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Ten food cravings and what they say about your health

By Evelyn Makena
Thursday, October 15th, 2020
Food cravings.
In summary

Whether it is an uncontrollable urge to eat French fries or for sweets, we all get cravings once in a while. Once it’s on your mind, you feel like you’ve just got to have it. But cravings are a psychological and chemical mechanism your body may use to try send you messages, writes Evelyn Makena.

Salt

Sodium is vital for proper muscle functioning. While most times a salt craving could just be simply a preference for something that is savoury, other times it could be an indication of something more.

Salt craving could be the body’s way of correcting some imbalance in the body such as dehydration or electrolyte imbalance.

The two can be caused by vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive sweating.

Chocolate

Constantly craving chocolate is a sign of magnesium deficiency, which can lead to anxiety and depression.

Some studies show that people who are between 100 and 400 grammes of dark chocolate daily were less likely to report symptoms of depression.

Dark chocolate might be a natural cure to depression, which could explain your craving.

The downside of this is that most of the bars stocked in supermarkets have a low amount of dark chocolate and are high in sugar.

Chocolate contains magnesium and theobromine, two compounds shown to promote muscle relaxation and reduce stress hormones levels.

Fatty or fried foods

If the urge to have some deep fried chicken and mandazi is becoming regular, it is time to probe your diet deeper.

Fatty or fried foods.

These foods should be more of treats rather than a daily meal due to their high calories and fat levels.

Craving them could be more psychological than physical. The urge to eat fatty foods could signal an emotional desire to release from restriction as the body may occasionally yearn for what it cannot have.

Tea and coffee

We are a nation of people whose breakfast is synonymous with a hot cup of tea. Some will tell you that skipping that hot cup of tea or coffee is enough to give them a headache.

There are several reasons we might crave tea one of them being our need for hydration.

Caffeine is the other main reason why we crave for these beverages. Those that are addicted to caffeine often experience withdrawal symptoms such a low energy levels and headaches and a craving may be a way to correct this.

Carbs

Carbohydrates such as potatoes, bread, chapati and pasta are referred to as comfort foods.

Apart from giving emotional comfort to the one eating it, craving these foods could be an indicator of low blood sugar levels.

Carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are energy giving foods and cutting down on them can leave the body in need of a quick energy boost.

Whatever the diet one may adopt, it is important to always include fist size of starchy carbs such as rice, bread, potatoes with every meal.

Sweets

If you are often reaching out for sweets, it could be an indication that you are not getting enough sleep.

The body craves sugar when it is tired. A 2018 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that when people increased the number of hours they slept, they were able to cut down their sugar intake significantly.

This could be one of the reasons why lack of sleep is linked to obesity as it makes the body crave sugar.

Most sugary products have refined sugar, which increases your risk of getting non-communicable diseases.

 Soda

Most sodas have high amounts of caffeine. A compulsive craving for soda could be the body’s way of asking for a pick me up feeling brought about by caffeine.

But with every bottle of soda you take, you could end up addicted to caffeine.

Craving cola could also mean that you are missing calcium and magnesium in your bones.

Taking cola is counteractive in boosting these minerals levels as it further depletes calcium and magnesium creating a vicious cycle of craving.

French fries

The urge to eat chips otherwise called French fries is a common craving. The craving can mean that you are missing carbohydrates and healthy fats, especially Omega 3.

French fries.

Desire for potato chips can signal sodium deficiency caused by excessive sweating since they are salted.

Instead of downing uncountable plates of chips, consuming high amounts of nuts and avocado is a better alternative.

Our bodies do not manufacture fatty fish and sorely depends on foods such as fatty fish to get the daily requirement. 

Water

It is common knowledge that if you are thirsty the body is telling you that you are dehydrated and you need some water.

But a regular craving to drink water could signal a deeper health concern- diabetes.

Excessive thirst and frequent urination are some of the earliest warning signs of unstable insulin levels.

Excess glucose builds up in the body making kidneys overwork to process it.

When the kidney is overloaded, it excretes the glucose through urine making you thirsty again. 

Non-food items

For things such as ice, clay, dirt and chalk are absolutely unusual in your everyday world, but if it comes on, then you know something’s up.

This type of desire is often linked with an iron deficiency or mineral deficiency in general.

Get your fill of dark leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.

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