We’ve all had food cravings for a lot of different foods at different times. While our food cravings could seem annoying at times, they shouldn’t be ignored. Our body is communicating that it needs a certain nutrient that it could be deficient in. And even though the craving could seem odd or unhealthy, your body is looking for the nutrients that come from a certain food, rather than the food itself. Once you eat something with that nutrient, your cravings can lessen and subside, if your body got the amount it needed. And, if you’re eating enough of that nutrient your body needs, the amount of times your body will crave a certain food can lessen or not happen as often.
Here are some common food cravings and what your body could really need.
Chocolate cravings usually mean your body is craving more magnesium. Cocoa is high in magnesium, which plays a huge role in many enzyme reactions and processes in the body. If you want to get your magnesium fix with chocolate, choose organic chocolate that has a higher percentage of cocoa and is lower in sugar. You can also get magnesium from organic leafy greens, beans, and nuts. In addition to foods, you can also get magnesium by supplementing with powdered magnesium drinks, pills, magnesium lotions, or you can take an epsom salt bath.
If you’re craving salty foods, your body could be craving the sodium more than the actual salted food. Sodium is an electrolyte, which helps carry electric charge in the body. Sodium also helps keep the fluid levels in your body in balance, as well as healthy nerve and muscle function. You’re constantly losing sodium when you sweat and urinate. Especially if you’re active and sweating and drinking lots of water, you’ll need to replenish your sodium supply.
You can satisfy this craving by adding some unrefined salt to your food, and even a pinch of unrefined salt to your water. Choose salts that are rich in minerals and minimally processed like Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt.
Your body could also be craving chloride, another electrolyte that is important for the body’s fluid levels and charge. Good sources of chloride include sustainably caught fish, seaweed, unrefined sea salts, lettuce and olives.
If you’ve been craving red meat, your body could be craving iron. You can satisfy this craving with organic, grass fed ruminant animals like beef, pork, or bison. Pasture raised poultry can also help the craving as well. You can also enjoy other foods high in iron, like sustainably caught seafood, seaweed, dark leafy greens, legumes and quinoa.
A craving for bread can mean your body could need nitrogen. Foods that are good sources of nitrogen are high protein foods, like sustainably caught seafood, grass fed and pasture raised meat, organic nuts or legumes.
Oily or Fatty Foods
If you’re craving oily and fatty foods, your body is craving fat. Your body needs fat in order to run, keep your cells healthy, protect your organs and many other functions. You can satisfy this craving with higher quality fats like avocado, coconut oil, grass fed butter or ghee, sustainably caught seafood, grass fed and pasture raised meat, or organic nuts and seeds. You can also supplement with a high quality fish oil supplement. Craving fatty or oily foods could also mean you body is low in calcium, which you can get from leafy greens, broccoli, legumes and sesame seeds.
When you feel strong food cravings come on, try one or two suggestions above and see how your body responds. Cutting down on processed foods and upgrading them to minimally processed, nutrient dense whole foods can help curb more sugary, refined carb cravings. If sugar is a bigger issue, consider cutting out sugar for 30 days to see how your body responds.
Whole30 and The 21 Day Sugar Detox are great options to consider if you want to learn more and get some additional guidance. Whatever you’re craving, by listening to your body, you’re one step closer to really supporting a healthier life.
Aimée Suen is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner who shares nourishing, gluten-free recipes and nutrition wisdom at Small Eats. She is driven to help others enjoy whole foods and empower them to find their own healthy in all aspects of life, one small step at a time. When she’s not in the kitchen, she’s practicing yoga, in the gym, or learning something new. You can find Aimée on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
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