Q:

Why am I craving carrots?

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Quick Answer

Excessive carrot cravings have been linked to anemia, and can be resolved by adding more iron into the diet. However, carrot addiction is a rare but real condition that can result in hypercarotenemia, thought to be triggered by unknown chemical elements in beta carotene.

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Full Answer

Medical literature concerned with the consequences of excessive carrot consumption dates back to the 1900s. While the most famous side effect is hypercarotenemia, a condition in which the skin turns yellow or orange, the British Journal of Addiction has recorded cases in which patients displayed psychological dependence on carrots, exhibiting withdrawal symptoms of nervousness, cravings, insomnia and irritability.

The exact science of carrot addiction remains unknown. Some doctors speculate that beta carotene is the basis of the addiction, but others have examined the correlation between those who start eating carrots as a displacement activity while trying to quit smoking. An aggressively oral act, carrot eating and withdrawal becomes linked with nicotine withdrawal.

Food cravings are generally understood to be more mental than physical, and are often meant to treat stress or as a side effect of emotional eating. However, cravings often focus on foods high in fat or sugar, which trigger a boost in serotonin levels. One woman in 1996 attempted to treat her carrot addiction with antidepressants, but they did not affect her carrot intake.

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