It’s happened to all of us – you’re sitting there, minding your own business, when suddenly you get hit with an intense, almost primal urge to consume something salty. You find yourself rummaging through the pantry for pretzels, chips, or anything that can satisfy your sodium craving. While it may seem random, there’s actually some science behind those out-of-nowhere salty cravings.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the potential causes of sudden intense salt cravings and what they might indicate about your body’s needs. We’ll also provide some healthy ways to address those cravings when they strike to give your body what it’s asking for without going overboard on sodium. Read on to learn more about what’s behind those urgent desires for salt and how to deal with them in a balanced way.
9 Reasons Your Body Is Craving Salt
- Hormonal Changes
Such as PMS or being pregnant can cause salt cravings, in this instance, it is totally normal.
Increased stress often sends people in search of their favorite comfort foods in order to feel happier—for most people, this includes foods that are high in fat, sugar, or salt.
- Lack Of Sleep
Feeling sleepy can create an urge for snacking.Some people find bursts of energy and happiness through comfort foods, most often foods high in salt or sugar.
- You’re Sweating A Lot
As sweat contains salt, sweating naturally reduces the sodium in your body. Heavy exercise or hot weather makes the body sweat more, meaning that you lose this salt via sweat even more quickly, often resulting in salt cravings as your body tries to rebalance sodium levels.
- You Might Be Dehydrated
Fluids are incredibly important for your body to function as it should. As such, when your body begins to become dehydrated, you may start craving salt as a signal that you need to eat or drink more. However, as dehydration is so damaging to our body, you may also notice other symptoms, such as:
- Intense thirst
- Infrequent urination
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
In the same way that pregnant women often crave salty foods, PMS causes hormonal fluctuations that are believed to cause cravings for certain foods, often high in salt or fat.
- Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease, also known as adrenal insufficiency, means a person’s adrenal glands do not make enough hormones. These hormones support a person in responding well to stress, such as regulating blood pressure, so having Addison’s disease can lead to low blood pressure and sudden salt cravings. Besides craving salt, people with Addison’s disease may also experience:
- Ongoing fatigue.
- Dizziness or even fainting, caused by low blood pressure.
- Low appetite or weight loss
- Low blood sugar, known as hypoglycemia.
- Stomach pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Irritability or feelings of depression.
- Irregular menstrual periods.
- Bartter Syndrome
People with Bartter syndrome cannot reabsorb sodium in their kidneys, meaning that they lose too much sodium through urination, along with potassium and calcium, too. Due to this, people with Bartter syndrome may often crave salt along with a variety of other symptoms, including:
- Children may experience slow weight gain.
- Frequent urination.
- Kidney stones.
- Low blood pressure.
- Muscle cramps or weakness.
Not everything comes back to bodily functions, hormones, or serious conditions. Sometimes, you might just want to eat out of boredom. In these scenarios, drink a glass of water or chew gum to reduce those cravings and find something to entertain yourself.
Healthy Salt Options & Replacements
When an intense urge for salt strikes, it can be tempting to reach for the salty snacks and overload your system with sodium. However, there are some healthier ways to give your body what it craves without going overboard.
One option is to make yourself a broth-based soup loaded with vegetables. Opt for low-sodium store-bought broth and add plenty of potassium-rich veggies like spinach, swiss chard, mushrooms, and tomatoes. The broth provides salty flavor while the veggies give you key minerals that balance sodium levels.
You can also opt for just sipping on a mug of broth. Warm vegetable, chicken, or bone broths will hit the spot when you want something savory. Just be mindful of sodium levels, especially if using store-bought broths.
Snacking on olives, pickles, or salted nuts in moderation can provide a salty hit without excess sodium. Be sure to stick to just a small serving to keep sodium in check. You can also liven up healthy snacks with spices like garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and celery salt.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of drinking water to flush out sodium and address cravings. Dehydration can sometimes manifest as salt cravings. Sipping some water might be exactly what your body needs.
The key is being mindful about portions and tapping into healthy sources of salty flavor to give your body what it needs without going overboard. With some creative strategies, you can address those sudden sodium urges strategically.
In conclusion, sudden intense cravings for salt often arise due to factors like dehydration, mineral deficiencies, or hormonal fluctuations. While it may be tempting to reach for the salty snacks, there are healthier ways to address these cravings when they strike.
If the cravings persist or you also experience symptoms like fatigue, mood changes, or frequent headaches, be sure to consult your doctor, as intense salt craving can sometimes be a sign of more serious health issues. With mindful eating strategies and paying attention to what your body needs, you can keep salty cravings in check while still giving your body the nutrients it asks for.