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What Do Your Food Cravings Reveal About Your Health?

Ms. Ayesha Nasir

2 min read

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Food cravings are not mere impulses. They can provide insight into what your body really needs. Our culture disapproves of cravings. Cravings are seen as harmful desires that we must not give into. However, cravings aren’t your enemy. Your body communicates with you through cravings. You should learn to interpret those messages in a healthy way. When you crave a particular food, your body might be trying to tell you that something is a little out of balance inside. Cravings are also sometimes linked to nutritional deficiencies or they may be a result of emotional, social, and environmental causes. We have compiled a list of interpretations based on what you consume. Here are some ways using which you can decode links between food cravings and your health:

1- Water

Reaching out for water when you are parched is normal. However, if you are always craving water, it might mean there is a deeper problem at play such as diabetes. One of the earliest warning signs of diabetes is excessive thirst and urination. When you drink more water, the kidneys have to work harder to eliminate extra waste from the body. When your kidneys can’t keep up, the sugar is excreted through urine and that makes you thirsty again.

2- Ice

If you are craving something cold, it could be a sign of anemia. Ice cravings are the same as having the desire to consume non-food items like dirt or paper and have been associated with low iron levels. Health experts have hypothesized that it might be because chewing ice temporarily boosts blood flow to the brain and counteracts the issues caused by iron deficiency.

3- Sweets

If you are always reaching for something sweet, it may mean that you are sleep deprived. People who do not get an adequate amount of sleep end up having a sugary breakfast to fight the feeling of tiredness. However, this is not a permanent solution and over-consumption of sugar may make you feel more exhausted in the long run.

4- Cheese

Cheese is an important ingredient of many comfort foods. Cheese has the compound contains l-tryptophan which promotes relaxation and improves mood. So if you are always looking for a cheesy treaty, it may signal that you are stressed out. Cheese cravings may also signal cognitive issues with memory and concentration.

5- Chocolate

If you always have an impulse to eat chocolate, it could be because you have depression. Consumption of dark chocolates increases the levels of the feel-good chemicals dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Chocolate also has the bromine and magnesium, both of which have been shown to decrease the levels of stress hormones and encourage muscle relaxation.

6- Soda

Some people are addicted to soda. Most people do it because they need their caffeine fix. However, soda cravings may also signal a calcium deficiency. Carbonated drinks contain phosphoric acid which leaches magnesium and calcium from the bones. This creates a cycle of craving and depletion.

7- Potato chips

Potato chips and their hot cousin, French fries, are two of the most commonly reported food cravings, but downing bags of the fatty junk foods may be a signal you’re low on healthy fats. Of particular interest are omega-3’s. Our bodies don’t manufacture those fatty acids, so to get our daily requirement we have to eat it in foods like salmon and other fatty fish. Or it may mean you need more healthy fats in general and you’re not getting enough foods like avocados, nuts, and olive oil.

8- Craving sweets

Are your dreams, both day and night, filled with visions of sugar plums (and more modern sweets)? If so, you might need to spend more time in dreamland. A 2018 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people increased the number of hours they slept, they significantly decreased their intake of sugar. So skip the candy and opt for some sleep instead.

9- Red Meat

If you are craving red meat — in the form of a hamburger, steak, etc. — it could mean your body is missing a key nutrient. According to doctors, red meat cravings sometimes occur in people who are anemic or have low iron in their blood. Red meat has high amounts of heme iron which is the most readily absorbed type of iron found in food.

If you can, add more iron-rich foods into your diet to help with this craving, including peas, lentils, tofu, nuts, and even iron-enriched cereals.

If you think your food cravings are persistent and unusual, you should consult a doctor. As discussed earlier, your food cravings can indicate that something is not right. Only a doctor can help in this regard. You can find and book an appointment with top Nutritionist in Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad through oladoc.com. You can also call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your health concerns.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Ms. Ayesha Nasir - Author Ms. Ayesha Nasir is a very well known dietitian and nutritionist in Lahore thanks to her numerous television appearances and a stellar reputation. She has appeared on City@10 as an expert guest numerous times and is also currently regularly seeing new patients.
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