By SHARON MOREY
Cravings are body’s way of telling us that something is missing. By sending those messages across, our bodies can maintain balance of minerals, vitamins as well as energy levels.
So, what does it mean when we crave a particular food?
- Something sweet
As you eat, your blood sugar goes up and insulin is released. If you are eating refined sugar and carbs they will hit your bloodstream fast and cause an imbalance in blood sugar. Your body will release more insulin to deal with this rapid rise in blood sugar. Once dealt with, the blood sugar levels will drop, but because you’ve generated the release of so much insulin, the levels will drop too low and you will soon feel like snacking on a bar of chocolate. The more sweets you eat, the more you will crave them – it is a catch 22.
Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast, which contains protein as well as carbohydrates (scrambled eggs with rye bread) and continue this combination alongside vegetables; this helps to maintain a steady flow of blood sugar. This means that by the time you get to 4pm, your blood sugar should not have dropped so much that you need that quick sweet fix.
However, if you still feel like you need to snack on biscuits or chocolate bars try natural yoghurt with a pinch of cinnamon or raw cocoa powder and a handful of almonds.
Another craving that most of us experience on a daily basis is chocolate. However, what we really want is magnesium. It has been estimated that approx. 80% of the population is lacking magnesium in their daily diet. Magnesium not only supports the immune system by preventing inflammation but it also plays a crucial role in balancing the nervous system. The best way to deal with this craving is to reach for a dark chocolate (70% of cocoa).
If you think like you are not eating enough green leafy vegetables and nuts to keep your magnesium levels balanced, include a supplement, for example Synergistic Magnesium, available from www.questexcellence.com for £5.99.
- Something salty
If you crave salty food it could mean that your sodium levels are too low, usually due to dehydration (after exercise, illness or drinking alcohol). Sodium is a very important mineral that maintains water balance in our body and helps regulate blood pressure. You can quickly replenish it by snaking on e.g. salted popcorn, which is naturally high in sodium.
- Stodgy carbohydrates
Carb cravings are a sign of low levels of the amino acid – tryptophan, which is necessary for the serotonin production – a ‘happy’ brain chemical. It plays crucial role in mood, sleep and wake cycles as well as digestion. Instead of reaching for stodgy carbs try to include certain protein in your diet that can provide you a fair amount of tryptophan, e.g. bananas or walnuts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sharon Morey is a nutritionist at Quest Vitamins.