Herbs and Helpers ®

Herbal Services and Solutions | Herbalist | Supplier | Herbs

   Jan 29

What do your food cravings say about you? From chocolate to sweets, meat to stodgy carbs, they can provide crucial clues about your health

Cravings are the body’s way of telling us it is missing out on something

While you might crave something sweet, your body is really lacking the mineral chromium which can be found in beef, kidney, carrots and broccoli

An undeniable urge for a bar of chocolate is your body’s way of saying it needs more magnesium – also found in tuna, mackerel and wild salmon

Many of us are consumed by intense cravings, whether it’s for a sweet treat or savoury snack.

Experts say that cravings are the body’s way of telling us that something is missing.

By sending the messages to the brain, our bodies can maintain the balance of minerals, vitamins as well as energy levels.

But what do our desires for certain foods mean?

Cravings are often the body’s way of telling us we are lacking certain nutrients in our diet, rather than simply wanting sugar, a nutritionist has said

Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson, from the NutriCentre, London, told MailOnline: ‘Cravings mainly indicate that our body is lacking a specific mineral or nutrient.

‘As descendants from cave men – when the aim was to survive a day on one meal – we are craving food that is either high in fat or high in calories to provide us enough energy.

‘However, these days, we eat five times a day and we no longer need that additional energy or extra calories.

‘Unfortunately, due to the fact, most food is processed, we are still missing necessary nutrients in our bodies.

‘Instead of giving into our cravings, it is important to understand them, and give the body exactly what it needs.’

Here, Ms Wilkinson helps decode common cravings to reveal what your body may be asking for…

YOU CRAVE: Something sweet

YOU NEED: Chromium

As a person eats, their blood sugar levels surge and insulin is released.

‘If you’re eating refined sugar and carbohydrates they will hit your bloodstream fast and cause an imbalance in blood sugar,’ Ms Wilkinson told MailOnline.

‘Your body will release more insulin to deal with this rapid rise in blood sugar.

Whether it’s sweet or savoury, cravings are the body’s way of telling us that something is missing. For those who long for sweet, sugary foods, it could be a sign the body is lacking the mineral chromium

‘Once dealt with, the blood sugar levels will drop, but because you’ve generated the release of so much insulin, the levels will drop too low and you will soon feel like snacking on a bar of chocolate, or something else sweet.

‘The more sweets you eat, the more you will crave them – it is a catch 22.’

To help curb sugar cravings, Ms Wilkinson advises taking chromium, a mineral that helps balance insulin levels and keeps afternoon sugar pangs at bay.

‘Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, which contains protein as well as carbohydrates, scrambled eggs with rye bread for example, she added.

‘And continue later during the day with vegetables, this helps to maintain a steady flow of blood sugar.

‘This means that by the time you get to 4pm, your blood sugar should not have dropped so much that you need that quick sweet fix.’

Other good sources of chromium include liver, kidney, beef, chicken, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, wholegrains and eggs.

You can also try a supplement called Chromium Picolinate by Nature’s Plus.

YOU CRAVE: Chocolate

YOU NEED: Magnesium

An undeniable urge to gorge on your favourite chocolate bar could be your body telling you it needs magnesium

Ms Wilkinson said the desperate pang for chocolate is, in fact, a sign the body is craving magnesium.

And with around 80 per cent of people lacking magnesium in their daily diet, it is unsurprising so many are heard to utter the words, ‘I’m craving chocolate’.

‘Magnesium not only can support the immune system by preventing inflammation but it also plays a crucial role in balancing the nervous system and easing anxiety,’ Ms Wilkinson said.

‘It is also important for good bone health. The best way to deal with this craving is to reach for a square of dark chocolate, which is around 70 per cent cocoa.’

Foods that are rich in magnesium include dark leafy greens, raw or cooked baby spinach, kale or Swiss chard for example.

Nuts and seeds, including almonds, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, flaxseed and pecans are also a good source, and make a good afternoon snack.

Incorporating wild salmon, tuna and mackerel into your diet is another good way of adding more magnesium to your daily menu at least once a week.

Snacking on half a cup of dry roasted soybeans provides nearly half the necessary magnesium for the day.

And avocado is loaded with multivitamins, including around 15 per cent of the recommended daily amount of magnesium.

But if you’re after a slightly sweeter alternative, low fat yoghurt and bananas can help boost levels of the nutrient.

Another good source of magnesium is the supplement Synergistic Magnesium, available from Quest Excellence.

YOU CRAVE: Stodgy carbohydrates

YOU NEED: Tryptophan

For those of us who long for bread, pasta, potatoes – basically any carbs we can get out hands on – this could be a sign the body is lacking an essential amino acid, trytophan.

The body uses it to synthesise the chemical serotonin, which regulates moods.

Bread, potatoes, pasta… any carbs you can get your hands on – a common craving but a sign you actually need more of an amino acid called tryptophan

Bread, potatoes, pasta… any carbs you can get your hands on – a common craving but a sign you actually need more of an amino acid called tryptophan

Though carbohydrates don’t contain tryptophan, scientists believe raising blood sugar levels helps drive more of the amino acid to the brain.

Ms Wilkinson, said: ‘Carb cravings are a sign of low levels of the amino acid, tryptophan, which is necessary for the production of serotonin.

‘It plays a crucial role in sleep and wake cycles as well as digestion.

‘A lack of serotonin can lead to low mood and anxiety.’

Instead of reaching for stodgy carbs, Ms Wilkinson said upping the amount of protein in your diet can help.

Turkey, eggs, bananas and walnuts are all rich in tryptophan.

Find out more on how you can develop healthy eating habits


YOU NEED: Iron, zinc

Craving meat could be a sign the body is in need of more iron.

A growing tendency towards cutting down on the level of red meat in our diets has resulted in more people suffering iron deficiencies, said Ms Wilkinson.

‘Iron plays a vital role in supporting the immune system, as it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body.

‘Without it, we become fatigued and tired.’

Craving meat is a sign the body is lacking in the minerals iron and zinc, so try and eat it once a week

She advises trying to include red meat at least once a week in your diet.

While craving meat is a sign of iron deficiency, it can also indicate the body is lacking in zinc.

Zinc deficiency is becoming more common in the UK, as people tend to eat less red meat.

Zinc plays an important role in the immune system – so low levels will make a person more susceptible to suffering colds and flu.

Zinc is also vital for strong hair and nails and healthy skin.

Red meat is the best source, but shellfish, lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cheese and wholemeal bread are all good sources of zinc.

Alternatively, you can replenish iron deficiency by taking iron supplements.


YOU NEED: Sodium

Craving salty foods is a sign that sodium levels in the body are too low.

‘It is usually due to dehydration, after exercise, illness or drinking alcohol,’ said Ms Wilkinson.

Sodium is an important mineral that helps maintain water balance in the body and regulates blood pressure.

‘You can quickly replenish sodium by snacking on dried anchovies or salted popcorn, which are naturally high in sodium,’ Ms Wilkinson said.

‘You can also find small amounts of this mineral in celery and carrots, which should help your craving.’

Craving salty foods is a sign you might need to increase sodium levels. Nutritionist Shona Wilkinson said a good way to give the body more sodium is by snacking on celery and carrots

Source: Daily Mail

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.