Food cravings can arise from old habits or memories. For example, the cookie you saw suddenly resembled your favorite pastry from childhood. And the cheese sold in the market smells like you’re back in the little French farm you visited last year. And you want to try it all immediately. However, there are situations when the unbearable desire to eat French fries is associated with a lack of nutrients. How to determine which micronutrients your body lacks, and how to replace food to meet the body’s requirements?
This is how your body signals an imbalance of vitamins, nutrients, and trace elements. You shouldn’t be tempted to eat junk food. This will temporarily relieve your condition, but it will not solve the problem of nutrient deficiencies. You just need to replace certain foods to make up for the lack.
Where does this uncontrollable appetite come from, why sometimes you want something salty, and other times you want sweet food? Want to know what your cravings mean? Let’s take a look at the cravings chart together! I will help you recognize which nutrients your body is missing. So, if you crave for…
A constant craving for sweets may indicate a lack of phosphorus and chromium. Chromium is responsible for the proper absorption of sugar, and its deficiency leads to fatigue and even depression. Phosphorus helps build healthy and strong bones and has a positive effect on the nervous system. Phosphorus is present in cheese and fish, while chromium is found in bran, nuts, and meat. Additionally, both ingredients can be found in cereals.
Craving for meat can result from the poor quality of the protein you consume, lack of it (if you are a vegetarian), and a lack of essential micronutrients found in animal protein: zinc, iron, B12, and Omega-3. What should you do if you crave a burger with a juicy patty but also struggle for weight loss? Lean on fish and poultry – they are high in iron and low in calories.
The body may also be deficient in zinc, responsible for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Not only red meat contains large amounts of this mineral, but also shellfish and cheese. Even though it is a red meat that is the largest source of iron and zinc, it does not mean that the diet of vegetarians is inadequate. In this case, to eat a balanced diet, you need to devote more time to developing your nutrition.
For example, iron is sufficient in tofu, mushrooms, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits. There is a lot of zinc in lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and whole-grain bread. Vegetable iron is absorbed several times worse than an animal one, so combine these foods with those that contain vitamin C (citrus fruits, sauerkraut, peppers, currants), as it promotes its better processing.
Sudden cravings for chocolate, especially bitter ones, may indicate a lack of magnesium in the body. Magnesium is a nutrient that soothes our body – it reduces cramps, has a positive effect on sleep, and conquers fatigue.
An appetite for cheese can be a sign of a fatty acid deficiency. The essential fatty acids are Omega-3 and Omega-6. Omega-3 is found in fatty fish: salmon, herring, trout, mackerel, sea bass, sardines, and seafood. Vegetable oils, flax and chia seeds, and walnuts are also good options.
Omega-6 fatty acids are essential for your body, so they must be consumed regularly. However, Omega-6 is much easier to obtain from food than Omega-3. Therefore, do not worry about the lack of this lipid in the diet.
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in soy, corn, sunflower oil, nuts and seeds, meat, fish, eggs, and fatty mayonnaise-based sauces and baked goods.
Pasta and Bread
Cravings for pasta and bread may indicate a nitrogen deficiency. Nitrogen strengthens our immune system and has a relaxing effect. Hair loss can be a physical sign of its absence. Dairy foods, as well as fish, nuts, and soybeans, are good sources of nitrogen.
Cravings for simple carbohydrates can indicate hypoglycemia (fluctuating blood sugar levels) and chromium deficiency, leading to constant extreme tiredness and rapid fatigue. To make up for a micronutrient deficiency, eat bananas, apples, apricots, bell peppers, spinach, beets, avocados, broccoli, and carrots.
Also, a sudden craving for starchy foods speaks of a deficiency of tryptophan. It is an amino acid responsible for the synthesis of serotonin – the “hormone of joy.” So nothing is surprising in the fact that, for example, after parting with a loved one, we begin to lean on chocolate cookies. The body reduces the production of serotonin (and, accordingly, tryptophan); we are sad and depressed, which is why the body seeks “support” from the outside and finds it in pastry. Lack of amino acid leads to a bad mood, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Healthy sources of tryptophan are turkey, milk, eggs, cashews, walnuts, cottage cheese, and bananas.
A firm craving for salty snacks may indicate a calcium deficiency. Consumption of sodium, which is found in sodium salt, regularly raises calcium in the blood. Calcium affects the contraction and relaxation of muscles, thereby regulating the work of the entire body. Its deficiency is best supplemented by the consumption of milk or dairy foods.
A sudden craving for salty food could mean we lack electrolytes. Electrolytes are water-soluble salt ions responsible for the conduction of electrical impulses in the body. It is necessary for regulating vital functions. Electrolytes include sodium, which comes from pickles, fish, olives, and cheese. Pickles additionally contain a lot of water, without which the functioning of electrolytes is impossible.
Craving for fried food is nothing more than a cry from the body for help. You may be on a diet and are cutting back on your fat intake. So much so that the body no longer cares where to get it: from healthy foods (nuts, avocados, olives) or from foods with trans fats (french fries are just one of them). How to solve this problem? Eat more “good” fats: fatty fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados.
Do you feel that you won’t live even a second without potatoes? Bake a sweet potato with herbs in the oven and serve with a vegetable salad, drizzled with olive oil. This way, you will satisfy both emotional hunger (the desire to eat potatoes) and physical hunger (the need for fats).
The most common reason you crave spicy food is that your body needs cooling. Why, for example, are Mexican, Indian, and Caribbean cuisines famous for their abundance of spicy dishes? This is because in hot climates, an overheated body needs to cool down. The easiest way to do this is with the help of spices that promote sweat production.
Another cause may be thyroid problems. Capsaicin, found in spicy foods, speeds up the metabolism. The lack of capsaicin can lead to a slowdown in metabolism, and the body will seek to speed it up by eating such food. So, if from time to time you have an intolerable urge to eat spicy curry or salsa, consider visiting an endocrinologist.
What food cravings mean emotionally? Of course, it is also about endorphins. Spicy food causes the release of “hormones of joy,” so here’s an alternative to the wicked chocolate bar!
Avocado, Nuts, Seeds, Oils
At first glance, the desire to eat such healthy foods cannot mean absolutely anything. Well, you want to empty a whole pack of cashews or add two times more pumpkin seeds to a salad. They’re useful!
I am sure that eating an avocado is much better than a pack of French fries, but in this case, a strong desire also signals a malfunction in the body. First of all, it indicates a calorie deficit, a lack of fat, and, as a result, a lack of energy. Women often recklessly cut the amount of fat they consume, leading to disruptions in the hormonal system. So if you are on a strict diet, and you suddenly want to eat a handful of nuts, do not resist because this is not an impulse but a need.
Want to crunch something? Nutritionists identify two reasons for understanding food cravings. First, you are under stress: crunching helps relieve the tension a little. Second, you mostly eat liquid food (smoothies, soups, yogurts), and your salivary glands and jaws get bored. After a day or two, they need stimulation – hence they crave solid food.
Each of us has our taste preferences. Someone loves sweets but is indifferent to salty foods. Someone loves to season almost all dishes with pepper, and some just love to eat lemons. Almost everyone has a craving for certain types of foods, depending on the predominant taste (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, etc.). But sometimes, we suddenly begin to be drawn to taste sensations that are completely unusual for us. It’s here we need to keep our attention because this can signal health problems.
Listen to your body and help it replenish its nutrient deficiencies to relieve unexpected food cravings and control your diet.