Cravings can mean different things for different people, especially when emotions factor into the relationship with certain foods. Maybe that sweet tooth seemingly only rears its head during times of sadness or uncertainty. The painful emotion could be triggering a desire to feel better with food, yes, or the craving could actually stem from a deeper biological level.
If the craving is sudden and short-lived, it’s most likely tied to an emotion. But if your diet lacks certain micronutrients, then your body could be crying out for help in the form of sustained cravings. Obviously, a craving presents itself generally as hunger; and the hungrier you get throughout the day, the more intense the craving becomes for whatever the body needs most.
One of the keys to optimizing health, and therefore finding the perfect body weight for your healthy body, is learning how to decipher hunger cravings (not emotional cravings) and understand their biological feedback. If you’re experiencing sustained or regular cravings for a certain type or flavor of food, you likely need a boost of a certain micronutrient — not the food, itself.
Here’s the best part: lots of healthy foods contain the same (if not better) versions of the micronutrients you’re craving as the sweet/salty/oily version you think your body wants. In truth, the body never craves junk food; either the mind is conditioned to want it for its addictiveness, or the body is actually crying out for better nutrition in the form of a craving that’s being misinterpreted.
What do some common food cravings actually mean?
If you’re craving chocolate, you’re possibly deficient in magnesium and could satisfy that craving with nuts or fruit, instead.
But if you’re craving sugar, you’re possibly deficient in phosphorus and could satisfy that craving with chicken, beef, fatty fish, or eggs, instead.
If you’re craving starchy carbs like bread or pasta, you’re possibly deficient in nitrogen and could satisfy that craving with high protein foods like meats, beans, or chia seeds, instead.
If you’re craving oily foods, you’re possibly deficient in calcium and could satisfy that craving with milk, cheese or leafy green veggies, instead.
And if you’re craving salty foods, you’re possibly deficient in chloride or silicon, and could satisfy that craving with goat milk, fatty fish, or cashews, instead.
The easiest way to know whether or not the craving was due to a nutritional deficiency is simple: did the craving go away after satisfying it? The theory also works in terms of MACROnutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates. If your body is craving fat, you likely crave more volume of food in general; if you’re craving protein, you likely need it more muscle repair; and if you’re craving carbs (and who doesn’t?), you likely need more energy for your brain.
No matter the craving, it’s important to listen to your body and satisfy the craving with proper fuel sources that will balance the nutrient profile and hopefully eliminate the cravings. When cravings (for junk food, especially) subside, weight loss becomes nearly effortless — suddenly you can eat more food than ever before and still lose the excess pounds.
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