Cravings are generally understood as a yearning for a certain food, regardless of one’s hunger. Food cravings are regulated by areas of the brain responsible for memory, pleasure, and addiction, and are caused by anything that balances out our biochemistry. Here are what your cravings may possibly be saying about your lifestyle and/or health:
Sugar cravings are often a result of blood sugar imbalance. Craving sweets is often a matter of energy and sugar levels, if not a personal addiction, and can be a sign of stress. This is due to the increase in cortisol products responsible for releasing glucose from the liver, which raises blood sugar levels. Another cause could be lack of sleep as your body tries to make up for the lack of energy through sugar consumption. If you’re craving sugar, chances are you need some rest.
Fruit cravings: Because cravings often indicate a deficiency in certain nutrients, fruit cravings could indicate that your diet lacks vitamins.
Carb cravings: Numerous researches have shown that craving for carbohydrates has been linked to one’s feelings of happiness. Carb cravings can be an indication of feelings of sadness as dictated by serotonin and tryptophan levels. That being said, go treat yourself! Remember though that self care is more than indulgence and means doing things that should be good for your body.
Chocolate cravings: If your cravings are not driven by the high sugar content or addictive taste of chocolates, chances are, your body is looking for caffeine for some energy kick.
If you’re hoping to curb those cravings, it is best to add more protein and healthy fats into your diet to serve as an alternative source of energy. Unlike sugar, fats and protein are proven to be steadier sources of energy and are more filling to the stomach, hence, the need to refill on energy lessens.
Searching for something salty? Salt cravings are highly linked to stress response and adrenal gland functions. Adrenal glands are responsible for sodium retention and regulation and guess what, salt just so happens to be made up of sodium (NaCl). When one becomes stressed, these glands get impaired which results in an increase in salt cravings due to poor sodium retention. Hence, your body is not necessarily craving for something salty but for something of high sodium content. It is notable that working out has similar effects on the body as stress, which explains that feeling of wanting to munch on something salty after a good sweat.
Protein cravings: Protein cravings say a lot about your lifestyle. Craving protein can be a sign of iron and/or vitamin B12 deficiency (only found in animal protein). Moreover, it can be a sign your muscles are not getting enough protein for regeneration.
Nut cravings: Nut cravings are highly influenced by stress and anxiety levels. Nuts are high in fats and are often craved by stressed and anxious individuals as they contain beta-sitosterol which are found to have antidepressant and stabilizing effects. That being said, maybe you should start figuring out what is causing you all these emotions and try to fix it ASAP.
If you’ve been on a salt search for quite a long time, it’s a good idea to take a break and relax or perhaps tone down your workouts for a while. Giving in to your salt cravings doesn’t mean you have to chow-down on fries and chips all the time as there are plenty of healthier options to choose from, such as vegetable chips or nuts.
Remember: Everything in moderation. We only live once and only have one body to live in, so take care of your body by listening to what it needs and not restricting yourself too much. Take note though that not listening to one’s cravings is not always a good decision as our body is just telling us what we need. So, before you ignore that chocolate bar, make sure you are getting enough sugar in your body for it to function normally.