Health

Why do I have food cravings? Nutrient deficiencies may make you crave

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Ever wondered why you have sudden cravings for chocolate at one time, and cheese at another? Come, find the answer here from an expert.

Struggling with sugar cravings at times? Sometimes salty? Do you feel the urge to eat something constantly? Well, it can be a huge problem, especially if you’re a foodie and if you’re on diet. In some cases, those intense uncontrollable desires for specific foods, stronger than normal hunger, may be indicators of nutritional deficiencies.

No, we’re not kidding at all!

You know, thirst indicates dehydration, and tiredness and fatigue show that you might not be getting enough sleep. For example, in the case of food cravings, a restless craving for chocolate is often a sign of magnesium deficiency. Food cravings are one example of a type of signal your body uses to tell you that it’s out of balance. There are various causes of food cravings such as hormone imbalance, unstable emotions, or pregnancy but it can also indicate that you might be deficient in certain nutrients.

Here’s how nutrient deficiencies cause cravings:

Deeksha Arora, Dietitian, Apollo Spectra Delhi, tells HealthShots, “Yes, nutritional deficiencies can lead to cravings. It has been believed that one’s body tries to fulfill its needs via cravings. Thus, if your body carves for specific foods, that means the body is falling short of that nutrient. Then, you will try to eat those foods that will help you overcome the cravings and deficiency too. ”

Now before you reach out to a burger or chocolate, try to understand what your body is trying to tell you and replace it with something healthier.

Common cravings and what they mean:

1. Chocolate cravings

Have you ever felt restless unless you grab that chocolate piece? Well, chocolate is one of the most favourite foods we hear about. It is packed with sweet, fat from cocoa butter and rich in antioxidants and minerals. Cocoa contains magnesium. So, if you’re craving chocolate that ultimately means your body needs a dose of magnesium. In fact, chocolate craving could also mean your body is deficient in copper, vitamin B, and essential fatty acids.

“Cravings for nuts and beans also indicate that your magnesium levels are low.” So instead of chocolate, consume more nuts, fruits, seeds and avocado,” explains the expert.

Cravings and nutrients deficienciesBefore you drool over that slab of dark chocolate, read what the expert has to say. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Cravings for sugar and sugary foods

Chocolate treats aside, if you are craving other sugary sweets, the most likely reason is that you are lacking in chromium, phosphorus, carbohydrates, sulfur, and maybe your blood sugar level is out of control. In addition, sugar cravings also mean you aren’t experiencing enough joy—that’s why the body craves sweetness. “Because sugary foods raise the levels of the feel-good hormone, serotonin, and you tend to feel good,” says Arora.

Add broccoli, raw onion, green beans, mushroom, tomatoes, etc to your diet.

3. Cravings for bread and toast

Cravings for bread and toast are because of an insufficient amount of nitrogen. If nitrogen loss is greater than nitrogen intake, a negative nitrogen balance is created within the body, thus you crave for foods like bread and toast. To get more nitrogen try getting more nuts, seeds, citrus fruits or dark leafy greens.

4. Cravings for salty foods

If you are craving salty foods, you are most likely lacking sodium. Arora says, “If you crave canned, frozen, and processed foods jam-packed with salt then this means your body needs more sodium. If you have a sodium deficiency, you may crave salty foods. Thus, chips and namkeens will always find a place on your shelf at home. Though this deficiency is rare.” It also means that you are dehydrated, so drink plenty of water regularly.

5. Cravings for cheese or other dairy items

If you feel like eating cheese, tofu or other dairy products, your iron or calcium levels might be low, says Arora. So, the next time you find yourself with cheese dairy products cravings, squash it by eating foods such as soybean, yoghurt, broccoli, legumes, spinach, red meat, etc and foods rich in fatty acids.

Cravings and nutrients deficienciesCraving for dairy products like cheese and butter can be a matter of concern. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Cravings for fatty and oily foods

Craving for fat and fatty foods may be caused by low daily fat intake. Fat is an essential nutrient in healing and replacing cells in your body and it’s vital component in many other bodily functions. Fat savings may also mean that your daily calcium intake is too low. You should consume hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, nuts, leafy greens instead.

7. Cravings for soda

Most likely your craving for soda is more of an emotional eating issue. However, soda can suck calcium from your bones. Calcium is one of the most important minerals for the human body. If you’re lacking calcium, try getting more milk, plums, kale, figs, or broccoli.

So the next time you crave different foods, eat something healthy.

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