The Link between Food Cravings and Nutrient Deficiencies
By Armin Ghojehvand| Founder of Vitamin Buddy and Nutritional Therapist
Did you know that the foods you crave are often an indication of nutritional deficiencies?
Struggling with sugar cravings? Do you constantly feel the need to eat crisps or cookies? According to health experts, food cravings in some cases may be indicators of nutritional deficiencies. This explains why you crave fatty foods and sugary treats while on a diet. As an example, chocolate cravings are often a sign of magnesium deficiency. I, personally, am an unapologetic chocoholic, so have started to supplement with magnesium which has actually helped reduce my Kinder Bueno intake. Supplementing with magnesium also massively helps with your muscle recovery if you’re exercising regularly. But that’s an aside, somewhat.
What Do Food Cravings Mean?
The body is a complex creature. Your body has its own way of telling you that something is missing in your diet. Thirst is the first sign of dehydration. Tiredness and fatigue show that you might not be getting enough sleep, or vitamin B12. Food cravings are linked to nutrient deficiencies. If you’re constantly craving sweets, get more magnesium, chromium, and tryptophan in your diet. These nutrients are found in whole, natural foods, such as broccoli, dried beans, liver, eggs, poultry, legumes, and grains, or you can get them via supplementation.
Craving bread may indicate nitrogen deficiency, so make sure you eat more fish, meat, and beans. Those who are craving fatty foods might not be eating enough calcium. This mineral is found in veggies, dairy, and greens. If you’re feeling the urge to chew ice (yes, this is a thing!), your diet may lack iron. To fight these cravings, eat leafy greens, fish, chicken, and black cherries. Red meat cravings are similarly often caused by an iron deficiency, whilst salty food cravings are often a sign of chloride deficiency.
Your body is a sophisticated computer (as well as a complex creature), and these cravings are error messages that need to be actioned to revert back to full working order. Listen to it. You know the more you ignore the warning signs and beeps that come from your computer, the closer it is to shutting down.
How to Fight Cravings and Stick to Your Diet
The best way to fight unhealthy food cravings is to eat a well-balanced diet. I’m actually not a fan of the term “diet”, because it invokes feelings of restriction, and they are often too extreme to be sustainable in any way. It’s all about picking up eating habits that you can maintain in the long run. Make the switch to skimmed milk. Have an Americano instead of a Cappuccino. Have dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Try sweet potatoes instead of white, and brown grains instead of white pasta and rice. Avoid any weight loss plan that eliminates whole food cravings. Crash diets make cravings much, much worse. Who hasn’t gone completely cold turkey on carbs or sweets, and at the first sign of some kind of life hiccup gone full-on bingeing on the foods you’re trying to avoid? Your daily meals should include nutrient-dense foods, such as lean meat, poultry, fatty fish, and vegetables. Obviously you can always reserve a little bit of space for your naughty cravings, just enough to sate you, never enough to bring on the guilt.
If your goal is to slim down, cut back on carbs or reduce your calorie intake. However, make sure you’re meeting your daily nutritional requirements. In an ideal world this is through eating the perfect optimal and balanced diet, as close to natural source and organic as possible. Supplementing with vitamin and mineral capsules also is a huge help, as certain lifestyle factors naturally lend themselves to depleting your body of specific nutrients (if you’d like to find out more what your body needs take the Vitamin Buddy Quiz today). Also, don’t forget to exercise regularly, or just be more active. For tips on firing up your metabolism, check out last week’s blog.