Most women report food cravings at some point in their lives, especially in their child-bearing years. (Men are less prone to food cravings – those lucky devils.) What you’re craving may just reveal something about you, and not just that you are a choc-a-holic.
We’re taking a look at what your food cravings say about you and how you can combat them…that is if you want to. Sometimes food cravings are helping you rebalance your body or are a warning sign of a nutritional need. While the food you are craving may not be the healthiest choice, it can be an eye-opening sign that you need a dietary boost.
Here’s what your food cravings say about you:
We had to start with chocolate because this is a very common craving among women. Food cravings for chocolate and other sweets can signal several things. First, your serotonin (happy hormone) levels may be low and your cortisol (stress hormone) may be high. Sugar triggers lots of happiness chemicals that combat feelings of sadness and stress, but only temporarily. You may need that sugar rush because you are low on energy, but after it wears off you might come crashing down. Also, chocolate contains magnesium, a mineral deficiency that is especially common during menstruation. So if you crave chocolate around your period, you may want to grab a dark chocolate bar (at least 70% cacao or higher), the healthier choice for chocolate and sweets cravings.
Salty foods may indicate that you are dehydrated. If you workout frequently or otherwise sweat a lot, you’re probably losing a lot of salt. Sodium helps rebalance your electrolytes and fluids. Bur rather than a bagful of chips or pretzels, try veggie juice, pickles or seaweed crackers that can replenish your salt more healthfully. Also, drink plenty of water and replace other lost electrolytes too.
Your dentist may tell you that chomping on ice is bad for your teeth. It also may be a sign of iron-deficient anemia. Medically known as pagophagia, this condition is somewhat odd because ice doesn’t contain any iron but it might help keep ice crunchers awake – fatigue is a common symptom of anemia. More productive ways to combat anemia are consuming iron rich foods like lean red meat, beans and nuts.
If you’ve spent any time on a low carb diet, a craving for carbohydrates may be all-too-familiar. The human body needs carbohydrates for energy and to help absorb other nutrients like the amino acid tryptophan. When you crave bread, you may be missing out on some vital nutrients. Rather than deprive yourself of carbs, select smarter choices like whole grain breads and pastas, brown rice and quinoa.
It’s no surprise that craving meat is a sign of iron deficiency. If you’re dreaming about a juicy burger or dense steak, have your blood iron levels checked and consider adding more iron into your diet. You can do this through leaner cuts of grass-fed beef, or other sources such as beans, dried fruits and green leafy vegetables.
When you’re stressed you may have a tendency to clench your jaw. Chomping on crunchy foods helps relieve this tension or at least makes it feel more comfortable than a tight jaw grinding down on your teeth. Of course a better way to handle stress is through meditation, relaxation, therapy and breathing techniques rather than relying on food for comfort. If you do have a craving to crunch, try raw veggies or fortified whole grain cereals.
Drinking water is awesome but if you have a sudden increase in desire for it, this could be a sign of blood glucose imbalance. Your body may be trying to release sugar into your urine to rebalance, which means you will have to urinate more often. Then you’ll be dehydrated and crave water. Talk to your doctor and have your blood sugar levels tested if you experience a craving for water.
Over-indulging is a common sign of being over-hungry or over-tired…or both. This ugly combo can lead to consuming excessive calories with little nutritional value. If you feel super hungry, try eating more frequent smaller meals during the day and make sure you are getting enough sleep.
Sources: Prevention and Eat This, Not That