Have you ever wondered why sometimes you feel compelled to eat chocolates or why you just cannot hold yourself back from having potato fries loaded with salt? We all have our shares of cravings, which are often unruly. Cravings are a strong desire for certain foods or flavors. According to surveys almost 100% of young women and 70% of young men experience some sort of food cravings in a year. Our food cravings have a lot to say, so let us try to understand our cravings and what secret message they intend to give us. Food craving can be understood as a strong desire to eat a specific food.
These cravings can be either selective for a specific food or can also be non-selective for anything, they are usually uncontrollable. While experts say these cravings can last only for about 3 to 5 minutes but to our despair, food cravings can act as a roadblock in maintaining a healthy diet. It has been proved that the part of the brain responsible for reward, memory, and pleasure is also accountable for causing food cravings. According to research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center, 3 regions of the brain – the hippocampus, caudate and insula seems to be activated during episodes of food craving.
We all have food cravings, so let make an effort to understand them. Recurrent cravings for a particular food may often indicate underlying deficiencies. You can easily reduce your cravings by identifying them and replacing them with healthy options.
Research shows that chocolate cravings are related to a deficiency in magnesium in the body. Magnesium is an essential mineral, more than 300 biochemical reactions are dependent on magnesium in our body. Magnesium helps in maintaining muscle and nerve-muscle function. It also helps in regulating blood pressure and maintains blood glucose levels. Since raw cacao beans are a natural source of magnesium, it is obvious that our body will crave for chocolates in case of deficiency of magnesium. You can easily satisfy your chocolate cravings by including yogurt, spinach, raisins, kidney beans, black beans, nuts like almonds, cashews, and peanuts. fruits and whole grains are also a good source of magnesium.
If you find yourself craving red meat like grilled steak, burgers, etc, you could have an iron deficiency. It is believed that chewing on ice is also a significant indicator of iron deficiency. Try to include spinach, dried fruits, and legumes in your meal to help in your meat cravings.
If you find yourself longing for salted popcorns or fried savor chips or you dream about munching that salt-laden bagel, it may be a sign that you are feeling stressed or are having chloride deficiency. Salt cravings usually indicate an imbalance in vital minerals in the body. One often experiences them after excessive diarrhea, sweating, or an episode of severe vomiting. Include tomatoes, celery, olives in your diet. Handle your stress with the help of meditation, exercise, or take a nature walk.
If you find yourself weak to say no to pasta, white bread, and pastries even after having a meal you might have chromium deficiency. Chromium deficiency can be easily solved by including apples, cinnamon, grapes, onions in your diet.
Craving peanut butter could indicate many things like, you are consuming a low-fat diet, or you are eating a low carb diet, it also indicates high-stress levels. Your body is signaling that you need a more high-quality diet, include avocados or almonds. Peanut butter is loaded with beta-sitosterol, it is compound which balances hormones in body and fight stress.
Craving spicy food like chili means your body needs to cool. Though it is strange to believe, remember spicy food induces sweat which causes a cooling effect in the body. consider drinking a glass of water when you crave for spicy food. Likewise, congestion in sinus may also cause a craving for spicy food.
Sugar craving often sends an important message regarding deficiency of Vitamins like vitamin B12, folic acid. Desperate sugar cravings reflect an imbalance in blood sugar levels in the body, often low blood sugar levels. Try to include “slow-release carbs” in your diet, they will keep your blood sugar levels even and will avoid sugar spike.
We often ignore the hidden message behind our food cravings. It’s vital to pay attention to your cravings, they indicate deficiencies in your body. Avoid getting too hungry, skipping a meal when you are actually hungry can lead to overeating and craving for quick-fix food like chips and chocolates. Maintain a craving journal, you can list the emotions, time, and food you crave. This will help you in identifying your triggers and patterns of eating. So, next time if you crave chocolate or potato chips, reconsider your options and choose a healthy alternative.
Dr Reena Prajapat is a dentist, she post graduated in hospital management from Apollo Institute of hospital Administration, Hyderabad. Her strong belief in natural and home remedies lead her to Pursue bachelor in naturopathy.