What they really mean and what to eat instead
Everyone has experienced cravings for certain foods at times in their life.
Desperate for some chocolate? Can’t survive unless you get that packet of chips? While people generally crave less healthy food options, there is a hidden beneficial message within. Learning to understand what our bodies are really telling us when they crave salty, sweet or other various foods can help you ditch the junk and improve your health.
FIT takes a look at what the most common food cravings mean and what you need to chow down on instead.
If you’re having intense cravings for chocolate, it may be due to a magnesium deficiency, as chocolate is particularly high in this nutrient. If this is the case, you may also be experiencing symptoms such as anxiousness, muscle cramps and tiredness. Choose a healthier option to satisfy your body’s needs by eating nuts and seeds, pulses and leafy greens. You could also be in need of antioxidants, so make sure to stock up on purple coloured fruit and vegetables, such as blueberries and beetroot.
While the caffeine in coffee makes it addictive, a sudden espresso urge that’s out of your ordinary routine could be your body telling you it has an iron deficiency. For women, this is very common, especially during and after the menstrual cycle. If you’re not getting enough iron to transport oxygen around your precious body, lethargy will set in and could lead to coffee cravings. To solve the problem in the long run, you need to increase iron in your diet by including green leafy vegetables and lean red meat. Natural liquid iron supplements can also lend a helping hand.
If you’re frantic for hot chips, crisps, pretzels or anything salted, it may be a deeper issue related to stress and sodium. When you’re stressed, your adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol, a process that requires sodium. To combat it, include stress-busting practices in your daily life, such as running, yoga and meditation, all which cut down cortisol levels in the blood. Opt for natural sources of sodium, by eating shellfish, beetroot, artichoke, and sea vegetables.
You could also simply be dehydrated and lacking in electrolytes, in which case drink water with a pinch of pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt, or grab a fresh coconut water.
Lollies & Sweet Foods
If you’re after a sugary hit such as lollies or biscuits, you could be lacking in chromium, the mineral which helps keep blood sugar levels stable. If these are unbalanced, your body may crave sweets to compensate. Other tell tale signs are a feeling exhausted and under the weather. Natural food sources of chromium are broccoli, grapes and chicken, however it’s a tricky one to get from diet. If you’re deficient, nutritionist Shona Wilkinson recommends trying a supplement.
That can of lemonade might be what you’re craving, but it’s likely that it’s not the fizzy hit your body really wants. According to Wilkinson, this is quite a common craving that signals a need for calcium. Drinking fizzy beverages actually leaches the mineral calcium from the bone; the body then absorbs this and craves the fizzy drinks to get more. This is bad news for bones health. Instead, choose wholefood dietary sources of calcium, which is abundant in leafy green vegetables, almonds and dairy products.