People who have food cravings have an intense desire to consume specific food. There isn’t a single explanation on why people crave foods but in most cases it is nature’s way of telling the body that it is lacking in certain vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
A large amount of people who start weight reduction programmes will find that cravings start to occur not too long after starting the programme. This is due to them limiting their intake of food and also cutting out certain foods from their diet - if some supplementation isn’t taken then the body starts to lack certain nutrients.
Food cravings in some cases can pose health risks and lead to binge eating and other eating disorders which in turn can lead to obesity. It is therefore important you understand the foods you are craving, why you are craving them and also what could be lacking within the diet.
The food cravings can be plentiful but below is a list of just a few that are more relevant.
a) Peanut Butter
A craving for peanut butter could mean you are under a bit of stress and possibly rundown. People who tend to run a low fat diet can crave peanut butter more as they tend to avoid fats and reduce proteins which peanut butter provides in abundance. Also it is a very good source of B vitamins and so could assume that the individual is lacking normal vitamin B intake.
As peanut butter is calorie dense and high in fats, albeit healthy, it isn’t a good idea to eat too much if you do not want to gain weight. Taking a B-Vitamin complex would be a better option in this instance. Also eating fish rich in oils can help diminish the craving and is also lower in calories.
Craving banana is more than likely a lack of potassium within the diet as bananas are extremely rich in this mineral. People who tend to use diuretics for water loss or who have an eating disorder can have an imbalance of the electrolytes within the body and usually potassium in particular. Also people who are involved in sports can have low potassium levels due to the amount they sweat.
A couple of bananas daily are fine to have but if a large imbalance is seen then potassium supplementation could be required. Incorporating some mixed seeds and nuts or using sauces rich in tomato puree can give good sources of potassium too.
Wanting to drink Cola or soda drinks in excess can be a craving for sugar, something sweet or caffeine based. Many who reduce calories will have a sugar craving as this is a quick source of energy but too much is not good within the diet and especially on a weight reducing programme. A healthy alternative to have to take the sweetness craving away is to have a piece of fruit like an apple, mango, kiwi or orange. Drinking water would also be far more beneficial and can also take away the hunger feeling and as a result reduce cravings.
An apple craving would suggest that the client has a lack of calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. If high saturated fats are eaten in the diet then a craving for apples can occur as the body could crave for pectin which would help lower cholesterol levels.
A chelated multi-mineral formula could be taken that incorporates at least 500mg of calcium with 250mg of magnesium per tablet along with other essential minerals of manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, iodine, chromium and potassium to further aid absorption of each of these minerals.
The craving for chocolate suggests the need for sugary, sweet foods along with caffeine. Some people who also have low moods will crave chocolate to give them a quick ‘’pick me up’’ but this ‘’fix’’ doesn’t last for long. Fruits are a good substitute to reduce the sweetness craving and drinking water will help too. Try adding cocoa powder to things such as natural yoghurt, skimmed milk and other drinks too. A small amount of dark chocolate is more beneficial than having milky or white chocolate.
In order to reduce overall cravings it is essential to have a good balanced diet and drinking beverages such as herbal teas and water are always better to have than sugary soda’s and such.
Also in today’s hectic and stressful society most do not get the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients required from their daily nutrition. As a result supplementing with a multi-vitamin and mineral formulas is a good way to go to help deliver these missing nutrients to the body and so can reduce the cravings for certain foods.
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