Who doesn’t have food cravings? Whether it’s hormonal cycles, pregnancy, or emotionally induced, your brain knows what your body needs! However, in this technology age, you’re more than likely disconnected from your body. You might often think you know better than what your body is trying to tell you… but is that really the case?
Any craving is a good starting point, because we have several biological mechanisms for correcting specific nutritional deficiencies. When something is interfering with your ability to use sugar, you crave it because if you don’t eat it you will waste protein to make it.” -Dr. Ray Peat, PhD
What are your food cravings trying to tell you?
- Fat cravings: Do you have enough healthy saturated fat in your diet (ie. lard, butter, coconut oil, avocado, olive oil, cream, etc.)? This is especially important if you have ever been on a low-fat diet. Healthy fats are your friend– and they don’t make you fat! You may have noticed that cravings for things like avocado, butter, and cream are common, but cravings for unhealthy oils like soy or canola are not common. Take a hint from your cravings and choose healthy fats that your body actually craves.
- Salt cravings: Your body wants chloride. Your best bet here is to make sure you get some unrefined salt in your diet. Cravings for salt are also often a clue of chronic stress. Under the stress response, you lose more sodium, and naturally want to consume more to compensate for the loss. Listen to your body and salt your food as your taste buds see fit.
- Sugar cravings: Sugar (glucose) is the body’s primary source of energy and is needed to fuel cellular energy production. When your intake is not sufficient (often due to dieting, low carb diets, and starvation), your body starts the inflammatory process of breaking down fat and proteins to MAKE glucose. Fruits, roots, and below ground veggies are the best choices, along with honey, maple syrup, and small amounts of sucrose (table sugar).
- Chocolate cravings: Cravings for chocolate can be due to the need for magnesium or copper, but it’s more commonly for magnesium. If you want to be sure about your magnesium and copper levels, hair analysis is the tool I use myself and with my clients. Magnesium is lost rapidly under the stress response, so it’s very common to have cravings for magnesium-rich foods. Try darker chocolates and seek out other sources of magnesium such as fresh fruits or transdermal sources. Magnesium spray and magnesium lotion are my personal favorites to aid in reversing magnesium deficiency. You can also find great magnesium-rich chocolate recipes here and here.
- Lemon/lime/vinegary food cravings: If you commonly crave acidic foods, you could be low in stomach acid. Strong stomach acid is your body’s first line of defense and serves the purpose of sterilizing your food, disinfecting the stomach, and breaking down your foods (particularly proteins). When your stomach acid isn’t adequate, it starts a cascade of digestive dysfunction leading to digestive discomfort, food allergies, nutritional deficiencies, constipation, and more!
- Red meat cravings: You could be low in iron, zinc, or amino acids (building blocks of proteins). Also, if you regularly consume red meat regularly, and still have cravings, you might not be digesting it correctly. Poor digestion is a common symptom of a slowed metabolism; often a result of dieting and ignoring your body’s needs. Additionally, if you find yourself having what I call a reverse craving, or a strong food aversion to red meat, it may be a good idea to get your iron levels checked to rule out iron overload as the cause of your food aversion.
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What are your food cravings trying to tell you? Please share in the comments!