Have you ever wondered why you might be craving certain foods and what it means?
A food craving is defined as an intense desire to eat a certain food. Humans typically tend to crave energy-dense foods such as chocolate, salty chips or deep-fried, greasy foods. The difference between hunger and a craving is that a food craving can generally only be satisfied by the consumption of a specific food, while hunger can be relieved by the consumption of most foods.
Studies show that short-term, selective food restriction leads to increased cravings for those specific avoided foods, so it’s important to check in and see whether dieting or food restriction could be triggering your cravings.
Other times, there could be a hidden nutritional message behind your cravings. Let’s take a look at some common ones and what your body could really be asking for!
Chocolate = Magnesium
Chocolate contains many active constituents which can potentially cause abnormal behaviours and psychological sensations that are similar to those of other addictive substances. A mix of chocolate’s sensory properties, nutrient composition, psychoactive ingredients and an individual’s hormonal fluctuations may create a desire for chocolate cravings. Cacao is a rich source of magnesium, and it has been suggested that chocolate consumption may be due to magnesium deficiency.
Meat = Iron
The benefits of a vegetarian and vegan diet have been well established, with lower incidences of several health conditions. However, vegetarians, vegans and those who don’t consume adequate amounts of meat are at a higher risk of deficiency of nutrients such as vitamin B12 and iron. You may notice that if you haven’t consumed iron-rich foods for an extended period, or if you experience a heavy menstrual cycle, low energy and fatigue, that you may experience cravings for red meat. Load up on iron-containing foods or look for a quality supplement.
Coffee = B Vitamins
Although the consumption of low to moderate doses of caffeine is safe, an increasing number of studies are showing that some caffeine consumers are becoming more dependent on the drug for energy and struggle to reduce consumption. If you find yourself craving coffee, it could be useful to support your energy levels in other ways. Supplementing with certain herbs and nutrients may reduce the reliance on caffeine for energy. It has been shown that ginseng increases energy produced in the brain and that B vitamins support nervous system function and energy production.
Salt = Hydration
A sodium deficiency can trigger the activation of specific hormonal systems and neurons in the brain that evoke a craving for salty foods, and a state of reward when salty foods are consumed. A deficiency in sodium may be linked with impaired cognition and fatigue and can result in a state of dehydration and reduced total body fluid. To replace fluids, try a large bottle of infused water that you sip on. Keep it somewhere nearby like on your desk if you’re working. Add a pinch of Himalayan salt for extra electrolytes.
Fried Food = Quality Fats
If you find yourself craving greasy, fried fast foods, it may be because you’re not including enough fats into your diet. Good quality healthy fats contain unsaturated fatty acids, as opposed to saturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fats help to keep us fuller for longer, plus they contain anti-inflammatory benefits required for skin, joint, muscle, heart and brain health. If you find it difficult to include foods like oily fish, avocado, extra virgin olive oil, eggs, nuts and seeds into your diet, you may like to chat to your health practitioner and explore a fish oil supplement to get your Omega-3 fatty acids.
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The information presented in this blog has been researched and written by our health team. It is intended for general information purposes only and should not be taken as health advice. Always consult a health professional for guidance on taking any supplements.