Cravings are abnormal, urgent or intense longings or desires. If you are dehydrated, feeling thirsty is your body’s way of telling you to drink water. If you are exhausted, feeling sleepy is your body’s way of telling you to go to bed.
So, a food craving is your body’s way of telling you that you are lacking a certain nutrient. A food craving is an intense desire to eat a certain food. It may be triggered by a nutrient deficiency.
Experts claim that components of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, insula, orbital frontal cortex, anterior cingulate, and amygdala are activated during periods of pining for food. It seems that there’s a network of neural regions that’s involved with the memory, emotion, and chemosensory stimuli of food cravings.
5 Nutrient Deficiencies Associated with Chocolate, Sugar, Salt, Cheese and Refined Carb Cravings:
– Chocolate: Magnesium deficiency
Whether it is the ‘healthy’ dark or the sweet, milky kind, sometimes you just need a chocolate fix. Chocolate cravings seem to be associated with hormonal changes (menstruation,) which’s why women are typically the biggest chocoholics.
However, it may also be an indicator that you are deficient in the mineral magnesium. Dark chocolate is a good source of magnesium. This mineral plays an important role in supporting proper heart function, building healthy bones, boosting energy production, regulating blood pressure, relaxing muscles, relieving anxiety and stress, and more.
That’s why you feel better after consuming a chocolate bar. However, there’re much healthier sources of magnesium than chocolate. Blackstrap molasses, beans, fish, seeds and nuts, and dark leafy greens are packed with this mineral and can help curb chocolate cravings.
– Sugar: Tryptophan, sulfur, phosphorus, carbon, and/or chromium deficiency
There is probably too much sugar in your diet, but when you are desperate for a mid-morning donut just to get you through to lunch, it may be difficult to identify why your body craves it.
Craving sugary foods may be a sign of a few things, like gut imbalance, not eating enough fat, stress, poor sleep, and more. It may also be a sign that you are deficient in the following nutrients: tryptophan (helps boost serotonin production), sulfur (helps eliminate toxins), phosphorus (helps stimulate energy production), carbon (one of the elements from which sugar is made), and chromium (helps regulate blood sugar levels).
But, the best way to stop sugary food cravings is to decrease your intake of refined sugar, eat more vegetables (and some fruits for the natural sugars they possess), and protein-rich foods to give your body a slower, longer energy release.
– Salt: Sodium deficiency
You may crave salty foods as a symptom of Premenstrual syndrome, pregnancy, Bartter syndrome, stress, Addison’s disease, electrolyte imbalance, dehydration, or a sodium deficiency. That’s why you shouldn’t overlook a sudden salt craving. But, rather than reaching for salty foods, drink plenty of water and go for lightly salted popcorn, anchovies, olives, or other foods high in sodium. Cooking with Himalayan or unrefined sea salt may also help.
– Cheese: Calcium deficiency
You may experience intense cheese cravings, as you do not have enough fat in your diet. Your cheese cravings may also be triggered by a calcium deficiency. But eating too much cheese is unhealthy, so replace it with nuts and seeds, meat, fish, eggs, beans, lentils, and avocado.
– Refined carbs: Nitrogen deficiency
Craving refined carbohydrates such as bread and pasta may be a sign of nitrogen deficiency. Your body needs nitrogen to make protein in your DNA, nails, hair, blood, skin and muscles. So, if you crave refined carbs, increase your intake of nitrogen-rich foods like fish, seafood, meat and poultry, asparagus, green peas, spinach, cauliflower, and legumes.