Food cravings; can’t live with em, can’t live without em. They can get weird sometimes, like when you crave a donut at 3 p.m. right after you downed a salad for lunch. There are times where it’s just a phase, and other times where it is a reoccurring craving. You usually crave something unhealthy (let’s be honest here), which means your body is telling you that something is out of sync.
Here are the eight most typical cravings your body gets, and what it actually means when you crave it.
1. Sugar And Sweets
We are aware that there is too much sugar in our diets. Even though that morning chocolate chunk muffin and Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks is tasty and convenient, they are definitely not the best things to put into your body.
It is difficult to comprehend that your body craves for something that your brain knows is harmful for it. There are multiple reasons why you are craving sweets, but sometimes it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason.
“The more sweets you eat, the more you will crave them – it is a catch-22,” explains nutritionist Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar.
She explains that when we eat, our blood sugar goes up and insulin is released. After a sugar high, you get an energy crash. This leads to exhaustion for the body and another craving for a sugar high, which repeats the cycle. To deal with this type of craving, the best way is to reduce your sugar intake, eat more vegetables, fruits (with natural sugars, of course), and higher protein intake to give your body a gradual, expanded energy release.
If you have a healthy diet and don’t intake a great amount of sugar, it could be a nutrient deficiency such a lack of zinc, magnesium or chromium that is making you crave sweets. Try taking a daily chromium supplement to help balance your insulin levels and keep the cravings at a low level. A multivitamin can even help you stay on track, too.
Ah, chocolate. There are so many kinds to choose from. Whether it be milk, dark, white, we all need it sometimes. These kinds are cravings are usually correlated with menstruation, which is why women crave it the most during that time of month.
There is more your body is telling you when you are craving chocolate, you might just not be aware of it. It could mean you are deficient in the mineral magnesium.
Rosanna explains magnesium is: “nature’s sedating hormone, essential for easing stress and anxiety, relaxing muscles, enabling energy production, building healthy bones and for proper heart function”.
Not only can it cause these things, but it can have a toll on your sleeping cycle. It can make you tired, which will gravitate toward you to sweets and chocolate to help you stay awake. This is another example of catch-22.
Rosanna gives the suggestion to add raw cacao powder to your diet (not in brownie form though!) to help up your mineral levels, and avoid the sweet, artificial chocolate bars with low levels of cocoa in.
3. Carbs, Carbs, And More Carbs
Yeah, we know how comforting that big bowl of pasta is. There might be an underlying reason why you are craving it though. We turn to carbs to help us with our emotional issues, which results in comfort eating. If this isn’t the case for you and is still craving carbs, maybe you aren’t getting enough or good sleep.
If your body’s tired it wants a quick hit of energy, which the glucose in carbs provides because it’s easier to use than the energy provided by sources such as protein and fat, said Lindsey Smith, author of Eat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl’s Guide to Transforming Your Emotional Eating.
There are ways to beat your carb cravings such as exercising, fueling your body with good fats and lean protein, be in line with your emotions and work on your stress levels. Also, getting better sleep is key.
4. Say Cheese!
What is more satisfying than that melted american cheese in your grilled cheese sandwich? There is nothing wrong with getting the occasional cheese craving. But if you are craving it more frequently, than it could be your body’s way of telling you to add more fat to your diet.
Women probably crave cheese more than men because they need fats to help their bodies function, due to having a higher natural body fat ratio than men. Their hormones also need more healthy fats to do their job accordingly.
Cheese can be a source of calcium, so it isn’t the main issue here. But, too much consumption of cheese can be bad for your health. Maybe try and replace it with good fats such as avocado, olive or coconut oil, nuts and seeds, eggs and quality fish or meat. There are a bunch of good fats out there; just find one you like and stick with it!
5. Red Meat
For all those meat lovers out there, this one’s for you. You usually crave red meat when you are low in iron. Red meat is also special out of all the meats because it is the only food source of essential vitamin B12. The ones who don’t eat meat, in general, should try supplementing with a gentle iron and B12 drops or a B-complex to help fight the craving.
Nutritionist Cassandra Burns suggests eating red meat once a week, especially if you’re noticing other deficiency signs such as fatigue. She explains, “In recent years many people have been reducing meat in their diets, which is the main cause of iron deficiency. It’s important for the immune system and helps to transport oxygen throughout the body, without which we’ll feel tired.”
To get more iron on a non-meat diet, speak to your GP or a nutritionist and consider supplements to get yourself back up to healthy levels.
6. A Little More Salt, Please
The good old salt crave. There are many reasons behind the craving for sodium. For starters, you could be dehydrated from exercise, a long night of drinking, or simply haven’t drank enough water. Obviously your first instinct is to grab for something salty like a bag of chips, but instead, try to grab for water.
If you are still having that craving, reach for lightly salted popcorn, anchovies, olives and other natural salt sources. Also, cooking your food with unrefined sea or Himalayan salt can help kick the craving to the curb.
7. Coffee And Tea Galore
Everybody needs that caffeine kick in the morning…and in the afternoon…and at night. Our point is is that we are regular caffeine drinkers, hence why we usually grab for that cup of coffee or tea four times a day. This could mean you are actually addicted to caffeine, and if you go without it, you will get a bad headache and feel weak. So why would we stop?
Rosanna suggests it could also be a deficiency of phosphorus – a trace element that’s important to the body for processing calcium. She recommends plenty of nuts and seeds to boost your levels.
If you truly like the taste, there is also the decaffeinated options of coffee and tea. It’s like you are drinking the same thing, without caffeine of course.
8. Fatty Or Fried Foods
If a double cheeseburger from Five Guys is a staple in your diet, maybe it’s time to reevaluate.
Rosanna explains rather though fatty foods are often our comfort foods, and are linked to making us feel better when we’re sad, craving them could also mean you’re lacking essential fatty acids in your body, such as omega-3 and omega-6.
To obtain these fatty acids the healthy way, try consuming oily fish, or nuts and seeds. This will help fight the urge of fried or fatty foods when your body is craving it.
If you are craving these eight things, your body is trying to tell you something. Don’t ignore it because your body is actually lacking something it needs. Whether it be zinc, omega-3, or iron, we all need it to live a healthy and happy life!