What makes you crave certain foods?

Food cravings are a dieter’s worst enemy. These intense or uncontrollable desires for specific foods are usually much stronger than normal hunger. In fact, a craving is not your body calling for energy, it is the brain calling for something that releases high quantities of dopamine in the body.

Sugar
Laden treats trap us onto the blood sugar rollercoaster and have us riding high before leaving us crashing in a hot mess shortly after.

What your body really wants is glucose.
Your brain and body need glucose for energy. In fact your brain can’t store glucose, so you need to give it a fresh supply every 3-4 hours. Otherwise, you will find your mood and concentration with dip. Go low with low glyceamic load fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries. Berries contain fructose (fruit sugar) along with fibre, nutrients and antioxidants making their natural sugars release slowly into your bloodstream. Eating these regularly will help keep your mood and energy levels steady throughout the day.

Salt

Nowadays so many of our foods are high in salt. When it comes to snacking, you will find it ramping up the taste of most of your favourite treats. If you find yourself craving salt, it probably isn’t those tasty pretzels your body is after.

What your body really wants is minerals.
We need a balance of minerals such as calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and other trace minerals to stay healthy. One of the signs your body could be deficient in these is a craving for salt. It could also be that you are dehydrated since sodium works by keep water in our body to hydrate our cells. Opt for with Himalayan pink salt or Celtic sea salt. Unlike white table salt, these are rich in minerals. Make sure you stay hydrated with plenty of pure filtered water.

Cheese
Cheese so darn irresistible. It tastes great, but your cravings for it could be about more than simply a love of cheese. In fact, they could be a sign of an essential fatty acid deficiency.

What your body really wants is Essential Fatty Acids.

Essentials fatty acids (EFAS) are the good fats which our body cannot manufacture. We, therefore, need to get these from our diet. The two primary EFAs are known as linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3). Increase your intake of your omega 3 warriors by including more nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds along with oily fish such as tuna, salmon, trout in your diet.

Coffee
If you struggle to start the day without a cup of coffee, you may need a boost in your catecholamines. When you drink coffee, caffeine blocks your adenosine receptors lowering your adenosine activity. This, in turn, increases the release of your catecholamines: dopamine and adrenaline. While serotonin is your feel good happy brain chemical, your catecholamines are your energisers and motivators.

What your body really wants is Tyrosine
The good news is that the amino acid tyrosine is excellent for supporting the production of dopamine and adrenaline. Most people make the mistake of switching to decaffeinated tea or coffee, but these still contain stimulants. Opt for green tea which contains a little caffeine but is rich in antioxidants. You could also increase your intake of tyrosine-rich foods such as fish, eggs, nuts, beans, oats.

Dr Christy Fergusson PhD. MBANT

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