Are you hungry? Or are you craving? Is it physical? Or is it psychological? Pregnancy cravings aside, it could be one or some of those, without further information/investigation. Anyone who has spent more than a weekend in the wilderness has probably experienced a little hunger and some cravings. I’ll address hunger/starvation and wild edibles more directly in other posts, but cravings can tell you something about your nutritional deficiencies.

I think it’s pretty obvious what has happened, your body (AND brain) “learned” a conditioned response between what it needs, what it’s given, and the results. That nutrient deficiency “signal” registers as a craving which points us toward the appropriate foods. But when you’re in a survival situation, and faced with limited food options that are not necessarily your first choice, upon first eating them, your body still recognizes the necessary nutrients in the new food sources.

As far as available food resources in the wilderness is concerned, typically small game (squirrel, etc.) is the best option, but it’s usually best to ALSO eat the organ meats. Fish is the second best option and easier to get and prepare. To the degree wild edibles are a viable food option, which typically means starches and sugars (carbohydrates), in general they are a DISTANT third in food priority. As I’ve mentioned before, there are five considerations when it comes to wild edibles:

1- Availability,

2- Accessibility,

3- Abundance,

4- Caloric value, and

5- Nutritional variety.

Unless we’re talking about berries, nuts or roots/tubers, wild edibles (“greens”) are likely not worth much more than a very small salad. If the wild edibles are in season where you are, if they’re easy to get to without much effort or risk, if they are plentiful enough to make a difference, and if they, are packed with sugars, starches of fats, not only are you unlikely to get enough calories, you may well be WASTING calories gathering and preparing wild edibles! However, wild edibles MAY have the nutritional value (vitamins and minerals) you need to be reasonably nutritionally balanced.


If you crave chocolate, you likely have a magnesium deficiency. Chocolate IS high in magnesium, a mineral that is vital to several functions of the body, including relaxing blood vessels and providing us with energy. So at home, dark chocolate or cocoa powder with at least 75%+ cacao is best, molasses, avocados, oatmeal, dried coriander and wild rice are good. If you can find them in the wilderness, bananas, fruits, dates, legumes (bean-type food like roasted soybeans), raw nuts (like Brazil nuts), seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed). But more likely, salmon, halibut, nettles and fiddleheads.

NOTE: Avoid all chocolate if you have phenylketonuria, a condition in which the body cannot process the phenylalanine found in chocolate. People who crave chocolate may be deficient in phenylalanine, an essential amino acid found in chocolate that the body converts into another amino acid, tyrosine. Tyrosine plays a key role in the production of the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin, which enhance mood and reduce pain.


Cravings for red meat usually mean an iron deficiency and/or conjugated linoleic acid, a fatty acid that helps your body burn stored fat. Menstruation makes you especially vulnerable to iron deficiencies. An occasional steak (once a week) is OK, but try incorporating small amounts of red meat into your regular diet so you don’t go overboard when you indulge this craving. In fact, health-wise, you're supposed to treat red meat almost like a garnish or condiment. Keep it to about 15% of your diet.

Again, obviously eating the things you crave will probably satisfy nutritional deficiency/craving, so at home, red meat like beef or bison and spinach, chard, prunes, figs and other dried fruits will work. In the wilderness, try fish, seaweed, wild black cherries, mushrooms (IF you know what you’re doing!), leeks, cranberries, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelions, fiddleheads and nettles. Also, vitamin C helps with the absorption of iron, so anything you find with vitamin C like citrus, red peppers, tomatoes or berries, pine needle tea, etc.

BAKED GOODS (bread, doughnuts, cake, etc.) CRAVINGS

This may indicate your blood sugar (glucose) levels are fluctuating in response to a surge of the stress hormone cortisol. Too much cortisol triggers the release of glucose, causing the hormone insulin to spike. Physical activity like walking will use-up some of the excess cortisol, exercise also activates the body’s relaxation response to maintain healthy cortisol levels. But what your body really wants is Amino Acids which it can’t make on its own. So at home quinoa, which contains a complete set of essential amino acids, fiber and vitamins and minerals, or a piece of fruit or juice is good. But in the wilderness, unless you can find some wild fruit, your only option will probably be berries (good luck!).


What your body really wants is fat, preferably healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats. Unsaturated and saturated fats occur in both plants and animals and the majority of the physical and chemical characters of plant and animal fats are the same. But which is better? ANIMAL FAT!!! Our ancestors ate meat that was raised on grass rather than corn. That food was high in omega-3 fatty acids. Using vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids actually INCREASES the risk of death from heart disease, whereas using omega-3 fatty acids actually REDUCES it! (when the breakdown products of linoleic acid (plants) are oxidized, they form nasty compounds that are likely to CAUSE clogging of coronary arteries).

Obviously, fatty food smells good and tastes good and it’s the fat that gives what the food industry calls “mouth feel” adding to the feeling of satiation. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of fat to be found in the wilderness. The most likely source of animal fat can be found in large game and least likely in small game. At home, try frying food in coconut oil. Avocados and nuts like pecans, walnuts, almonds and cashews are good, also mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame provide healthful omega-3s. But in the wilderness, you’ll be lucky to find food of ANY kind with fat, or enough fat, to make a difference. Below is an at-a-glance table:






Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits



Broccoli, grapes, cheese, dried beans, calf’s liver, chicken



Fresh fruit



Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains



Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage



Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach

Bread, toast


High protein foods: fish, m eat, nuts, beans

Oily snacks, fatty foods


Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, ka le, legumes, cheese, sesame

Coffee or tea


Chicken, beef, liver, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes



Egg yolks, red peppers, muscle protein, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables



Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad)



Meat, fish and poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries

Alcohol, recreational drugs


Meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, nuts



Granola, oatmeal



Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame



Supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice



Sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens

Chewing ice


Meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, greens, black cherries

Burned food


Fresh fruits

Soda and other

carbonated drinks


Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, cheese, sesame

Salty foods


Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt

Acid foods


Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits

Preference f or liquids rather than solids


Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.

Preference for solids rather than liquids


You have been so dehydrated for so long that you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.

Cool drinks


Walnuts, almond s, pecans, pineapple, blueberries

Pre-menstrual cravings


Red meats (especially organ m eats), seafood, leafy vegetables, root vegetables

General overeating


Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches



Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach



Vitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables

Lack of appetite

Vitamin Bl

Nuts, seeds, beans, liver and other organ meats


Vitamin 83

Tuna, halibut, beef, chicken, turkey, pork, seeds and legumes



Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries



Raw goat milk, unrefined sea salt



Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches



Vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables