They say that pregnant women crave what their body needs during pregnancy. But what if you’re not pregnant? What do certain food cravings indicate? Is it all in our minds, or are our bodies trying to tell us something? Almost all women experience cravings, and while some cases may be psychological, science has tied certain food cravings with nutritional needs. Do any of this sound familiar?
Ice Cravings: Research has shown that craving ice is a sign of anemia (an iron deficiency). Why ice? Researchers have suggested that chewing ice increases blood flow to the brain, and helps offset the sluggish feeling caused by anemia.
If you suspect you may have an iron deficiency, make sure you talk to your doctor! But some easy ways to boost iron – add a few spinach leaves to your morning smoothie! Or enjoy some steamed broccoli.
Sugar Cravings: Check your sleep patterns. If you’re not getting enough rest at night, you may try to unconsciously self-medicate with a quick energy boost through sweets. Though a fast way to pick up the energy, sugar also burns off quickly, usually leaving one feeling more tired and lethargic than if they’d countered their lack of energy with some longer-lasting protein.
If you’re tired, try drinking some cold water, or, as previously mentioned – some high protein snacks.
Cheese Cravings: Cheese often makes an appearance in comfort food, and for a good reason. As a source of l-tryptophan, cheese helps us relax and puts us in a better mood. Since cheese tends to make most everything better, pile it on!
However, if you’re conscious of your calories, make sure you go for high-quality cheeses. It’s better to have a small serving of a higher fat cheese rather than a large helping of chemically laden cheese. Monitor your portions.
Craving Chips and Fries: Ah – chips. Fries. The universal just-one-more-wait-where’d-they-all-go? food. Whether it’s the salt, or whether it’s the crunch, if you’re craving chips or fries, your body may be telling you it needs some healthy fats.
Consider snacking on a handful of walnuts, almonds, cashews, or avocado instead.
Craving Salt: Women who crave salt are generally experiencing a mineral deficiency. Studies have shown that women who crave salt are generally running low on calcium, magnesium, or zinc.
The body certainly needs salt, but before you overdo it, consider some other herbs and spices instead. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and maybe even rehydrating with a drink enhanced with electrolytes.
Chocolate Cravings: You knew this one was coming, right? A craving for chocolate may be caused by depression or a need to boost serotonin levels in the brain.
The good news – chocolate is good for you. But not all chocolate is created equal. Reach for a small piece of dark chocolate to satisfy that sweet tooth!
As with anything, make sure you share any constant cravings or changes in appetite with your doctor, as they may be signs of more serious issues that need to be addressed.