Those food cravings that hit you suddenly in the late in the afternoon or while watching television at night could actually signal nutritional deficiencies. For example, craving chocolate could mean you have a magnesium deficiency, and craving salty snacks could signify an electrolyte imbalance.
According to the Daily Mail, Australian nutritionist Lee Holmes says ongoing cravings are often caused by essential mineral deficiencies, which can lead to health problems over time.
“When it comes to nutrition, one of the greatest obstacles people face is the ‘battle of the appetite and cravings’,” she said. “Sometimes when you are not giving your body what it needs, it can pull out the placards and protest!”
Here’s what food cravings could mean and what you can do to correct the nutritional imbalance:
• Chocolate. If you are yearning for chocolate your body wants magnesium. Eat nuts, seeds, dark green vegetables, and fruit to satisfy your needs.
• Sugary foods and drinks. You may be lacking in trace minerals such, as chromium, tryptophan, and phosphorus, all of which are needed for energy and cell repair, if you crave sugar, says Holmes. Eat more chicken, cheese, grapes, dark green vegetables, sweet potatoes, nuts, and grains. Craving candy may also indicate you are prediabetic if the cravings are accompanied by an urgency to urinate, says Joseph Colella M.D., a Pittsburgh-based surgeon and author. See your doctor for a blood test if you are concerned.
• Bread and pasta. According to 123 Nourish Me, these food cravings mean your body wants more protein and nitrogen. Eat red meat, beans, chia seeds and fatty fish. On the other hand, experts tell Cosmopolitan that it could also mean that you are not getting enough carbohydrates to properly fuel the body. The brain needs the equivalent of about three cups of pasta per day to function properly.
• Oily or fried foods. Craving the greasy stuff signals a need for more calcium, say experts. Eat green leafy vegetables, lentils, organic milk, and cheese.
• Salty foods. Craving salty snacks could indicate a need for more chloride and silicon. Stock up on cashew nuts, seeds, and fatty fish. It could also reveal an electrolyte imbalance, says Holmes, which could occur after exercise or from being dehydrated. “When a person loses too much sodium from vigorous exercise, their body may begin to crave salt,” she explains. “Zinc and iron deficiency may also contribute to salt cravings.” Drinking enough water or downing a sports drink could help.
• Fizzy drinks and soda water. Holmes says that this craving could be an indication of a lack of calcium in the body. Instead of giving in to this craving, drink milk, or eat plums, kale, and broccoli with a meal. Other foods rich in calcium include yogurt, leafy greens, and most cheeses, says the Daily Mail.
• Ice cream. If you are desperate for a Rocky Road fix, it may be caused by taking too many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers like ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve). Colella explains these drugs can cause some inflammation in the stomach and an ice cream craving could be your body’s signal that it needs a break.
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