What your cravings say about you
Can’t go a day without chocolate? Late night cheese feasts giving you nightmares? Your body could be telling you something – food cravings can be a sign that you’re deficient in certain nutrients – so next time you get an urge for a junk food, try a clever food swap first:
You crave: chocolate
What it means: You could be deficient in magnesium – a mineral that’s vital for healthy hair and skin. Levels of magnesium drop during the second half of your menstrual cycle, which suggests a possible link with PMS and choccy cravings at this time of the month.
Try: If only chocolate will do, choose a variety that contains at least 75 per cent cocoa, as this will contain more magnesium and less sugar. Want to kick the habit altogether? Nuts are a richer source of magnesium than chocolate, particularly Brazil nuts. Leafy green veg are also good, as is brown rice and wholemeal bread.
If you’re a chocoholic and suffer from PMS symptoms such as irritability, headaches and cramps, it may be worth trying a magnesium supplement too.
You crave: sweets
What it means: Sweets are full of chromium, so sweet cravings could suggest a deficiency in the mineral that works alongside insulin to support the uptake of glucose from the blood into the cells of the body. Top up your levels and you could find those pick and mix cravings disappear.
Try: Eat plenty of chromium-rich liver, kidney, beef, chicken, carrots, potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, wholegrains, and eggs and you won’t have those afternoon energy slumps that lead you reaching for sugar.
You crave: meat
What it means: Craving meat can be a sign your body needs more zinc. Zinc plays an important role in immune function, among other things, so, if you’re running low, you’ll be more susceptible to colds and flus. Zinc is also vital for cell division and healthy skin, hair and nails.
Try: While red meat is the best source, don’t overload on the high-fat meat – shellfish, lentils, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cheese and wholemeal bread are also good.
You crave: cheese
What it means: If you find yourself craving cheese, you could be low in calcium – the mineral that helps form and maintain healthy teeth and bones and plays a vital role in nerve and muscle function.
With more and more health-conscious dieters avoiding saturated fats, an increasing number of us are worryingly low in calcium, putting us at risk of osteoporosis as young as 40.
Try: Cheese, milk, yoghurt, sardines and tinned salmon, broccoli and almonds – all rich in calcium. Remember too, that in order to absorb calcium, your body needs vitamin D, which the skin produces in response to UV rays, so expose your forearms to sun for ten to 15 minutes a day.
You crave: carbs
What it means: Carb cravings can be a sign you’re low in the amino acid tryptophan.
A lack of it can lead to low mood, anxiety and sleeping problems.
Try: Upping your protein intake may help curb your carb cravings and improve your mood.Good sources of tryptophan include turkey, milk, eggs, cashews, walnuts, cottage cheese and bananas.
You crave: ice
What it means: Craving ice can be a sign that you have anaemia and that your body is deficient in iron – perhaps as ice helps relieve painful inflammation in the mouth that can be a symptom of anaemia. If you do crave ice and suffer from low energy see your GP.
Try: The best source of iron is red meat. If you’re not a meat eater try plant sources like wholemeal bread, figs, apricots, spinach, broccoli and lentils. Sardines are a good source too.