Why you’re having strange cravings

Have strange cravings for salt or cheese? This could be why

Ever had a hankering to eat something but it felt more like a need than just wishing for it?  It could be your body telling you that you’re lacking in some essential nutrients. And each craving could be a sign of a deficiency, even if it’s something completely random like cheese. Read on to learn more about your food cravings and how you can curb them by getting the right balance of nutrients.

What does it mean to have food cravings?

Food cravings are sometimes hard to ignore and can be caused by both physical and mental factors. They can be described as an intense desire for a specific food. At times, this desire can feel uncontrollable. Although everyone experiences a craving from time to time, like feeling for your favourite chocolate or a bag of crisps when it’s intense you may have to look at your diet and see if there’s an imbalance that’s causing these cravings.

Food craving chart

If you feel like you’ve been having an uncontrollable desire for these foods, you could be lacking in some nutrients. Let’s take a look at the food chart to see which craving corresponds to which deficiency:

  • Salty food

If you’ve found yourself reaching for the salt shaker at mealtime you could be experiencing a hormonal imbalance. sually,consuming too much salt can be a problem but there’s still much to be said about having too little because it can affect your overall health. Craving salty food could signal that your body is in need of hormone regulation. And some of the hormones that are affected are cortisol, leptin and serotonin.

Cortisol is released when the body goes under stress and an increase in this hormone can result in a salt craving. If you’ve been stressing out lately, try not to seek out salty foods but do some exercise or other de-stressing therapy instead. A lack of sleep can also cause stress and an increase in cortisol levels so you may just need to take a nap and catch up on some Zs.

And a lack of sleep can affect your leptin levels too. This is the hormone that tells you to stop eating when you’re full. When you have less leptin, it could lead to wanting more salt.

Junk foods usually contain high levels of salt and when your body is in need of a serotonin boost, you could find yourself scratching around the pantry trying to resolve an itch for salt with a bag of crisps. Serotonin is what makes us feel good so when you’re feeling a little down, do something that makes you happy like dancing or painting instead to get you in a better mood. 

  • Chocolate

We’re all guilty of sneaking in a little more chocolate than we should, but when it’s more than just that and you can’t get chocolate off your mind, you could be lacking in magnesium. This is one of the most essential minerals that your body needs in order to function optimally. It’s even thought to play a role in helping fight cancer.

You might be wondering what chocolate has to do with magnesium and in fact, it has a lot. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, is very rich in magnesium. Research shows that it has 252.2 mg of magnesium per 100 g of cocoa.

So when you get a craving next time, opt for dark chocolate or green leafy vegetables, like spinach, seeds, nuts and beans to increase your magnesium levels.

  • Coffee

Your morning cuppa might be a necessity but if you start pouring more coffee than your usual, your body could be telling you that it needs more iron. This mineral is another important one because it helps maintain healthy blood. It carries oxygen in the red blood cells to deliver it throughout the body. And although for some people, coffee is just as vital as oxygen, you should increase your iron intake through food. Try eating more green, leafy vegetables, red meats and legumes.

Another reason why you might be craving coffee is a need for a dopamine hit. This is the hormone that plays a role in pleasure, motivation and learning so it’s understandable that when you’re feeling low you crave dopamine and coffee helps increase it.

  • Cheese

Growing up you probably often heard that you needed to drink milk so that your bones can grow healthy and strong because milk is rich in calcium. But as you got older, you may have forgotten about your calcium intake. A craving for cheese could be your reminder. Dairy products like cheese contain calcium so wishing for a chunk of cheese could be your body’s way of telling you to increase your calcium intake.

You may also not be eating enough fats from your other dietary sources. Fats help the body absorb vitamins and minerals and they give your body energy to carry out its different functions throughout the day. When you lack enough healthy fats, you can have a weakened immune system, feel irritable and low on energy. Cheese has a high-fat content which is why your body could be indicating that you need more of it.

Your cravings, satisfied

So now you know the next time you have a hankering for these foods, it might not just be a basic craving. Your body could be signalling something more is going on. Pay attention to how you’re feeling and what you’re wishing for so you can get to the bottom of your cravings and nourish your body with what it needs for overall healthy wellbeing. Be well, be happy. And be satisfied.

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