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Understanding Your Food Cravings: Psychological Issues or Nutrition Deficiencies?



Food craving is an overwhelming and sudden desire to eat a particular food. This desire can seem uncontrollable, and a person may feel as though he or she cannot satisfy their hunger until they get the specific food.



What is Food Craving?


Food craving is an overwhelming and sudden desire to eat a particular food. This desire can seem uncontrollable, and a person may feel as though he or she cannot satisfy their hunger until they get the specific food. They are hard to avoid and naturally emerge as a firm or desperate need for a certain kind of food.


We all experience these cravings at some point in our life. The two main reasons for our food cravings are mental or physical; they can differ from person to person. While food cravings can be an alarming sign of an underlying health condition, having food cravings isn't that bad; they can tell us the nutrients our body needs, the mental state that we currently have or simply remind us to enjoy life a little bit more.


According to research, around 90% of people experience food cravings in their life. Every person's food cravings differ from each other and don't last very long. They are temporary and mostly consist of consuming unhealthy fats, salty or sweet food. Data reveals that men are more likely to prefer salty foods, while women are more likely to crave chocolatey, high-fat foods. Let's take a look deeper of what might cause food cravings.



Is My Craving a Symptom of Food/Vitamin Deficiencies or Psychological Issues?


Food craving can be linked to vitamin/nutrient deficiency in your body. If you always crave sweets and chocolate, you should add magnesium, chromium, and tryptophan to your diet.

You can also introduce supplements in your daily routine to balance out your diet. However, there are factors other than food that can trigger food cravings.


Food cravings are most likely to be triggered by multiple environmental variables and don't have much to do with asking for certain nutrients from the body. It can be that you have been too strict with your diet that your body is asking you to have a 'break' and indulge in certain foods. It is important to understand first what might cause your recent food cravings: physical, psychological or the need to indulge.



Psychological Causes of Food Cravings


Several causes, both physical and behavioural, can trigger food cravings. Being mindful of them will help you decide what activates your cravings for food and potentially help you control them. Here is a list of physiological causes that trigger food cravings.

  • Depression/stress

A higher level of anxiety or depression increases your hormone level. An increased level of hormone can contribute to food cravings. It is also known as stress-eating. What you can do to overcome this are meditation, taking a break from work-related activities, going for a walk in the nature or talk to a therapist.


  • Mood Swings

A person's mood swings also trigger food cravings. For example, when you are sad or happy, you crave particular specific food. Your selections of food are not precise. It depends on your current mood and can vary from person to person. How to overcome food craving due to mood swings: do something that you enjoy, yoga, sleep, taking a hot bath and/or meditation.


  • Addictive Personality

People who have extreme or addictive personalities show signs of food cravings. Food cravings can be a symptom of hormone imbalances, unbalance diet, elevated stress levels, sleep deprivation, or physical exercise. To better understand your mental health state, we recommend seeing a therapist and/or a nutritionist.



Nutrients Deficiencies Behind Different Food Cravings and What to Eat Instead


  • Chocolate

Suppose you have intense chocolate craving, chances are that you have a magnesium deficiency. What you can eat instead: nuts, seeds, kale, fruits.


  • Sugary Food

If you have an urgent need to eat sweets, chances are you have Chromium and Carbon deficiencies. What you can eat instead: grapes, sweet potato, apples and any other fresh fruits.


  • Carbs

If you suddenly want to eat a lot of bread, pasta or potatoes, you might have a Nitrogen deficiency. What to eat instead: high protein foods, meat, fatty fish, nuts, beans, chia seeds.


  • Fried Food

Have you ever found yourself craving anything deep fried? This might be a sign of Calcium deficiency. What to eat instead: green leafy veggies, organic cheese.


  • Salty Food

Craving a bag of chips can be a sign of stress or of Chloride and Silicon deficiencies. What you can eat instead: fatty fish, goat milk, cashews, nuts, olives, seeds.



How to Reduce/ Control Food Cravings?


The first step towards controlling your un-invited food cravings is to reduce stress levels. Stress or depression is a massive contributor to high food cravings. Stress eating is caused by physical changes in your body and mind. Taking care of your mental health will help you reduce or control these insane cravings. According to research, persistent stress is linked to more food cravings, and that this led to participants reporting a higher body mass index (BMI).


Another right way to control your midnight hunger is to drink plenty of water. Dehydration can also lead to food cravings which means if you stay hydrated, then there is a chance of beating food cravings. Get enough sleep and make sure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs for healthy growth.


Summary


The bottom line is nutrient deficiency, and a mental or psychological change in your body can cause food cravings. Figuring it out makes it a lot easier to control these un-wanted food cravings. Various strategies can help individuals reduce their food cravings, such as staying hydrated, proper sleep, and taking care of their mental health. It can also help to replace nutritious foods with unhealthy ones. Consult a doctor to rule out nutritional shortages as a cause if you are currently yearning for unhealthy snacks.