So, the other day I could barely think straight because I had this really intense craving for Tostitos chips with medium salsa. Or, I would have even settled with French fries- but ONLY if they were from McDonalds because the McDonalds French fries are more crispy and salty. Now, there’s this rumor out there that says that women are the only people who have intense cravings because their hormones are out of control when they are either pregnant or experiencing pre-menstrual symptoms. This, however, is not true. Both men and women alike experience intense cravings when it comes to food because it is your body’s natural way of letting you know that you are deficient in something (usually). I say "usually" here because sometimes a person’s craving for certain food items stems more out of the need to mentally satisfy something else. But, let’s start off with the first reason: satisfying a deficiency.
A web site called fitsugar.com gives us a list of common food items/food groups that people typically have cravings for and then breaks down what it is our bodies are actually deficient in (hence the craving). For example, if you crave chocolate, what you really need is magnesium, which can be found in other, healthier items (not necessarily chocolate) such as: raw nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits. If you are just craving some bread and butter or toast, then more than likely your body is deficient in nitrogen which can be found in high protein foods (perhaps some eggs and/or chicken would do the trick). Ah, the dreaded oily snack, fatty food category (the category that drives us in droves to the nearest fast food restaurant); what this craving means is that we are usually deficient in calcium. As a healthier alternative, you might satisfy this craving by consuming foods such as mustard/turnip greens, broccoli, cheese and legumes. If you have a sudden urge to want to chew on ice chips for reasons other than becoming a model one day, then this means that you’re probably experiencing an iron deficiency. You can make this up by eating meat, fish, poultry, seaweed, green veggies and/or black cherries. For other pre-menstrual cravings, you’re more than likely in need of some zinc, which can be found in red meats (especially organ meats), seafood and leafy veggies.
For other people, food cravings go beyond just a deficiency that your body experiences. For most of these people, it is purely a mental thing. Many people throughout the world turn to food as a source of comfort. This can create a host of problems, however, such as overeating which can lead to dietary problems such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Some people who eat a lot due to these types of mental problems will sometimes develop bulimia as a result as well, though there is no real proof of the correlation between the two (just speculation at this point). So, how does someone turn to food for comfort? Well, the truth is, the people who turn to food for comfort don’t even realize, half the time, that they’re doing it! For example, when my grandfather died, my grandmother became a sort of recluse inside her house where there wasn’t a lot to do except eat, so she did. As a result, she gained a considerable amount of weight. Years later, she finally came to terms with what she had done and worked very hard to lose and continue to stave off the weight.
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