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Got a Craving? Here’s Why

Got a Craving? Here’s Why

Pay attention to your cravings. They are telling you something!

By Lucy Dauman

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Packed full of sugar, artificial sweeteners and very often harmful additives, it is safe to say that soda and candy meet all requirements when it comes to unhealthy food. Yet on average, we consume more than $10 billion worth of confectionary products each year and drink twice the amount of carbonated drinks as we do water.

Add to this our high consumption of salty and fatty foods and it’s easy to see why salt, sugar and fat have come under fire from health professionals in recent years. That’s not to say we shouldn’t enjoy the odd can of cola or an occasional chocolate bar, but with obesity at an all time high in the U.S., it’s time to look at alternative ways to satisfy our cravings.

But what do our cravings really mean? Often what we think we want to eat, whether it’s a candy bar or French fries, is actually our body telling us that we are low in certain nutrients. These can be replenished in far healthier ways than reaching for the cookie jar.

If you’ve ever found yourself thinking one or more of the following, read on.

“I want a soda”
What it probably means: “I need more calcium.”

While they may seem unlikely alternatives to a Pepsi, mustard, broccoli, kale and sesame contain high levels of calcium. Or if that doesn’t sound very refreshing, pour yourself a glass of milk. Dairy products in general are excellent sources of calcium.

A craving for fatty snacks can also be an indicator that you need more calcium, so put down the doughnut and reach for the greens!

P.S. If you absolutely need to satisfy that sweet tooth, have a tall, cold glass of iced tea mixed with a little fruit juice. Plus, fruit juice mixed with seltzer provides that fizzy feeling.

“I want some candy”
What it probably means: “My body is lacking in chromium, carbon phosphorus, sulphur, Tryptophan.”

Again, broccoli and kale are rich sources of all of these things, along with cheese, fish or meat such as chicken, turkey or beef. Combine these with cabbage, sweet potato and spinach and you’re on to a winner! Or, if you’re after a snack rather than a full-cooked meal, try replacing candy bars with fresh fruit, dried cranberries or nuts.

P.S Chocolate cravings are a common side effect of PMS, but what your body really needs is zinc. You can find this in red meat, seafood, leafy and root vegetables. Marmite (a popular British food spread) is also a good source.

“Pass the salt!”
What it probably means: “I need chloride”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, we crave salt (or sodium chloride) when our body is lacking in chloride. Salty foods such as pretzels and potato chips contain far more salt than our body generally needs and are often full of harmful substances like saturated fat and even sugar. For those who like the taste, goat milk is a great alternative, as is fish. Just sprinkle the fish with a bit of coarse sea salt and your chloride levels will be back up in no time.

P.S. For those of us who crave salty foods when suffering from a hangover, what we actually need are some fresh electrolytes. Citrus fruits such as kiwis, oranges or grapefruit are rich in vitamins and will make you feel much better than a burger and fries!

And one more for luck…“I need coffee!”
What it probably means: “I need more phosphorous, sulfur and iron.”

Some of us can’t function until we’ve had that first cup of coffee, but too much caffeine can be harmful to our health. Beat those cravings by eating more chicken, beef, fish, eggs and dairy. Other good sources of the above include red peppers, garlic, onion, apple cider vinegar, seaweed and cherries (but probably not all together!).


Lucy Dauman is a writer and editor based in London.

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Tagged With: cravings, sugar, salt, chocolate, health

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