Do you often find yourself craving sugar? Ever wondered why we crave sugar and what our food cravings are all about?
Craving genuinely affect us all very differently, and it’s been proven that food craving affect women more than men –hurray for us girls. Let’s explore common food cravings and how to manage them – are they truly hunger based cravings or emotion based cravings? And would you believe me if I told you that nutritional deficiencies may also cause cravings?
First, let’s look at what cravings might mean from a nutritional standpoint.
Fats such as Avocado’s, Nuts, Seeds, Nut Butters, Butter, Coconut Milk Etc.
Craving the above foods may indicate your body is seeking more calories as it may need more energy. Cravings for the above are often common among people on a very low-calorie diet. Our bodies need nutrition and energy to function properly. Because Fats (like the ones listed above) are the highest source of calories per gram – 9 Kcals/1 gram – this could be a sure indicator that your body (especially us girls) is in need of more fat for increasing body fat percentage. Healthy fats have also been proven to normalize imbalances in hormones – hormones are made up of fatty acids and so we all need these which is what your body is indicating with these cravings too.
Salty Foods like Chips, Popcorn, Sea Salt Dark Choc, Celery etc.
Craving the above foods may indicate that you’re actually dehydrated, or that you have an electrolyte imbalance. Seems counterintuitive eh?
Sugary foods like Cakes, Brownies, Fruit, Honey – basically refined sugars of any kind.
There are a number of indicators linked with the above cravings – blood sugar imbalances, low chromium, stress and increased cortisol, lack of quality sleep, hormonal imbalances, and sometimes similar to the healthy fats craving – your body might be in need of more calories and since sugar is easy and quick calories, our bodies can utilize them quickly.
More common with women than men as women often crave chocolate when they are menstruating. Not just for it’s taste, but because Cocoa is actually quite high in Magnesium. Magnesium is a common mineral lost during menstruation. Chocolate and Cocoa however also increase Serotonin levels however (the happy hormone), Dopamine levels (the feel-good hormone) and Oxytocin (the ‘Love’ hormone) which is why our bodies crave them.
Carbohydrates such as Pasta, Bread, Crackers, Wraps Etc.
IF you’re constantly craving these foods, it might indicate that your body lacks the Amino Acid Tryptophan. This is an amino acid needed by our bodies to make the hormone Serotonin (the mood-regulating neurotransmitter). Therefore the lack of carbs can lead to a low mood and anxiety as the body lacks the needed hormone.
If you’re Vegetarian or Vegan, then this will most definitely result in cravings for the above as the low amount of Protein you’re consuming or therefore lack of. There are key minerals found in Meat and Animal Proteins such as Zinc, Iron, B12 and Omega 3’s that the body requires.
My best advice, if you’re craving the above, listen to your body, it has needs and it’s smart when it comes to the foods its craving. Be mindful of food cravings however, and questions to following:
- Food Cravings V Nutrient Needs
- Nourishment V Emotional Eating
If you find yourself with strong food cravings, be mindful and practice being mindful during the cravings and try determine if the root of the craving is stemming from a nutritional need, emotions or a mental trigger?
Remember that foods play many roles in the social, mental and emotional aspects of our lives. Respect all the ways in which food is involved in our lives. Nutrition shouldn’t be all about counting calories, grams of fat or fibre nor eating only for the purpose of sustenance.