Ever craved a burger so badly you dropped everything to go get one because you just had to have it? Food cravings are extremely common, but not random at all. Desperately craving chocolate or dreaming about potato chips is actually your body’s way of telling you’re low on essential vitamins and minerals.
Don’t confuse hunger with serious food cravings, either. When you’re feeling hungry it’s totally normal to want your favorite foods, but a real food craving is more extreme. Just ask a pregnant woman! Your stomach controls hunger, while your brain controls food cravings. When you’re experiencing food cravings because your body needs more of certain nutrients, you’ll go to extreme lengths to satisfy it.
So what do common food cravings like chocolate, red meat, and carbohydrates tell you about your body?
Read on to find out what the five most common food cravings are and what nutrients it means your body might be missing.
If you’re looking for healthier ways to satisfy those cravings, we’ve got you covered on that too!
Chocolate is high in magnesium. The extreme urge to bite into a chocolate bar might just mean that you have a magnesium deficiency. While some experts say that up to eighty percent of Americans have a magnesium deficiency, it’s more common for women to crave chocolate. Especially when it’s that time of the month.
Regularly drinking caffeinated beverages, taking antibiotics, calcium supplements, indulging in too much cannabis and experiencing high levels of stress can all lead to magnesiums deficiency. These factors create more acid in the stomach which robs your body of magnesium while trying to alkalize and makes it more difficult to absorb key nutrients. Besides a serious chocolate craving, early signs of a magnesium deficiency includes: headaches, nausea, fatigue, muscle weakness, foggy thinking and memory issues.
Luckily, there are plenty of healthy ways to indulge your chocolate cravings. Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium and chromium, b vitamins and essential fatty acids. You can add chocolate powder to your morning smoothies, indulge in a dark chocolate bar, or try sprinkling it on oatmeal. Dark leafy greens, brown rice and pumpkins seeds are also healthy ways to add more magnesium into your diet.
If your most common food craving is for a bag of salty potato chips, it can mean chronic stress is affecting your adrenal glands or your extremely dehydrated. In more serious cases, salt cravings can indicate kidney disease or Addison’s disease, health conditions related to the body’s ability to regulate hormones and maintain the right balance of electrolytes.
We find the adrenal glands on top of the kidneys. They help give you energy and cope with stress. When you experience too much stress, these glands get worn out and try to get you to feed them sodium chloride, the fancy name for salt. To deal with stress, try meditating and practicing breathing exercises and yoga. A study at the University of Utah found that people who practiced meditation before reaching for salty foods could reduce stress hormones by 25% and cut food binging in half.
You can also combat salt cravings with foods rich in b vitamins like nuts, seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. If you are going to indulge in salt, stick to healthier versions like sea salt and limit your consumption.
Sugar is one of the most common food cravings and also one of the most annoying. Indulging in too much sugar can be a serious bummer for your waistline. It causes several serious health issues, including the development of cancer according to new research. So what does a sugar craving mean?
It usually means you’re experiencing blood sugar imbalance or mineral deficiencies like chromium and magnesium. A study also found that people who weren’t getting enough sleep had more sugar cravings. Your body’s constant craving for sweets is it’s a way of telling you it needs an energy boost.
While sugar is a necessary nutrient your body needs, there are healthier ways to get energy than baked goods or candy. Instead of reaching for a sugary treat next time you have a craving, try getting your sugar fix from fruit, honey, or sweet potatoes.
If you’re always reaching for carbohydrates like bread, potato chips, and doughy pastries, it could be a sign of insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, or a chromium deficiency. Craving carbs can also mean you’re not getting enough fiber in your diet. We need fiber to regulate blood sugar levels, and not getting enough can lead to the onset of diabetes.
Next time your craving an entire bag of chips try eating foods rich in fiber and chromium first. Foods rich in fiber include black beans, lentils, oatmeal, pears, and blackberries. For more chromium in your diet try adding bananas, apples, spinach, and swiss chard to your diet. If you want a healthy alternative to white bread, think about making your own bread from scratch. Check out our list of the best bread makers that will change your life and cravings!
5. Red Meat
Craving a burger or a steak usually means an iron deficiency. Menstruating and pregnant women are especially prone to iron deficiencies. It’s common for some women who have been a vegetarian for years to suddenly crave red meat when they’re pregnant. That’s because red meat is high in iron.
Iron is an important nutrient that supports your body’s immune system. Not getting enough of it can lead to fatigue, lowered immune health and overall weakness. Reaching for a burger or a steak when you’re having a craving can be healthy. Just limit your fat intake and try to use hormone and antibiotic free meats. If you’re a vegetarian, try adding other iron-rich foods like beans, spinach, and dried fruit.
If you experience extreme food cravings consistently, it’s important to let your doctor know. While food cravings can point to nutrition deficiencies, the only way to know what the actual causes are is to get tested by a doctor.
Thinking of using supplements to manage a nutrient deficiency? Here are the 5 Reasons to Avoid Multi Vitamins and Get Nutrients Naturally Instead.