Getting the occasional craving for something is no cause for concern. I mean, who doesn’t like reaching for a delicious piece of chocolate as a little treat? If, however, you’re getting daily food cravings that you just can’t beat, it’s time to look a little deeper. A well-balanced diet with adequate hydration should mean that we’re getting all the nutrients we need. So, why the food cravings then? Some of the most frequent include:
This is a common one and might be telling you that you’re low in magnesium. Given this is the most prevalent nutrient deficiency it’s quite likely. Chocolate is made from cacao, which is a rich source of magnesium so indulging in some will be giving you a nice little boost. Oftentimes when a well-absorbed magnesium supplement is introduced, this craving completely vanishes.
Another biggie that I see every single week in clinic! Carb craving can make it feel like you can never get enough bread, pasta, rice etc. What it can be telling you though, is that your protein and fat intake might be a little light on and your blood sugar is being affected as a result. Carb craving with mood imbalances might also suggest that you’re low in serotonin (one of our happy hormones) due to chronic stress, diet, lack of sunlight or medications. If this last one is you, it’s time to address those things along with checking in on inflammation and gut health.
If you’re forever adding a tonne of salt to your meals or seeking out salty snacks like chips – we want to take a look at your zinc stores. When our zinc stores are low, our taste buds can become significantly affected. When that happens we look to seasonings like salt to help enhance the flavour of our meals. Another factor to consider here is adrenal health. People with adrenal fatigue are often low in aldosterone. This steroid hormone is vitally important in the maintenance of electrolyte management. Low levels can cause cravings for things like salt due to electrolyte imbalances. If you’re always dizzy on standing, this is one for you to consider.
4. Sugary foods
If you crave sweet things all the time, particularly straight after a meal, this is likely telling of a blood sugar imbalance along with a possible chromium deficiency. Chromium helps to regulate blood glucose so making sure you get plenty of it in your diet can help to beat the cravings. This nutrient is found in broccoli, potatoes, green beans, turkey, liver and nuts to name but a few. Chromium is only part of the picture though. Blood sugar imbalance means you want to be giving your diet an overhaul, as it’s likely a little heavy on packaged, processed and high sugar foods in general.
Often when we crave alcohol it can be the result of imbalances in several neurotransmitters, particularly GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). GABA helps to bring feelings of calm and when deficient – we feel exactly the opposite becoming anxious, fearful and stressed. Studies have shown we can crave alcohol when in this state because it mimics the calming effects of GABA. Not the case the following day though! And anxiety is usually worse. Supplementation may be necessary to aid a GABA deficiency however, increasing your intake of fermented foods can also assist, as both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria strains have been reported to be able to synthesise GABA.
If you’re trying to get on top of your food cravings and are concerned about nutrient deficiencies contributing, book in for a consultation so we can discuss a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.