When we think about food cravings, we tend to think about them in a relatively negative light. We think about the impact they have on our efforts to lose weight when they seem to be telling you that you want nothing more than a bag of chips or that candy bar you’ve hidden in your desk drawer at work.
That said, not everything about the bad reputation of cravings is true. Sometimes they’re actually telling you something more important about your nutritional needs. There are times when you should listen to what they’re saying so you can better understanding what might be lacking in your diet at the moment.
The following are some of the more common cravings and what they may be telling you about what your body needs.
When all you can think about is chocolate, it could actually be an indication that you’re in need of B-vitamins, chromium, magnesium or essential fatty acids. Add a tablespoon or two of pure cocoa powder to your morning smoothie or post-workout protein shake to get the most benefit from satisfying your craving. If you do choose to have it in the form of a chocolate bar, don’t choose anything under 75 percent cocoa.
A hankering for something sweet can be very frustrating when you’re trying to live healthfully or keep your weight under control. Sugars can add to inflammation and can increase your risk of a range of health problems. They can also spike your blood sugar only to cause a crash later on. That said, you’re most likely to crave sugar when your blood is imbalanced in minerals such as magnesium or chromium. Alternately, many people crave sugars when they’re dehydrated. So before you reach for candy, try drinking a glass of water, instead. If you still want something sweet, have some fresh fruit, particularly berries.
If you can’t stop thinking about salty foods, it could be that your stress hormones are fluctuating and your electrolyte levels are off. To satisfy this need, look for foods that are high in B-vitamins such as nuts, legumes, seeds, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Coconut water is a great option for returning your electrolyte levels to where they should be. Avoid the sports drinks. The sugar they contain will only create a new range of issues.
• Red meat
Struggling to get through your day because you know you’re having burgers for dinner and you can’t wait? It could be that you’re low in iron. Being anemic can cause you to be fatigued, can weaken you overall and can reduce your immune health. When these cravings strike, look to spinach, legumes, beans, or even a small amount of dried fruit to return your iron levels to where they should be.