What It Means When You're Always Craving Fish

When you think of the word "craving," you probably associate it with treats like chocolate or fried and salty foods. But there are times when someone could be craving something as non-indulgent as fish, and according to health experts, this can mean a few things.

Food cravings can occur because of physiological, psychological, or emotional reasons. And in some cases, they can even be simple social or habitual practices, like craving popcorn while watching a movie. When it comes to craving fish, however, the most popular reason is that you could be on a restrictive diet. Per Dr. Michael Lam, who specializes in nutritional and anti-aging medicine, "Inadequate protein can make your body crave for protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, and meat," explained Lam. Eating a well-balanced diet is one way to ensure that your body is getting not just protein, but all the other nutrients it needs. 

Our body needs protein for pretty much most of its functions, whether that be maintaining healthy nails and hair or proper organ function. So it goes without saying that when you're passing by the seafood aisle at the supermarket, you'd do yourself good to grab some sardines, salmon, or prawns to get your recommended fill. 

You enjoy eating fish or you're looking for variety

What your food cravings are trying to tell you is a nuanced subject. And in some cases, like with fish, it might be something as simple as you enjoying that particular type of food. Perhaps you like its texture or taste. Or maybe an over-baked halibut reminds you of your childhood. It could also mean that you're looking for variety in your diet.

While dietitians believe that certain cravings — for example craving salt, ice, fatty foods, and chocolate — could be indicative of some health concerns, there's just not enough evidence to suggest that all cravings have to do with a nutrient deficiency. 

As registered dietitian nutritionist Sharon Palmer told Prevention, "There is very little science-based evidence on food cravings linked to nutritional deficiencies. And if food cravings were related to something you need, then wouldn't you be craving kale or apples, not ice cream and French fries? Instead, people tend to crave foods that are rich in fats, carbs, and sugar."

Why eating fish is good for you

Fish (or seafood in general) is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. You'll also find other nutrients like vitamins D and B12, calcium, iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium in fish, per the Washington State Department of Health. In fact, there are some who believe that craving fish might mean that you're deficient in omega-3 fatty acids or other nutrients like iodine, but more research is needed to support this theory. 

Everything from maintaining a healthy heart to improving brain function and decreasing the risk of health conditions like inflammation, arthritis, diabetes, dementia, ADHD, and depression has been attributed to the nutrients fish provides. Per registered dietitian nutritionist Keri Gans (via Real Simple), "Seafood has so many science-backed benefits for your mental health, immunity, cardiovascular system, and brain development."

Ultimately, craving something could help you become curious about the food you're thinking about all the time. In the case of fish, you know you'll be adding a food item that can benefit you. Just make sure that you're also aware of how to manage your food cravings. After all, too much of just one kind of food is never a good idea.