Cheese, chocolate or pasta? What your food cravings mean
When is a craving not just a craving?
We all have that one food that just calls our name, no matter what else we eat. Maybe you have a particular weakness for cheese or can’t get through the evening without hankering for some chocolate.
As it turns out, this might be your body’s way of telling you something. We’ve gone through some of the most common food cravings ones to help you identify what you might need.
Craving salty foods like crisps, salted nuts or pretzels might be a sign that you have adrenal fatigue. This term is used to describe people under long-term stress; your adrenal glands produce hormones like cortisol, which helps us deal with stress. When cortisol is low, the body may not be retaining enough sodium, hence the salt cravings.
A salt craving could also indicate that you’re dehydrated or that you have an electrolyte imbalance.
If you find yourself dreaming of a big bar of Cadbury’s, you might need more magnesium. Magnesium is used for loads within the body (muscle and nerve function, balancing blood sugar level, regulating blood pressure) and can be found in foods like bananas, almonds, cashew nuts, spinach, broccoli and, of course, chocolate.
Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, the same chemical that’s released in the brain when we’re in love, so it may be that you just need a little love buzz.
Brie, cheddar, feta, the yellow, plastic-y sheets we put on burgers – cheese is always delicious. It also contains lots of different things your body might be lacking in such as sugar (from the milk sugar lactose), fat, Vitamin D, tyramine (an amino acid that regulates blood pressure) or l-tryptophan (which plays a role in mood and sleep).
Bread and pasta
Starchy foods are happy foods. Literally – bread, pasta, and other refined carbs can boost dopamine levels in the brain, contributing to feelings of pleasure.
Craving these types of foods might also mean your body is craving sugar, as your body processes starchy foods the same way it would a biscuit, bag of jellies or other sugar-rich food. That sugar craving could be caused by anything from a hormone imbalance (especially before your period) to stress or a lack of sleep.
If you’ve ever gone veggie or vegan, you'll know the feeling of craving a steak or burger in the middle of the night. But just because you can’t think of anything else, doesn’t mean you have to give in. It may be that your body simple needs more of the nutrients found in meat.
If you’re committed to the veggie life, you can up your protein, iron and vitamin B intake with eggs, Greek yogurt, nuts, lentils, beans, peas and green vegetables. In the case of an iron or vitamin B deficiency, a supplement may be necessary too.
Disclaimer: There’s more to food than nutrition. Health issues, emotion and occasion all play a role in what we want to eat. If you want to go deeper into what you crave and why, it is best to speak to a GP, dietician or mental health professional who can help.