Written by Lisa Guy, founder and resident naturopath
Most of us have had food cravings from time to time, and for some, these can be all too consuming. Certain cravings can actually be the body’s way of telling us that we’re deficient in a certain vitamin or mineral, or that we have unbalanced blood sugar levels.
Here are some common cravings and what your body may be trying to tell you.
If you’re craving sugar it’s probably because you have unstable blood sugar levels. Eating too many sugary, processed carbohydrate foods such as white bread, pasta, cakes and cookies, will cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly, causing a spike in insulin, which causes blood sugar levels to plummet again. This results in low energy levels, and the body craving more sugar in an attempt to get blood sugar levels and energy levels up again. People can also become addicted to the high that sugary foods give them.
Craving sweets can also be a sign that you are low in the mineral chromium, which helps keep blood sugar levels balanced in the body. Supplementing with chromium can really help those who need an extra hand curbing their sugar cravings.
Cinnamon is beneficial for helping keep blood sugar levels balanced by improving insulin sensitivity. It’s insulin’s job to take glucose from the blood into the cells to be used as energy. Our Bodhi Organic Masala Chai is a delicious way to enjoy the health benefits of cinnamon. Also try adding a spoonful of cinnamon to porridge, chia puddings, and protein balls, or simply mix a teaspoon with warm almond milk.
The best way to keep sugar cravings at bay is to keep blood sugar levels balanced by…
- Starting the day off right with a wholesome breakfast e.g. natural muesli with nuts, seeds, natural yoghurt and fruit; or eggs, baby spinach and avocado grainy toast; or chia pudding with fruit. Don’t skip breakfast.
- Having good quality protein with each meal and snacks. Protein helps stabilise blood sugar levels and will give you a sense of satiety. Good choices include raw nuts and seeds (nut butters, tahini), legumes (hummus), sugar-free yoghurt and cheese, eggs, fish, and chicken. Some good protein rich snacks include hummus and veggies sticks, smoothies (plant-based protein powder), yoghurt, handful raw nuts and seeds, almond butter on apple wedges.
- Reducing sugary, processed foods like cakes, biscuits, soft drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, muesli bars, and chocolate.
Are you are one of those people who need to have a coffee first thing to wake-up, or for an afternoon pick-me-up. People who feel flat and low in energy commonly crave either sugary foods or stimulants like coffee and other foods and drinks that contain caffeine to help boost their energy levels. Caffeine is also addictive so craving it could be your body going through a caffeine withdrawal.
Instead of reaching for a coffee you should try green tea (which has much less caffeine and the bonus of being rich in antioxidants). Try out Bodhi Organic ViridiTEA. Taking a good B complex multi-vitamin is a great way to give you a boost in the morning. B vitamins are important for energy production, and are good ‘anti-stress’ nutrients.
For those who crave salt, and who are feeling tired all the time, this could be a sign that you’re adrenal glands are fatigued. If your adrenal glands become tired and start to under-perform , they slow down the production of aldosterone (the hormone responsible for maintaining sodium and potassium levels in and out of cells in the body). When aldosterone levels fall you may experience lower sodium levels, which can lead to you craving salty foods. Support your adrenal glads with adaptogenic herbs such as Withania, Siberian ginseng, bacopa and rhodiola. Our Bodhi Organic VitaliTEA contains these adaptogens.
People who crave chocolate may be chasing that endorphin rush you get when chocolate hits their mouths, or they may be lacking in the mineral magnesium. Magnesium is not only important for nervous system health and energy production, but it also helps to balance blood sugar levels and curb sugar cravings. Including more magnesium-rich foods in the diet could help curb your chocolate cravings. Good sources include raw nuts and seeds, legumes, wholegrains, and fruits and vegetables. When you do have chocolate make sure it is good quality dark chocolate. Raw cacao is a good source of magnesium which can be used in baked goods, healthy desserts, smoothies or healthy hot chocolate.
Then there are some people who have more bizarre craving for non-food items, like dirt, sand, chalk, soap, and ice, this is called ‘pica’ (latin word for magpie, the bird that will eat anything). Pica cravings are thought to be associated with nutrient deficiencies. For example craving ice can be a sign that you are low in iron. I have heard many women say they craved ice when they were pregnant. Women’s blood supply increases by a third during pregnancy, so women need to have a good steady supply of iron in their diet during this time.