Health

Food Cravings Uncovered

Ah cravings. We’ve all had them at least once in our life, but for some, this can be a daily occurrence. Some cravings can even be so intense that our mind is completely consumed with the thought of eating that specific food we crave, and no matter how hard we resist, it sits in the back of our minds until we finally give in and binge on it.

Does this sound familiar? Has this ever happened to you before?  It has for me, and that’s what sparked my curiosity into why we crave foods. I wanted to know if there was a deeper meaning behind what we crave, if there was something our bodies were trying to tell us, and if there was a way to stop those cravings in a healthy way rather than giving in to temptation.

So, here is what I discovered. I hope it helps you all out in reducing those cravings you may be experiencing so you can get on with your day and achieve the healthy lifestyle you’ve always desired!

chocolate

1. Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most popular food cravings. If you find yourself reaching for a block of chocolate, it may be due to a lack of magnesium. This mineral has been shown to help reduce levels of stress and anxiety, relax muscles, keep bones strong, maintain healthy heart function, regulate blood glucose levels, and assist with energy production.

Some healthier alternatives to receive your magnesium intake from include (but are not limited to) raw cacao nibs/powder/beans, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds (all preferably soaked or sprouted), green leafy vegetables, and fruit.

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Sweets

If you struggle to make it through to lunch without a mid-morning sugar hit, it could be due to several things (making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what it could be). So, if you’re someone who craves sugar on a regular basis it could be linked to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or a deficiency in tryptophan, chromium, sulphur, or phosphorus.

Healthier alternatives for tryptophan include (but are not limited to) Spirulina, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, raw cacao, oatmeal, sweet potato, spinach, and raisins. Alternatives for chromium include onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, cinnamon, grapes, apples, and sweet potato. Healthier options for sulphur include veggies belonging to the cruciferous family (like kale, cabbage, etc.), cranberries, horseradish, asparagus, carob powder, garlic, and onion. And alternatives for phosphorus include whole grains (soaked or sprouted is best), pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, and lentils.

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Soft Drinks

We all know the harmful effects sodas and fizzy drinks have on our health, yet when our bodies are crying out for a nice cold glass of coke or sprite, we often cave in just to end the urge for it. Now why would our body be craving something so toxic for us? It could be due to a deficiency in calciumPhosphoric acid, which can be found in carbonated drinks, can leach calcium and magnesium from your bones, creating a terrible cycle of depletion and craving.

Healthy alternatives to combat this craving include (but are not limited to) sesame seeds/ tahini, broccoli, kale, legumes, mustard and turnip greens.

cheese-varieties

Cheese is a popular comfort food, and for good reason. It contains l-tryptophan, a fatty acid that can help improve your mood and promote relaxation. If you’re constantly craving this gooey food, it may be due to a deficiency in essential fatty acids.

Some great alternatives containing omega 3′s (EPA and DHA) include (but are not limited to) flax oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

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Bread, Pasta, & Pastries

There’s nothing better than having fresh bread straight from the bakery, or stopping off on the way home from work to pick yourself up a bagel or pastry. However, if you’re constantly craving these carbs regularly, it may be due to a chromium deficiency. chromium works with insulin in the body to help metabolise carbohydrates.

Healthier options to receive chromium from include (but are not limited to) onion, romaine lettuce, tomato, cinnamon, grapes, apples, and sweet potato.

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Red Meat

Red meat is a common craving to have when your body’s low in iron. However, it is not a good idea to have too much of this food as red meats are often quite high in unhealthy saturated fats, which can be harmful for your heart. Pairing vitamin C rich foods with sources high in iron is a great way to boost iron absorption in the body, especially if your iron intake mainly comes from plant-based sources. This is because vitamin C helps synthesize red blood cells in the body (where iron is found).

Alternative options to receive your iron from include (but are not limited to) beans and legumes (soaked or sprouted preferably), sulphur-free prunes, figs, and other dried fruits, seaweed, spinach, cherries, and vitamin C rich foods to help with iron absorption.

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Popcorn

A craving for popcorn can be a sign of stress hormone fluctuations. Stress can have a huge effect on almost every system in our body. It can impact our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour. Ongoing, chronic stress, if left unchecked can contribute to many health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes.

Healthy alternatives to help reduce stress include (but are not limited to) meditation, breathing exercises, exercise, leafy greens, and vitamin B and C.

potato-chips

Potato Crisps

This is a food a majority of us loves to munch on. It’s one of the most commonly reported food cravings. If you’re someone who downs a bag of crisps regularly, it may be a sign you’re low in chloride and essential fatty acids. Chloride works with electrolytes like sodium and potassium to help balance fluids, acids and bases in the body. Fatty acids help manage inflammation in the body.

