We’ve all experienced food cravings. These powerful desires for certain foods can be difficult to divert your mind from, and usually involve indulging in something sweet, salty, creamy, crunchy, carb-filled or fried. Once it’s on your mind, you feel like you’ve just got to have it. But have you ever wondered why this weird craving hits you out of the blue?
Oftentimes when we crave unhealthy or strange foods, it’s a sign that something is missing from our diets. Here are a few of the most common cravings and the nutrients that may be lacking from your body.
When the craving to bite into a bar of chocolate, it may be a sign that you’re in need of magnesium, chromium, B-vitamins or essential fatty acids. Chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, with the highest forms coming from 100 percent cocoa. Grab it in powder form and add to your morning smoothie, opt for cocoa nibs to sweeten your oatmeal, or buy a dark chocolate bar that’s at least 75 percent cocoa. Your chocolate craving may also be the result of an emotional need, as it is metabolized to serotonin.
When you can’t get the thought of biting into a chewy baguette, inhaling a giant bowl of pasta, or sucking down a slice of pizza out of your mind, it might be a sign of insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, chromium deficiency or fatigue. Craving processed flours like white breads, crackers, noodles, chips and more could be a sign that you need to include more fiber in your diet for better blood sugar control. Additionally, you may need to consume more chromium and magnesium-rich fruits and vegetables like bananas, apples, apricots, spinach, avocado, broccoli, celery and chard.
Related: 5 Ways To Stop Emotional Eating
It’s one of the most annoying cravings, especially when you’re trying to watch your weight and maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. Plus, consuming too much added sugar is associated with a slew of health concerns, including cancer. But before you give into cakes, candy, cookies and sugary drinks, be aware that this craving may indicate blood sugar imbalances and mineral deficiencies like chromium and magnesium. If you really want you sugar fix, opt for healthier options like real fruit. You’re also likely to get a sugar craving if you’re dehydrated, in which case, get your water fix!
Can’t get enough salt on your food? Dying for a big bag of salt and vinegar chips? This craving may be the result of stress hormone fluctuations and low levels of electrolytes. When it comes to stress, B-vitamin rich foods are essential, so get your fill of nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you need to increase your electrolytes, coconut water is an excellent choice, just make sure you opt for an unflavored variety without any added sugar or other ingredients.
5. Fried Foods
When you want to indulge in fried foods or other oily options, it may be a sign that you have an essential fatty acid deficiency. Make sure to eat more good quality fats and oils like salmon, avocado, nuts and nut butters, olive oil, coconut milk, coconut oil and flax seed. Steer clear of saturated and trans-fats present in things like French fries, margarine, and packaged chips and cookies. These foods increase the amount of harmful LDL cholesterol in the bloodstream and reduce the amount of beneficial HDL cholesterol, which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic conditions.
6. Coffee Or Tea
While many of us can’t imagine morning without a cup of Joe or a green tea, the incessant desire for it may mean more than you needing your caffeine fix. It could indicate a sulfur or iron deficiency, in which case you can get back on track with leafy greens like kale, spinach and cabbage. Consuming more vitamin C makes way for better iron absorption.
7. Soda/Carbonated Beverages
Really want a fizzy soft drink to gulp down? It may mean your body actually needs more calcium. Along with the unhealthy added sugars in soda, many forms also implement dangerous chemicals—both of which have been linked to various health issues, including obesity and cancer.
8. Red Meat
Hankering for a hamburger? Can’t get the thought of a savory steak out of your mind? Maybe you’re a vegetarian or someone who eats and thinks about meat rarely, yet the slight smell of red meat suddenly makes you go crazy. It’s not surprising that a craving for red meat is an indication of iron deficiency, which can lead to fatigue, lowered immune health and overall weakness. Consume more beans, legumes, spinach and dried fruit when this type of craving hits.
9. Non-Food Items
Cravings for things like ice, clay, dirt and chalk are absolutely unusual in your everyday world, but if it comes on, then you know something’s up. This type of desire is often linked with an iron deficiency or mineral deficiency in general. Get your fill of dark leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds to prevent this type of craving, referred to as pica.