Is your food craving so intense that you will scream or go nuts if you don’t get that food? When food cravings are so uncontrollable, it is usually a result of some deficiency in your body.
You are in the middle of a meeting and out of the blue, you feel a sudden urge or hunger for chocolate cake. The desire seems so intense that you lose focus and day-dream only of the cake. You feel you need it right away! Have you experienced this or something similar, about any food?
Simply put, a food craving is an irresistible urge to have a certain food! The cravings are the body’s way of telling you that it may be lacking certain essential nutrients. Food cravings can also be triggered by certain hormonal changes that take place in the body especially during pregnancy or menstruation, metabolic or physiological changes, or adrenal malfunctioning. Psychology also plays a role in triggering food cravings. Feelings of stress or boredom may result in the desire to consume a particular food.
What Food Cravings Indicate
Have you ever thought that your food cravings could mean something more than just hunger pangs? Here are some common food cravings and their meanings. We also give you some ways to reduce these cravings.
Chocolate or Sweets
Chocolate is a good source of magnesium and hence a craving for chocolate may indicate a shortfall of magnesium. Chocolates also contain chemicals that raise the levels of serotonin and endorphins in the brain which makes you feel happy and increases the feeling of well-being. Hence eating chocolate can act as a mood booster. The sweet cravings may signify low sugar levels or a deficiency of chromium, sulfur, phosphorous, carbon or tryptophan in the body.
However, you may also crave for sweets to energize yourself or to boost or lighten your mood. Eating sweets will have an immediate effect of energizing, as refined sugar is absorbed instantly by the body.
To Reduce the Craving: You need to include nuts, pumpkin seeds, whole grain bread, lima beans, spinach, brown rice or tofu in your diet to reduce your cravings for chocolates. Eating fresh fruits, broccoli or nuts may help lessen your sweet cravings.
Salty and Processed Foods
Craving for popcorn, chips, French fries and if that’s not enough, licking off the salt from a glass of margarita? It means you have a hunger for salt which indicates a possible sodium deficiency in your body. Dehydration due to a workout or a stressful situation can increase your craving for salt. Dark color of urine is also an indication that the body is dehydrated. Sometimes, depleted zinc levels in the body or adrenal tiredness may also result in salty food cravings.
To Reduce the Craving: Include celery, spinach, cucumber, fish, and raw cultured vegetables in your diet and drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water everyday.
Something Hot and Spicy
Craving for the flavor of spice in your food? The body craves for a spicy and hot taste to make you sweat which cools down the body. This craving for spicy food may also indicate zinc or sulfur deficiency or thyroid imbalance. If you are suffering from a sore throat or cold, you may crave for hot and spicy foods.
To Reduce the Craving: You need to include red meats, especially organ meats, seafood, garlic, leafy vegetables, and root vegetables in your diet.
Meat and Eggs
If all you can think about is protein-rich foods, that means you are having a vitamin B, carnitine, magnesium, folate or iron deficiency. It could also indicate a blood sugar imbalance. It may also be psychological, if you have recently quit eating meat or are on a strict diet.
To Reduce the Craving: Your body needs proteins, so you need to include meat in your diet or have a nice big glass of smoothie with eggs. You also need to include plenty of greens and non-sweet vegetables and zucchinis.
Carbohydrates and Bread
Cravings for breads, pastas, and carbohydrate-rich foods may result from a high insulin level or low blood sugar. Low levels of carbohydrates in the body can be a cause of mood swings or a depressed state of mind. The saccharides raise the level of serotonin which improves our mood. These cravings may also be an indication of the improper functioning of the thyroid gland.
To Reduce the Craving: You should eat more of lean cuts of meat, chicken, fish and eggs to fulfill the need of the body.
Ice or Chilled Carbonated Drinks
If you can’t keep you hands off soda and find yourself gulping down colas, this is an indication of calcium deficiency. The calcium levels in the body are depleted and the body wants you to fulfill them. A craving for other cool drinks may also indicate a deficiency of manganese, and ice craving signifies low hemoglobin or iron in the body.
To Reduce the Craving: You need to eat some cheese or drink a glass of water, whenever you feel like having a soda. You need to eat vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli, beetroot as well as legumes and sesame seeds. You can also include dairy products like yogurt and milk.
Coffee and Tea
A craving for coffee and tea may signify a decrease in the vitamin C levels in your body or not having enough iron in your system. As a result, you may feel tired and crave for caffeine. Coffee and tea contain caffeine which fires up the neuron activity in the brain and releases the hormone adrenalin.
This adrenalin high wakes you up, keeps you alert and acts as a stimulant to ward off mild depression. You might crave for coffee to experience this adrenalin high. A craving for coffee or tea may also indicate a deficiency of phosphorous or sulfur in the body.
To Reduce the Craving: You need to start eating healthy and include more of raw foods like broccoli, dried figs, dried apricots, dates and other iron rich food in your diet.
Crunchy, Oily and Fatty Foods
Your craving for crunchy, oily or fatty foods may signify calcium deficiency or low levels of the essential fatty acids in the body. It can also suggest inner frustration and irritation which gets released when you chew on such foods. Most fatty foods contain tryptophan which is an essential amino acid, that is used by the brain to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Serotonin reduces anxiety to create a sense of happiness and well-being.
To Reduce the Craving: Eating healthy foods like a pack of carrot sticks, avocados, and nuts will reduce your craving for crunchy and oily foods. Including dark green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and kale in your diet will help increase the calcium levels in the body. Any kind of vigorous physical activity is known to release endorphins that enlighten your mood.
Tips to Tackle the Cravings
✔ Following a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet will ensure that the body gets a continuous supply of all the essential nutrients. Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eating fish, poultry, and meat will also help in reducing the deficiency of the vitamin or mineral in the body.
✔ Engage in some other activity so that you get distracted and forget about the craving.
✔ Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water daily. Water helps flush out the toxins from the body. Your metabolism improves which is vital for good health. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation may also increase the craving for certain foods.
✔ Do not give in to emotional eating or use it to beat boredom, stress, dissatisfaction, anger, disappointment, or indifference. It will do you more harm than good.
✔ Try to avoid succumbing to the cravings and if you do, be careful and don’t over indulge. If your willpower is strong and you take smaller portions of the food, you can overcome your food cravings.
Cravings are the body’s way of conveying its needs to you. Understanding the reason behind your food craving will tell you what you can do about it. Adopt a healthy lifestyle and eat right so that you do not deprive the body of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs.