feel better by eating fries!
- This can mean your body will literally crave fries when it’s sad, dehydrated or even feeling full!
Basically if you don’t feel well, whether due to dehydration or uncomfortable emotions, your body can learn the wrong lesson!
Instead of drinking water or managing those emotions, your body might instead just crave potatoes!
Side note – do you have strange cravings for ice?
What Does Craving Mashed Potatoes Mean?
There are many reasons why people get food cravings for mashed potatoes.
One common reason is that they are comfort food.
When you have a bad day, or just want to feel better about yourself, the best way to do this is by eating something comforting and warm like mashed potatoes.
However, there can be other reasons for craving mashed potatoes as well. If someone has low blood sugar levels then they might crave these foods because of how quickly the caarbs get into their bloodstreams and help bring their energy levels back up again.
(Mashed potatoes digest a bit faster than non-mashed potatoes).
Another reason is texture.
If a person has been eating a lot of foods with an extremely hard texture, then they might get food cravings for mashed potatoes because they are easier to chew and digest.
Potatoes also help keep you full, and are one of the foods according to science that keep you full the longest!
What Are The Benefits of Potatoes?
There are many benefits to eating potatoes.
Potatoes are full of complex carbohydrates that fuel your body with energy.
They’re also a great source of fiber. Fiber aids digestion and prevents various kinds of cancers. Cholesterol problems too!
Furthermore, potatoes are a great source of potassium. This helps for maintaining cardiovascular health.
Finally, potatoes have many other vitamins and minerals in them like folic acid, magnesium to prevent magnesium deficiency, vitamin C and iron (for iron deficiency).
Overall potatoes are one of the many healthy foods you can eat (if not fried, etc) and even if you’re diabetic you can have potatoes!
What Is Your Body Lacking When You Crave Potatoes?
To summarize so far … a craving for potatoes is usually a sign that your body lacks water or energy from carbohydrates.
(You can also have a mineral deficiency, but I would say that’s more of a tertiary reason and not a primary reason. We’ll talk more about these tertiary deficiencies below.)
When you are short on energy and crave potatoes, you need to get some healthy carbs and add them into your daily food intake so that the cravings stop.
A common suggestion would be adding whole grains with nutritional value to your diet. Examples include oatmeal, quinoa or brown rice.
This will give you the carbs needed by your body while also providing fiber.
Or, if you are craving potatoes because of dehydration then drink more water during the day!
Craving Potatoes Final Thoughts
There are two sides to why people crave potatoes. One that craves comfort, and one that craves nutritional qualities.
Potatoes can be good for you if eaten in moderation with other healthy foods!