The body has this amazing innate ability to make you crave certain foods when it’s in demand for specific nutrients. However, we’re often drawn to unhealthy processed foods to get that quick hit of energy, which is actually not what we need.
What happens if I crave carb-rich and sugary foods?
Craving carbs (sugar, grains, flour, etc.) is notoriously linked to deficiencies in B vitamins, chromium, iodine and manganese. B vitamins are necessary for energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis. Chromium plays an important role in blood sugar regulation while manganese is an essential co-factor for many enzymes. Iodine, on the other hand, is needed for cellular metabolism, growth and development. When it comes to sugar, it’s also important to identify where these hankerings are coming from. Are they addictive cravings, imbalances within our gut, or simply nutritional deficiencies?
Are you craving caffeinated foods and beverages?
Believe it or not, this particular craving may be a demand for more Vitamin C in the diet. Vitamin C is needed for bone, blood vessels and cardiovascular maintenance. It stimulates white blood cell production and is vital for your immune system to function properly. As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects cells from oxidative damage. Vitamin C also helps in collagen production, which is important for repairing skin and keeping that youthful glow.
What about craving protein-rich foods?
Protein cravings are commonly seen in children, teenagers and athletes due to the rapid growth and repair of muscle and tissue fibres. Craving for protein-rich foods typically points to a deficiency in Vitamin A, which is important for immunity and growth as well as blood cell production.
Are you craving fatty foods?
This is NOT because you need deep-fried fast foods. Rather, it actually indicates that your body is demanding more healthy fats in your diet like essential fatty acids (EFAs) and Vitamin E. These nutrients are important for brain development, hormonal metabolism, and nervous system tissue health as well as the overall optimal structure of cell membranes. It also makes sense that these cravings kick in during puberty as the menstrual cycle needs good-quality fats for optimal health.
Can’t get enough of dairy products?
This screams calcium! Calcium is vital for the development and maintenance of bone structure; it’s also needed for muscle stimulation and the release of neurotransmitters. Calcium also helps with hormone function and the metabolism of vitamin D, which is extremely important in the metabolising of oestrogens.
Are you always reaching for fizzy drinks?
Phosphorus is needed for activation of many of our B-vitamins. The growth spurts during our teenage years usually increase the demand for phosphorus – the body needs to manufacture more protein for the growth, maintenance, and repair of cells and tissues. Phosphorus also plays an important role in how the body utilises carbohydrates and fats.
You may need a little more magnesium in your diet! Just by using a good magnesium supplement and increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods at this time may curb your cravings all together! Chocolate has the ability to promote neurotransmitter activity and dopamine production. Chocolate also increases serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for better mood and sleep, as well as the reduction of anxiety. So it’s also important to identify if this is a nutritional deficiency, a sugar craving or an emotional urge to boost your mood.
Do you ever get a weird craving to just suck on ice cubes?
No worries – you may just need a little more iron in your diet! You may also be craving more animal products around this time. But remember you can get iron from many vegetarian sources, so go for the healthier options.
Have salty foods been your go-to lately?
Sodium is needed for transmission of nerve impulses, fluid balance, pH balance and production of digestive juices. This can also mean you need to replenish your electrolytes after strenuous physical activity.
Find out more!
Cravings are our body speaking to us. Whether it be an emotional craving, a nutritional craving, or an addictive craving, these messages are signals that something is out of balance.
What do your cravings say about your health?
To learn more, join any of our private online communities where you can find support in your personal health journey. Share your experience with others and our team of health experts and naturopaths will be on hand to assist you with your concerns.