If you had to name your biggest food weakness what would it be? Chocolate? Chips? French fries?
Many of us have something that we turn to when we’re having a bad day but don’t really understand why we crave certain foods more than others. Well, nutritional research suggests that food cravings are actually the result of dietary deficiencies when our bodies aren’t getting enough essential vitamins and minerals.
One of the most comprehensive guides to calcium function in the body is titled, Calcium in Human Health by Connie M. Weaver and Robert P. Heaney. Here you’ll read about the dangers of a calcium deficiency, which can actually make you crave salty foods.
Healthy Salt Alternatives
- Olives and olive oil
Sugar & Starch Cravings
If you’re craving sugary and starchy foods, such as cereal or bread, you might just be deficient in glucose, sodium, chromium, or serotonin. Lawrence Wilson, MD has linked bread and carbohydrate addiction to boosts in serotonin and dopamine and energy when chronically fatigued.
Also, according to registered nutritionist Anita Ellis, these cravings may mean that you need more zinc in your diet. “Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for appetite control,” she wrote. “It’s linked to production of leptin, the hunger hormone which tells your body that it’s full, so if you’re deficient in the mineral, it could explain why you’re craving cake.”
Healthy Sugar & Starch Alternatives
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Roasted Brussels sprouts
Creamy & Sweet Cravings
Another common craving is for sweet and creamy foods, mostly delicious desserts that are decadent and tempting. Dr. Laura Thompson at the Southern California Institute of Clinical Nutrition has made many connections between cravings and deficiencies and this one could mean a variety of things. Scientific tests show that creamy and sweet cravings could mean a deficiency in anything from chromium to magnesium, carbon, phosphorous, sulfur, protein/amino acids, or serotonin/dopamine.
Healthy Creamy & Sweet Alternatives
- Berry and yogurt parfait
- Lemon sorbet
- Apple with peanut butter
Whether you simply can’t wake up without your morning cup of coffee or make a habit of sipping energy drinks throughout the day, caffeine cravings could mean more than just pure addiction. Your body might be deficient in iron or serotonin if you are constantly craving caffeine.
Shona Wilkinson, head nutritionist at the NutriCentre, says, “If you’re a five cups a day woman, then your latte addiction is going to play a part. But if you’re suddenly desperate for a quick hit of espresso, it could actually be an iron deficiency.”
Healthy Caffeine Alternatives
- Low or no-caffeine tea
- Coconut water
- Hot apple cider
One of the biggest cravings that men and women have is chocolate; however, chocolate in moderation can actually be beneficial to your health. Persistent chocolate cravings could mean that you have a magnesium, vitamin B, serotonin, or antioxidant deficiency, but it also has qualities that appeal to people with addictive personalities. Nature Works Best Cancer Clinic, for example, has linked chocolate cravings to low magnesium levels, which can lead to migraines.
Healthy Chocolate & Chocolate Alternatives
- Dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao
- Almond butter
- Raw nuts and seeds