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Translating Food Cravings | Kaster Chiropractic Nutritional Services

Nearly everyone will get a craving for something once in a while. It is important to listen to your body and not simply ignore these intense urges.

Food cravings can be emotional, mental, or physical in nature. While emotional eating and mental cravings may not be in your best interest if your body is genuinely asking for something it may be a sign of a deficiency or an underlying condition where your system is asking for help.

What causes cravings?

Physical causes

  • Leptin and ghrelin imbalances: (These are your hunger and fullness hormones) May cause you to crave certain foods or just more food in general.
  • Pregnancy Hormonal changes during pregnancy may influence your smell and taste receptors. This can cause you to crave foods you usually might not have a taste for.
  • Premenstrual syndrome(PMS): The fluctuation in estrogen and progesterone which occur just before your period may intensify cravings, especially for high carbohydrate based foods.
  • Bad Sleep: Lack of quality sleep can disturb your hormone levels responsible for managing hunger, fullness, and circadian rhythm, leading to more intense food cravings, especially in the evenings.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: If you are not getting enough protein, fiber, or certain vitamins or minerals your body may be signaling you that they need these items to work at full capacity.
  • Dehydration: Too little water intake can cause hunger as well as thirst. Make sure you are drinking enough water daily.
  • Digestion: The type of bacteria present in your gut may influence the frequency and type of food cravings you may feel.
  • Exercise: Getting in physical movement decreases the desire to munch on foods needlessly.
  • Processed foods: There is some evidence that highly processed foods rich in added fat and sugar may cause addiction-like symptoms, increasing cravings. Drop the processed foods.

Mental & Emotional causes

  • Stress: Stress raised cortisol levels which are directly linked to cravings and hunger making you more likely to binge eat as a comfort mechanism.
  • The habitual context of eating: You may associate an activity with food. I.e. Popcorn at a movie or ice cream on a hot summer’s day.
  • Your mood: Mood may trigger cravings. Depression can be a trigger for many to engage in the eating of comfort foods.

Craving non-food items – such as ice, dirt, laundry detergent, paper, or other items is almost always a signal that you are too low in certain nutrients such as iron. Never eat nonfood items. Check with a nutritionist and see how they can help you. Spinach and red meat would be a good place to start.

The most common cravings and what they mean

  • Chocolate: Cocoa is nutrient dense with magnesium, iron, and fiber. If you are craving chocolate, indulge once in a while. Try and stay with dark chocolate that is low in sugar and high in cocoa value 80% and above.
  • Salt: Strangely if you are craving salt (including high-sodium foods like Chinese food), you are actually thirsty. Drink some water or an electrolyte-balancing beverage. If you are on diuretics your body may actually need more salt. Salt also can be a craving sign of stress.
  • Carbohydrates: Simple carbs like cookies, pasta, and bread are quick energy sources but they don’t help for long. If you’re craving high-fat, high-carb foods, look at your sleep schedule. Your body might be asking for fats and carbs because they generate hormones that assist in regulating your sleep.
  • Red meat: There are only so many foods in our diet that are good sources of iron and zinc. If you’re craving red meat, ask yourself if you’re getting enough of these minerals. Most people can enjoy a small amount of red meat weekly and still maintain great health.

Strange Cravings

  • Craving Pickles: pickles can be a sign of tired worn-out adrenal glands.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Your body may be trying to balance your pH level.
  • Candy: Your glucose level may have taken a dip. Just know that a slower-digesting carb (sweet potato, rice, white potato) would be a better choice when you feel this way as the sugar from candy holds no benefit and burns off quickly.
  • Cheese: If you crave cheese, you may need more healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, fatty fish) or may be lacking in Vitamin D.
  • Ice Cream: Helps with digestion and heartburn.
  • Soda: Caffeine could be the culprit as well as addictive chemicals. Soda is simply a habit and not a craving for anything your body really needs.

NOTE: You can decipher the difference between a legitimate craving your body has because it needs something and stress eating by sitting with it after you eat it and seeing if you actually feel better. If yes, great, your body needed it. If not, think twice and pause before doing it again.

****If you cannot seem to get your cravings under control it is time to consult a nutritionist. It is a very good idea to be tested for deficiencies so that you can supplement and add in foods that will help.

Give the office of Kaster Chiropractic a call today at 239-332-2555 to schedule your nutritional evaluation and get your health on track this new year!

Treating Patients in the Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Surrounding Areas Since 2003
With Musculoskeletal Conditions & Other Conditions Requiring Chiropractic Care