Food cravings are strong enough to make you indulge in eating a little more than you should. Interestingly, such cravings are not only related to satisfying your taste buds and hunger but also say a lot about your health. For instance, your craving for certain foods can indicate that your body is actually in need of certain minerals or nutrients. Satisfying your cravings by eating the relevant foods can help replenish your body’s nutrient requirement as well as give your energy levels a great boost. Therefore, it is essential to satisfy your cravings for a healthier wellbeing. So next time when you have a food preference, indulge in some healthy delicious treat.
Why Do You Get Food Cravings?
There are several factors that propel the intense desire for a food. The part of your brain responsible for reward, pleasure, and memory also controls your food cravings. The memory area of your brain associates specific food with rewards. New research and brain tests suggest that the memory region plays a more crucial role in food craving than the reward center region. When your body detects any imbalance, it sends out messages in the form of cravings. Cravings can be caused due to various factors.
Here are some of the major reasons that are known to cause cravings:
Over 70 percent of the human body is comprised of water. Inadequate water content can leave you feeling thirsty and dehydrated causing hunger. Drinking a glass of water is the first thing you need to do during cravings.
Besides satisfying your hunger, food also provides you with emotional support. Stress and anxiety can lead to sugar and fat cravings. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response of your body functions as a natural protective agent against stress. When your body detects stressful situations, the brain signals your adrenal glands for secreting cortisol, an anti-stress hormone to combat stress. However, repeated stress puts more pressure on your adrenals for increased cortisol secretion. As a result, your adrenals get overburdened causing a decline in cortisol levels and reducing your body’s stress-fighting ability.
Carbohydrates help boost the level of the serotonin hormone which produces a calming effect. To explore the effect of stress on food cravings, researchers conducted a study on stressed-out rats which revealed that the stressed rats preferred eating sugar and fat. The research also showed that feeding on sugar and fat reduced secretion of stress-related hormones.
Hormonal imbalances can also lead to cravings. An imbalance in the level of leptin, serotonin, and endorphins can make you crave for food. Fluctuation in hormone levels is high during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause which can give rise to some unique cravings. People with adrenal fatigue have high cortisol levels and crave salty and fatty foods.
Your body requires a variety of micronutrients, macronutrients, and minerals for optimal functioning. Nutrients also play a significant role in nourishing your adrenals as well as accelerating your process of adrenal fatigue recovery. However, when your body does not get the required nutrients, it sends signals in the form of cravings. Craving for particular foods reveals the type of nutrients your body is lacking. For instance, insufficient mineral levels can cause salt cravings which can be satisfied naturally by including unprocessed sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, goat milk, tuna and salmon in your diet. Inadequate nutrition can also produce cravings for non-nutritional foods such as caffeine or sugar.
Individual food preferences can also largely depend on a person’s genes and upbringing. Studies suggest that genetics can affect a person’s intake levels of sugar and salt as well as preferences for food such as dark chocolate, blue cheese, artichokes, bacon, coffee, and broccoli.
Food Cravings: What Are They Actually Telling You?
Cravings can range from salty, sweet, and fatty to sour. They signal you that your body is in need of something. Food cravings can have an underlying cause and maybe symptom or signs of an imbalance. Certain cravings can also be your body’s response to nutrient depletion. In fact, each type of food craving indicates what nutrient your body is actually in need of. Therefore, being aware of your cravings and understanding its real meaning can prove helpful in finding out what your body actually needs. Thus satisfying your cravings is pertinent to meet your body’s nutrient requirement.
Cravings actually help you in identifying the nutrients that your body is lacking. Here is a list of some of the commonly experienced food cravings and the nutrient depletion they indicate:
Craving for Protein Foods
Inadequate protein can make your body crave for protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish, and meat. Proteins help in keeping you full and energetic throughout the day. Starting your day with a protein-rich diet can also help fight fatigue.
If you frequently experience fatigue along with one or a set of symptoms that include low energy levels, anxiety, brain fog, a decrease in concentration level, insomnia, difficulty in waking up, or salty and fatty food cravings, then chances are high that you might be suffering from Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). People usually have reactive hypoglycemia in advanced stages of adrenal fatigue during which a high-fat diet can help minimize tiredness and irritability but can often produce protein cravings. In such cases, a combination of a fat and protein-rich diet can help alleviate the symptoms.
Craving for Salty Foods
This indicates that your body requires chloride which is essential for healthy digestion and maintaining electrolyte levels. Raw goat milk and yogurt, Himalayan pink salt, sea salt and fish are great foods to satisfy your salt craving. A tuna fish sandwich along with goat’s yogurt make a great meal. You can also make salmon and crumbled goat cheese salad drizzled with olive oil, mixed herbs and sea salt. Make sure to avoid extremely salty junk foods such as potato chips.
Craving for Fatty Foods
If you crave for fatty foods such as pizza, French fries and soda then your body is in need of calcium. A healthier alternative to satisfy such cravings includes unprocessed cheese, avocado, mustard, sesame, kale, turnip greens, broccoli, legumes, olive oil, coconut oil and organic butter. Toasted sesame, almond and flax seeds sprinkled with sea salt and fresh ground pepper make a tasty and healthy snack to satisfy your salty and fatty food cravings.
Craving for Sweets
If you are craving for sweets then your body needs phosphorus, chromium, sulfur, tryptophan, and carbon. To get phosphorous, consider eating nuts, grains, legumes, chicken, eggs, and fish. Beans, broccoli, unprocessed cheese, chicken, and grapes are sources of chromium. Cruciferous vegetables, cabbage, kale, horseradish, and cranberries are great sources of sulfur whereas unprocessed cheese, spinach, sweet potatoes, and raisins are rich in tryptophan. For carbon intake, include a variety of fresh fruits in your diet. Sweet cravings can also indicate that you are tired and lacking sleep. In such cases, taking a nap or going for a short walk can help boost your energy levels. Read More Article Here