Health: Food Cravings
Are cravings responsible for half of the Scottish population being overweight? We reveal why your body craves certain foods and how you can avoid them
It’s no secret that cravings can be particularly strong during pregnancy. However, even if you’re not expecting, it’s still completely normal to experience a longing for specific foods or food groups. It’s important to acknowledge that cravings can be linked to a number of different psychological reasons, but they can also be an indication that your body is low in a specific vitamin or nutrient. Having said this, overeating is an issue in Scotland, so here's everything you need to know about cravings and how not to give in...
Sadly, craving this type of sweet treat is not an indication that your body has a chocolate deficiency. In fact, it may mean that your body is lacking in a mineral that is vital for healthy skin and hair, magnesium. Chocolate is high in magnesium and could therefore indicate that your levels of the mineral are low. Studies also show that magnesium levels will drop in the second half of your menstrual cycle, which is often the reason women crave chocolate during this time. If you find yourself craving chocolate more often than not, try swapping your normal bar for a few pieces of dark chocolate as it contains less sugar and calories.
Do you feel like the foods you can’t stop thinking about are generally bread, pasta and potatoes and any other carb-filled meals you can get your hands on? This could actually mean you lack nitrogen in your diet (found in high protein foods like meat, fish, nuts or beans). People often crave this food group when they’re trying to cut carbs from their diet completely, which is never a healthy idea! To conquer this craving try something like a turkey burger or snacking on a handful of nuts. It's important to make sure that you’re eating every food group in moderation.
Whether you’re craving coffee or caffeine via fizzy drinks, this could be your body telling you that it’s dehydrated. Instead of opting for a cappuccino or a glass of cola, try to ensure you’re getting the recommended eight to 10 glasses of water a day in order to keep you hydrated. This craving can also be a sign that you’re lacking in salt and iron. To tackle a salt craving try eating tomato, celery or olives, and when it comes to upping iron levels, opt for more red meat.
Constant cravings for fried foods can mean your body is crying out for healthy fats, especially if you’ve been trying to cut fat completely from your diet in a bid to lose weight. Healthy fats are found in things such as avocados and cashew nuts, and can help you lose excess fat from your body. Also, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to lower the risk of illnesses, such as heart disease and arthritis, so it’s important that you’re including these in your diet. To inject more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, try raw walnuts, wild salmon and flaxseed oil.
Reaching for the sweetie jar or other sugary snacks on a regular basis can be linked to stress. However, researchers claim that craving sugar ultimately comes down to sleep. It’s no secret that feeling stressed can result in a poor sleep, which can cause chaos with your hormones and leave you craving high-calorie, sugary food and drink, like sweets and energy drinks. To satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard with the sugar, try opting for something like frozen grapes or a few strawberries dipped in some dark chocolate.
Are you in constant need of milk, cheese, ice-cream or pizza? This is probably your body trying to tell you that it needs more calcium. Cheese, milk and other dairy foods are a great source of calcium and vitamin D, and it’s not uncommon to lack these nutrients, especially in the winter months. In order to soak up calcium, your body needs vitamin D, so if sun exposure isn’t an option then try some vitamin D tablets and then introduce more dairy into your diet, but it's important you don't go overboard as too much dairy can be fattening.
TOP TIP Drink up!
Research shows that 80 per cent of people are chronically dehydrated. So rather than reaching for a quick fix, try drinking a pint of water and then wait half an hour – the chances are that your craving may have gone.