Cravings and hunger are completely different. Hunger is controlled by your stomach being empty or full. When our stomach is empty (as long as our hunger hormones are working correctly), we will feel hungry. When our stomach is full, our satiation hormones will kick in to tell us we don’t need to eat anymore. Hunger is a survival mechanism to make sure that we eat. However, cravings are controlled by our brains. They’re often an effort to tell us we have a specific nutritional need.
Sometimes we have cravings because there’s a food addiction present, often in the case of stimulants or sugar. But if you do have a specific craving for something like chocolate, crunchy foods or salty foods, that is reoccurring, it very possibly indicates a nutritional deficiency. Below are a few examples.
What Your Cravings Mean
- Chocolate: A chocolate craving can often indicate a magnesium deficiency. What’s interesting is that women seem to crave chocolate more than men. It’s because women are more prone to magnesium deficiencies and true raw chocolate like raw cacao powder or raw cacao nibs contain one of the highest natural sources of magnesium on the planet.
- Salty Foods: Often times craving salty foods means that you have stress hormone fluctuations or stress hormone imbalances. You can restore that by doing whatever helps you de-stress. I highly recommend meditation, exercise and lots of dark leafy greens. Greens like spinach, kale, celery and olives are really good. Also make sure the salt you’re using is a real mineral salt like Himalayan Pink Salt, Real salt, and Celtic salt are excellent options because they contain many minerals. Just remember that a good quality salt is not going to be white in color.
- Cheese: If you’re craving cheese that can indicate that you need more essential fatty acids and/or calcium. You also might be craving cheese because it’s the only source of essential fatty acids that body recognizes. (If you don’t regularly get good sources of EFAs, this can be the case.) However, cheese is not the greatest source of EFAs, nor it is a good source of calcium. The best way to get more calcium is through dark leafy greens and sesame seeds. The best way to get essential fatty acid is through ground seeds, flax-seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, coconut oil and kale. Kale is awesome because it’s high in calcium and for its weight has high levels of essential fatty acids.
- Lack of Appetite: Do you often feel really hungry and you know you need to eat but you just don’t want to? You have no appetite and then several hours later you’re so hungry that you’ll eat anything in sight? I have experienced this, and when I finally realized it was deficiency, I was able to correct it. Lack of appetite can often indicate deficiency in several of the Vitamin Bs, especially vitamins B1 and B3. The best way to get B1 and B3 is through any yellow fruits or vegetables. Yellow crookneck squash, yellow bell peppers and nuts and seeds.
I like to look at deficiencies in our bodies as empty buckets. For every vitamin, mineral and nutrient that your body needs, picture an imaginary bucket in your body. Those buckets should be brimming over with particular nutrients, so that you can not just survive, but thrive! For your brain to work, for great energy and focus, for good mental health and for feeling like all engines are firing.
Check out the info-graphic I created below. I hope this resource will help you pinpoint some deficiencies so you can start listening to your body based on what your cravings are.
Which cravings do you have? Write in the comments below!