Common Food Cravings

Everyone is familiar with the experience of craving a particular food, but why does this happen? Is it just in our mind? Is our body telling us something?

Here is a list of common food cravings and what they likely mean for you. As well, I suggest solutions for overcoming the cravings (aside from binging on your desired treat).

Chocolate

The most common reason for craving chocolate is that the body is lacking magnesium. Since chocolate is high in tryptophan, some people also seek the serotonin-high that comes after eating chocolate.

Foods rich in magnesium that you can snack on instead include:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, kale)
  • Seeds and nuts (pumpkin, squash, and sesame seeds; brazil and pine nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans and walnuts)
  • Beans and lentils (if you eat them)
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Dried fruits (prunes, apricots, dates, raisins)

Salty Food

If your salt craving isn’t due to an Salty Snacksunderlying medical condition like Addison’s disease, it may point to the fact that you (and your body) are overly stressed. Stress overloads the adrenal glands, releases cortisol, leads to ill-health and reduces life-expectancy.

Minimizing or eliminating stressors, meditation and positive-thinking, yoga, exercise and physical activity, as well as getting enough early (in bed before 11PM) sleep can all reduce stress levels. Taking a nutrient supplement (especially vitamin C – 500-2000 mg/day and B-complex with 1500 mg B5) can support depleted adrenal glands, as can avoiding caffeine, refined sugar and processed foods.

Ice

Ice cravings are usually a sign ice popsof anemia (iron deficiency).  Ask your healthcare provider to check for anemia and assure that you are getting enough iron in your diet as well as supporting sufficient nutrient absorption with good digestive health. Iron-rich foods include:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard, kale)*
  • Peas, green beans and broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Strawberries, watermelon and dried fruits (prunes, apricots, dates, raisins)
  • Whole grains (corn, oat, wheat, rye)
  • Tomatoes
  • Beans, lentils, tofu
  • Maple syrup and molasses

*Consuming foods high in vitamin C (tomatoes, citrus, strawberries, kiwi, peppers), along with these iron-rich foods, will increase iron absorption.

Cheese

Cheese cravings may be a sign that you cheeseare not getting enough fatty acids (omega 3) in your diet.

Foods rich in good omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Flax seeds or flax seed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans or tofu

Spicy Foods

Is it hot outside or are you feeling hot? If you are running warm, you may crave spicy foods as a way of causing you to perspire and thus cool off.  Make sure you are staying cool (get in the shade, create a breeze, undress or dress with breathable, light-colored fabrics). Get plenty of fluids! I find that most people who believe they are properly hydrated, really are not. The average sized person should be getting around 2.5 liters (10.5 cups or 82 oz) of fluids per day. If you eat a mostly fresh, plant-based diet, you will get about 20% of this amount from your diet.

Many other factors can increase this amount, including:

  • What is your body mass? Bigger spicy-corn-chips-people need more water.
  • How much do you exercise and sweat? More equals a need to drink more fluids.
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding? If so you need to increase your fluid consumption.
  • Are you at a high altitude or in a dry, hot, or cold climate? All of these conditions increase your need for fluids.
  • Do you consume alcohol? Doing so increases your need for water.
  • Do you have a fever or diarrhea? Always consume extra fluids when ill.

Sweet & Salty Foods or Sugar

Either of these cravings can be a sign that your blood sugar is low. Also, like chocolate, sugar (and all carbohydrates really) stimulate the release of serotonin and other endorphins.

You can prevent hypoglycemia by Assorted Junk Fooddoing the following:

  • Make breakfast (or an early lunch) your largest meal of the day
  • Eat either a meal or small snack regularly throughout the day (every two hours)
  • Be sure to eat within two hours of performing strenuous physical activity and soon afterward. Get plenty of fluids and avoid being overheated while exercising.
  • Avoid too many simple carbs or refined sugars and processed foods which can cause blood sugar swings

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