What do you crave? The saltiness of potato chips, the cool creaminess of ice cream, or the rich flavor of chocolate? Whatever you’re longing for, it may be your body’s way of letting you know you’re missing valuable nutrients. Here’s how to decode your cravings.
All Cravings—Most cravings are actually misinterpretations from our bodies that we are dehydrated. By drinking a tall glass of water first, you may be giving your body exactly what it wants and alleviate the craving altogether. By some estimations, 80 percent of people are chronically dehydrated. So, before you reach for food to nix your cravings, quench them with some water. Then wait half an hour. More often than not, they’ll be gone.
Sweets—If you crave sweets of almost any kind you may be experiencing blood sugar fluctuations. Giving in to pie, candy, cake, or other goodies only makes the problem worse by causing blood sugar roller coasters that lead to more cravings. Instead, choose a piece of fruit when you’re craving sweets. And, regularly choose more high-fiber foods like beans and legumes, and complex carbohydrates like whole grains keep your blood sugar stable.
Salty Foods—Cravings for salty foods like potato chips or popcorn often means chronic stress may be taking a toll on your adrenal glands—two triangular-shaped glands that sit atop the kidneys and give us energy and help us to cope with stress of all kinds. Getting on top of the stress in your life is essential. Try meditation, breathing exercises, or other stress management techniques. Research at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City showed that people who take a break to breathe deeply or meditate before reaching for salty snacks reduced their stress hormones by 25 percent and cut the binging in half.
Chocolate—Cravings for chocolate often indicate that your body may be deficient in magnesium. Many nutritionists estimate that more than 80% of the population is lacking magnesium in their diet, which may explain why so many of us reach for chocolate. While chocolate can contain beneficial antioxidants, they usually come alongside plentiful amounts of sugar. If you eat chocolate be sure to reach for dark chocolate which is usually lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants. Additionally, eat foods high in magnesium, such as nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy greens.
Red Meat—Not surprisingly, cravings for red meat usually indicate an iron deficiency. Often people crave burgers or steaks. Women of menstruation age are especially vulnerable to iron deficiencies. Eat more iron-rich beans and legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs, and other dried fruits.
Cheese—Cravings for cheese or pizza often indicate a fatty acid deficiency, which is common in most people, since few people get enough Omega 3 fatty acids. Reach for raw walnuts, wild salmon, flax oil, and add ground flaxseeds to your diet.
*Image of “cheese” via Shutterstock