Whether it’s something sweet, salty, crunchy, or creamy… we ALL experience food cravings from time to time. They seem to come out of nowhere and once you think of that perfect treat, it’s hard to think of anything else! These pesky food cravings could be telling us more than what we think. Often when we are craving something unhealthy or unusual it is a sign that our body is missing something… and I don’t just mean that we are missing chocolate in our lives! Paying attention to these cravings could really help you decipher what your body needs to function at its best.
Below are some of the most common food/beverage cravings and what it could really mean you need to snack on, as well as what your body may be missing:
- Chocolate: When we crave the creamy sweetness of a chocolate bar, what we are really missing could be magnesium, B-vitamins, or essential fatty acids. Chocolate is rich in magnesium, especially in the form of 100% cocoa. Chocolate is also metabolized into serotonin, which helps regulate our mood and happiness, so we may crave chocolate when we are feeling stressed or sad. If you can’t deny yourself that chocolate bar, choose one that is at least 70% cocoa to make sure it has higher magnesium content.
- Carbohydrates: Ever want to drown yourself in a loaf of bread? Okay, maybe not… but if you catch yourself reaching for the crackers or an extra dinner roll, it could be a sign of insulin resistance and fatigue. Carb cravings can indicate that your body needs more fiber to help regulate your blood sugar. You may also be deficient in magnesium and chromium. You can get all these missing ingredients by snacking on fruits and veggies like bananas, apples, apricots, spinach, avocado, broccoli, and celery.
- Sugar: The sweet tooth always seems to hit when we are trying to cut back on sugar intake. Craving sugary sweets like soda and candy could be a sign of poorly controlled blood sugar or deficiencies in magnesium and chromium. It could also be a sign of dehydration. Instead of choosing processed sweets, try to cure that sweet tooth with a fresh piece of fruit or see how you feel after a big glass of water!
- Salt: Can’t get enough of the pretzels or chips? This could be a result of imbalanced electrolytes or stress hormones. Food’s rich in B-vitamins like legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can help reduce stress. Choosing a drink full of electrolytes, like coconut water, can also help alleviate your salt craving.
- Coffee or tea: While craving a hot cup of Joe could mean that you need your caffeine fix, it could also be a sign that you are low in sulfur or iron. Leafy greens like spinach and kale will help you get back on track – pair them with a good source of Vitamin C for extra absorption!
- Soda: Craving a carbonated beverage could mean your body needs more calcium! Soda is full of sugar and artificial chemicals, so it’s best to try adding some calcium to your diet before grabbing that can of Coke!
- Fried food: Craving fatty foods probably means you need more fat in your diet. However, choosing to satisfy this craving with fried foods that are full of unhealthy oil increases your chances of developing many chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Add good quality fats to your diet like salmon, avocado, coconut oil, and flax seed to your diet instead of giving in to that order of chicken wings.
- Red meat: If you can’t get a big juicy steak off your mind, it could be a sign that you are deficient in iron. Even if you are vegetarian, vegan, or just don’t want to increase your intake of meat there are many meat-free sources of iron you can add into your meals. Next time you go grocery shopping, pick up some beans, legumes, spinach, or dried fruit to try!
Cravings can come when you least expect them and sometimes, they are hard to keep under control, especially if you are dieting or cutting back on certain foods. When choosing foods or snacks, do your best to choose high quality whole foods that are nutrient dense. Having ideas for healthy alternatives to these cravings can come in handy and can also help resolve the underlying deficiencies causing your cravings!
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