Healthier options of the Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) include (but are not limited to) flax oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts.

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Bread and Toast

If you have a hankering for bread and toast on a regular basis, it may be a sign you have a nitrogen deficiency. Nitrogen is found in amino acids (which are the building blocks of your cells) in your body, and also in your DNA.

Healthy foods containing proteins include (but are not limited to) green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains (preferably soaked or sprouted).

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Burned Food

This may sound like an odd craving to have, but if you regularly desire burnt food it can often be a sign that you have a carbon deficiency. Interestingly, carbon makes up 18% of the human body. It’s the basic building block to most cells in the body, and helps with cellular respiration – a process where sugar is broken down into a form the cell can use as energy.

A healthy alternative includes (but is not limited to) fresh fruits.

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Coffee and Black Tea

If you’re someone who craves a super strong coffee on the hour every hour, then it may be an indication that you’re deficient in phosphorus, sulphur, iron, or NaCl (salt).

Great alternatives for phosphorus include (but are not limited to) whole grains (soaked or sprouted is preferable), pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, and lentils. Foods high in sulphur include cruciferous veggies (cabbage, kale, etc.), horseradish, cranberries, asparagus, carob powder, garlic, and onion. Iron rich foods include beans and legumes (soaked or sprouted is best), sulphur-free prunes, figs, and other dried fruits, seaweed, spinach, cherries, and vitamin C to aid in iron absorption. Foods high in NaCl include Himalayan or Aztecan sea salt, apple cider vinegar, and kombucha (if you buy store-bought kombucha, look for ones containing no added sugar).

ice

Crunching On Ice

Some people do enjoy chewing ice, however, if you find yourself craving ice often, it can be a sign of an iron deficiency.

Foods to help boost your iron levels include (but are not limited to) beans and legumes (preferably soaked or sprouted), sulphur-free prunes, figs, and other dried fruits, seaweed, spinach, cherries, and vitamin C to assist with the absorption of iron.

As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.

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This list is just a handful of the most common cravings people might experience. When I learnt what all these cravings could be telling us, I became very conscious of my body. I kept my eye out for any cravings that I might experience and would research what nutrients I might be needing as a result of that craving.

Did you recognise any of the food cravings above? If you have other cravings that you’re experiencing, please feel free to share them below. It’s always nice to know we aren’t the only one’s going through something like this.

Have a wonderful day all!

Vanessa xx

 

Sources:

Hilton Andersen, Charlotte. What Your Food Cravings Secretly Reveal About Your Health. Reader’s Digest. Retrieved from https://www.rd.com/health/diet-weight-loss/cravings-meaning/

What Do Food Cravings Mean? 21 Common Food Cravings And What You Can Do About Them. Ben Greenfield Fitness. Retrieved from bengreenfieldfitness.com/article/fat-loss-articles/what-do-food-cravings-mean/

Easton-Smith, Kim. (June 14, 2018). What Your Food Cravings Say About Your Health. Cosmopolitan. Retrieved from https://www.cosmopolitan.com/uk/body/diet-nutrition/a21342964/food-cravings-what-do-they-mean-health/

Marks, Lynn. (2016-05-09). What Is Chromium Picolinate?. Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/chromium-picolinate

Lee, Elizabeth. (August 29, 2011). The Truth About Red Meat. WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-truth-about-red-meat#1

The Relationship Between Iron and Vitamin C. Fergon. Retrieved from http://www.fergon.com/the-relationship-between-iron-and-vitamin-c/

Stress Symptoms. (July 11, 2017). WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#1

Mayo Clinic Staff. (April 28, 2016). Stress Symptoms: Effects On Your Body And Behavior. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

What Is A Chloride Test?. (December 16, 2016). WebMD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-a-chloride-test#1

Lewis, Sherry M., Knapka, Joseph J. (2006). Learn more about Chloride. Nutrition. ScienceDirect. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/chloride

Floyd, Margaret. What Are Fatty Acids Used For In The Body?. Share Care. Retrieved from https://www.sharecare.com/health/fats-nutrients-diet/what-fatty-acids-used-for

Feed The World – General Briefing Sheet (TV). Why Do We Need Nitrogen?. Retrieved from http://www.rsc.org/Education/Teachers/Resources/Inspirational/resources/6.5.1.pdf

Eddy, Catherine. (March 12, 2014). The Role of Elements in the Human Body: Carbon. Prezi. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/kedbi6unipvy/the-role-of-elements-in-the-human-body-carbon/

Cellular Respiration. (October 9, 2018). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellular_respiration

 

 

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