What Do Food Cravings Really Mean?
There are many factors that create a healthy or unhealthy person. Most people don’t associate the little red flags they are experiencing as possible indicators that their health may need some attention. For example, when you climb a set of stairs at a normal pace and you are extremely winded, that should give you a clear indication, that you may not be exercising enough.
If you think you know your body very well, and then out of the blue you have this craving for a food, what does that mean? There are several schools of thought whether a craving can mean that you are nutritionally deficient in something or it just means you may have a sweet or salty tooth.
After reviewing the literature, we believe it can be both! Now, how is that for a scientific response?
We are going to show you how to evaluate your cravings so you can determine if in fact it is worth taking seriously, or if there are other valid reasons for craving that certain food.
6 Reasons Why You Are Craving a Certain Food
Your personal life.
Have you been under a great deal of stress lately?
Are you a bit estranged from a loved one? Things aren’t as harmonious as you would like?
Have you been faithful with your time with God?
Any of these “deficiencies” will cause someone to turn toward food to comfort them instead of facing their issues head on, or turning to a healthier stress reliever.
Chances are extremely high, that if a person isn’t keeping the rest of their body in harmony, they cannot keep their cravings in check either.
It’s that time of year.
The body often craves foods in accordance with the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods, and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions, and nuts. During winter, many crave heat-producing foods like beans, oil, and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like sweet potato pie, eggnog, or Christmas cookies.
We love pumpkin and around the Fall season we make sure that we create pumpkin smoothies and healthy versions of other pumpkin treats. We love fresh apples after the first frost and that is the only time of year they have the best flavor.
In the summer you will find us making fruit ice creams and sorbets. We find organic blueberries and pick them to freeze so we have them all winter long. Peaches are awesome in July. Tomatoes become part of every meal by the late summer since that is the time when they have the best flavor.
In the winter, I love to make roasted veggies, nut loafs and stir fry. We also tend to eat more citrus, pears and heavier squash like spaghetti squash, butternut squash and acorn squash.
It’s about balance.
The reason we are not totally raw is that it interferes with our balance. After all that you have read, you know that life will never be stress free; there will always be bumps in the road in the relationships with loved ones; you will never be able to eat and drink the right amounts at the right time. Therefore, if you think about it, the reason that many people cannot survive on a totally raw, vegan diet is because their life cannot stay in balance all of the time. Wouldn’t it be wiser to consume a little cooked, comfort food than to sway far beyond a healthy cooked meal into areas that can place your health at far greater risk?
It’s Lack of water.
Lack of water can send the message that you’re thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.
When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. As a post menopausal woman, I wish I could always use that excuse, since I have naturally less of all of the hormones. But that is the way God designed our bodies so we can no longer complain about PMS!
It’s lack of nutrients.
If the body has inadequate nutrients, it’ll produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels trigger salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition leads to cravings for temporary sources of energy, like caffeine.
Naturopathic physician Tori Hudson, ND, describes the condition as a mild malnutrition, certainly not with severe outward consequences as something like scurvy or rickets. However, many people in our country who eat the Standard American Diet actually do suffer from a milder malnutrition from eating only depleted, processed food and not enough whole, nutrient rich foods.
As a result, people end up craving the vitamins, minerals trace minerals, and other vital nutrients they are lacking. But while your body may identify that you are missing a particular nutrient, for example potassium, your conscious mind cannot grasp the flavor of potassium so instead your mind remembers a particular food type such as bananas which are high in potassium.
The Food Craving Chart
When Your Body Craves Certain Foods, It Actually Is Looking For Nutrients
|If you crave this…||What you really need is…||And here are healthy foods that have it:|
|Chocolate||Magnesium||Raw nuts and seeds, legumes, fruits|
|Sweets||Chromium||Broccoli, grapes, dried beans,|
|Phosphorus||Nuts, legumes, grains|
|Sulfur||Cranberries, horseradish, cruciferous vegetables, kale, cabbage|
|Tryptophan||Raisins, sweet potato, spinach|
|Bread, toast||Nitrogen||High protein foods: Nuts, beans|
|Oily snacks, fatty foods||Calcium||Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, sesame|
|Coffee or tea||Phosphorous||Nuts, legumes|
|Sulfur||Red peppers, garlic, onion, cruciferous vegetables|
|NaCl (salt)||Sea salt, apple cider vinegar (on salad)|
|Iron||Seaweed, greens, black cherries|
|Alcohol, recreational drugs||Protein||Leafy greens, nuts|
|Calcium||Mustard and turnip greens, broccoli, kale, legumes, sesame|
|Glutamine||Supplement glutamine powder for withdrawal, raw cabbage juice|
|Potassium||Sun-dried black olives, potato peel broth, seaweed, bitter greens|
|Chewing ice||Iron||Seaweed, greens, black cherries|
|Burned food||Carbon||Fresh fruits|
|Soda and other carbonated drinks||Calcium||Mustard and turnip greens,broccoli, kale, legumes, sesame|
|Salty foods||Chloride||Raw goat milk, fish, unrefined sea salt|
|Acid foods||Magnesium||Raw nuts and seeds, legumes,fruits|
|Preference for liquids rather than solids||Water||Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.|
|Preference for solids rather than liquids||Water||You have been so dehydrated for so long that you have lost your thirst. Flavor water with lemon or lime. You need 8 to 10 glasses per day.|
|Cool drinks||Manganese||Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries|
|Pre-menstrual cravings||Zinc||Leafy vegetables, root vegetables|
|General overeating||Silicon||Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches|
|Tryptophan||Nuts, raisins, sweet potato, spinach|
|Tyrosine||Vitamin C supplements or orange, green, red fruits and vegetables|
|Lack of appetite||Vitamin B1||Nuts, seeds, beans|
|Vitamin B3||Seeds and legumes|
|Manganese||Walnuts, almonds, pecans, pineapple, blueberries|
|Chloride||Unrefined sea salt|
|Tobacco||Silicon||Nuts, seeds; avoid refined starches|
|Tyrosine||Vitamin C supplements or orange, green and red fruits and vegetables|
If a glass of water just doesn’t cut the craving, then go take a walk. If your life is just one stressor after another, you will need to set boundaries and carve out time during each day to do something just for you. Whether you take a class, join a gym, or become part of a Bible study, this must be something that feeds your soul.
So, the next time you have a craving for an unhealthy food, take a look at the 6 reasons above. It might just be healthier for you to reconcile with your spouse than to pick up that unhealthy food. Besides, the rewards of maintaining strong relationships far outweigh that brief moment on the lips.