How many times have you resolved to eat good healthy food or go on a detox diet and ruined the whole thing with a crazy binge? However much you will yourself to stick to your healthy diet these stupid food cravings just spring out of nowhere and take you by surprise.
The image of the food appears in your mind. You begin to smell it and taste it. Your mouth waters. You crave the food so badly that you cannot concentrate on anything else. But have you ever stopped to think what it might mean?
There have been many explanations for cravings including emotions, stress, hormones, brain chemicals, smells and sightings of certain food, low blood sugar, addiction, allergy and nutritional deficiencies.
There is no doubt that people crave sweet or salty things more than anything else. And chocolate probably comes top of the list of foods that people crave. Why is it that we get cravings for the things that we know are not good for us? (OK, a LITTLE dark chocolate can be good for you). It’s virtually unheard of to get cravings for vegetables isn’t it?
Many nutritionists believe that cravings are the body’s way of telling you that it needs something. So let’s have look at some of the most common food cravings and what they could mean for you.
Women often experience strong cravings for sweet foods several days before their periods. This is thought to be due to the hormonal fluctuations that occur during the monthly cycle but is more often due to a hormonal imbalance.
A drop in blood sugar triggers a craving for a quick sugar fix. This of course is not the answer as the fix only lasts a short time until the release of insulin causes another blood sugar low.
Related reading: Sugar Detox – Supercharge Your Health In 5 Simple Steps
The cure for this is to eat small regular meals that include some protein. Low GI food are the best ones to eat. You don’t have to eat more, just more regularly.
Many dieters have cravings because they have an underlying blood sugar imbalance and going without food for long periods only makes the matter worse. Often there is a deficiency of the mineral chromium.
Chromium is found in healthy food such as broccoli, grapes, whole grains, potatoes, beef, orange juice, turkey, apples, banana, and green beans.
More people crave chocolate than anything else. Certain substances in chocolate may raise the brain chemical serotonin so scientists now believe that chocoholics may actually have a serotonin deficiency.
While chocolate cravings could also be triggered by low blood sugar there is evidence that it is linked with a deficiency of the mineral magnesium. This is a very common deficiency because the foods that the majority of people eat are low in magnesium.
Some experts believe that cravings for sweet foods can be triggered by a diet that is high in protein and fat. Your body is telling you that it needs some carbohydrates. It’s obviously best to get the carbs from fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans.
Cravings for salty food is very common. Processed meals are very high in salt and when you change to more healthy food you might find you miss the salty taste.
Related reading: How To Detox Salt From Your Body
Try flavoring your food with herbs and and spices instead. It can take time for your taste buds to recover their sensitivity to natural flavors. You could use a little natural soy sauce or miso too.
If your food tastes bland without salt you could be low in zinc. This mineral is involved in taste.
Good sources include meat, poultry, eggs, fish, dairy products, mushrooms, spinach and pumpkin seeds.
Another cause of salt craving is weak adrenal glands or low thyroid function. With the stresses of modern living it is not uncommon for our adrenals to be worn out from constantly pumping out the hormones that help us deal with stress.
If you crave spicy food you could be low in zinc. Zinc regulates taste as I have mentioned and you could be craving spicy food to compensate.
Milk is the first food we have as babies so it is often thought of as a comfort food. But there may be more to it. From a scientific point of view milk is high in tryptophan, and amino acid that has a calming and mood improving effect on your body.
When you get a craving for milk and dairy products you might think you lack calcium but it’s more likely that you crave it for emotional and mood improving reasons.
When you crave dairy it could mean you are eating too much sugar, baked goods and meat. Eat more leafy greens, whole grains, beans and fish instead.
Your body functions best with a certain ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrate that is right for you metabolic type. If you eat a diet that is unbalanced for you then you will get cravings for what is lacking.
A high meat diet can result in cravings for alcohol,sugar and coffee.
A diet high in grains can can cause a craving for coffee and salads.
A high fruit diet might cause cravings for salty, sweet foods and protein.
How to deal with cravings
You can get your mineral levels checked with a hair mineral analysis through a reputable laboratory. You will have to go through a nutritionist or other health practitioner to get this done. The correct interpretation of the result is important.
Nutritionists or integrative doctors can also test you for low adrenal or thyroid function to see if you need to support these organs.
Try the food solution
Eat more whole grains, yams and squash, apples, dates and cooked fruit
Eat less meat, salt and dairy products.
Salty food cravings
Eat more vegetables, beans and seaweed. Use more herbs and spices.
Eat less sweet foods, fat, meat, grains and alcohol.
Milk products cravings
Eat more green leafy vegetables, whole grains, beans and fish.
Eat less sugar, meat, fruit and baked products.
Lastly, detox can help with cravings in the long run because it can help get rid of toxins that unbalance your body and can cause cravings. Once your body is well nourished and balanced with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, other plant chemicals that it needs and the right ratio of protein, fat and carbohydrate then cravings disappear.