You body has amazing ways of communicating with you. Food cravings are not always as simple as nutritional deficiencies, but it can be a part of the puzzle to your overall physical health, well being, hormones and mental health. If you just can’t stop thinking about that bag of salty chip, it might be your body trying to tell you something.
While not every craving can be chalked up to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, it’s worth considering as it could be a clue about how you can help your body feel it’s best. Find out what some of your cravings might mean and help to better understand what your body could be telling you.
Rich & Fatty Foods
If you are craving fatty foods like nuts, fried food, avocados, butter, peanut butter, almond butter, dairy or rich coconut milk based products, then chances are your body is in need of more energy. If you are someone who trains rigorously at the gym, if you’re dieting and restricting calories, or if you frequently skip meals or forget to eat, your body is craving fat because it’s starving for more nutrition and energy to function properly. Your brain alone is 60 percent fat! So those peanut butter cravings might be your body letting you know it needs some extra fuel.
If you're craving pretzels, chips, popcorn or other salty foods, as surprising as it sounds it could indicate that you're dehydrated. Our body uses sodium to keep water in our bodies for long enough to hydrate our cells. When you become dehydrated you need a little more salt (and water!) in order to steady your electrolytes. Electrolytes are mineral salts that conduct electricity in your tissues and body and help to retain the water your body need. Try re-hydrating with some coconut water which has a balance of electrolytes that mimics our bodies electrolyte balance.
Craving salt can also mean your body is in need of some minerals like calcium, sodium, magnesium or other trace minerals. You can boost your mineral intake with mineral dense sea vegetables (nori, kelp, dulse) and swap your regular salt for pink himalayan salt which contains over 84 trace minerals.
Craving sugary sweet foods could be pointing to blood sugar imbalances, stress and increased cortisol. A lack of high-quality sleep may also cause you to reach for a donut because, just like fatty foods, our body gets energy from sugar. You brain knows that when you eat that chocolate donut for breakfast, you’ll immediately get a jolt of energy from the high sugar content.
Eating too much sugar can begin a terrible cycle. When you start to over indulge on sugar you get a huge boost of energy, which then leads to a sugar crash leaving you feeling tired and probably a little sad. Your brains wants another energy boost to make you feel better, so it tells you to crave that second, third or fourth donut, only to inevitably lead to another crash shortly after, making you want yet another sugary treat. This leads to blood sugar imbalance and can leave you feeling miserable.
If your sugar cravings are overwhelming, it might be a good time to think about how you are managing stress, if you’re sleeping well, and if your eating habits are healthy and balanced
If you can’t stop thinking about pasta, bread, crackers, potatoes or other carb heavy foods it could mean lack of the amino acid tryptophan. Carbohydrates are also usually closely tied to our favorite comfort foods; mom’s dinner rolls, grandma’s apple pie, our favorite pasta dish, and homemade chocolate chip cookies. Because tryptophan is needed to make serotonin, the mood-regulating neurotransmitter, a lack of carbohydrates can lead to low mood and anxiety from the bodies lack of synthesizing tryptophan. If your carb craving seems excessive, take a moment to reflect on what might be going on that’s making you reach for that comfort food.
These are just a few things your body could be clueing you in on. Your body is an amazing and complicated. It needs careful and constant attention throughout your entire life. Help yourself feel its best by learning to tune into your body and find out what it might be trying to tell you.