We all have cravings, there’s no doubt about that. It’s our body’s way of telling us what we need more or less of in our diet. During busy times such as summer, it is harder to connect with our bodily cycles and tune into what our bodies need. Here is a guide to help you tap into what your body is trying to tell you through your cravings.
Craving the salty flavour is your body craving minerals. When we are on the go, our adrenal glands use up a lot of our body’s minerals. These minerals include sodium, magnesium, zinc and also some essential vitamins such as the Bs, vitamin C and vitamin D. So: Include more salt in your diet through good forms of salt. This includes seaweeds, organic tamari, miso paste and actually salting your meals. Reach for Himalayan pink salt, sea salt and celtic sea salt rather than iodized table salt. These natural salts have more than just sodium in them, but a plethora of trace minerals. The negatively charged ions in real salt play an important role in hormonal, chemical and electrical processes in the body, especially when combined with water. Not to mention having trace minerals in your diet helps you hold onto water, eliminating frequent urination and keeping up your hydration. Furthermore, keep a wide variety of coloured fruits and vegetables in your diets to keep up vitamin C levels. Also include nuts, seeds, whole grains and pasture-raised meats for your to keep zinc levels up.
Who doesn’t crave chocolate? It makes complete sense that most of us do crave chocolate because this means we are deficient in magnesium. Magnesium is said to be the most common deficiency today. Although magnesium is in a lot of foods, most of us are so deficient we could benefit from supplementation. Magnesium bis-glycinate is the most bioavailable form of magnesium and helps with so many common symptoms including headaches, muscle cramping, restless leg syndrome, insomnia, dysmenorrhea (chronic pre menstrual cramps), muscle soreness and poor recovery from activity. Some foods high in magnesium include; dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans and legumes, fish, avocados, bananas and dark chocolate! ice cream, peanut butter and cheese: Do not fear these cravings, it’s ok! Craving these things means you aren’t getting enough fat in your diet. Fat is the only macronutrient that can signal to your brain that you are full. So, if we aren’t getting enough fats at each meal then we are reaching for the ice cream pail shortly after dinner! Good fats are found in good quality meats, grass fed butter, grass fed cheese, ghee, coconut oil, avocados, flax oil, olive oil, hemp hearts. Being a vegan/vegetarian, you are slightly more at risk for not getting enough fat in. Don’t be afraid to add a scoop of coconut oil or extra hemp hearts in your smoothie or to your morning oatmeal, coat your steamed veggies in olive oil or add a little extra flax oil to your salad dressing.
The sour flavour really stimulates appetite, digestion and digestive secretions. If you are craving sour or vinegar it could mean your stomach acid is a bit low. It can also mean you have a possible iron deficiency. The sour flavour specifically stimulates Hydro chloric acid (HCl) in the stomach; HCl specifically helps us absorb iron and B12. Listen to this craving, have some apple cider vinegar salad dressing or a splash of it in your water before a meal or lemon water. Increase blood building foods like beets, dark berries, dark vegetables, good quality meats and legumes high in iron; think red meat, organ meats, lentils and chickpeas.
It is so tough to not crave sweet, our body is literally designed to crave the sweet taste. To our bodies, sweet means easy, direct energy. It is important we get the right amount of the sweet flavour, just a different kind of sweet flavour than the one we are accustomed to. We want to include more of the full sweet flavour in our diet. Full sweet foods include carbohydrate rich foods in their whole form; grains, legumes, nuts/seeds and root vegetables. These naturally sweet foods have something else to offer us other than sugar, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. According to Ayurveda, all food is considered sweet, our taste buds have just evolved over time, but can be reset. Balance your blood sugar by adding in more fibre rich foods and more full sweet foods so your sugar cravings are curbed with more than those empty sweets. Use whole, natural forms of sugar such as honey, maple syrup, molasses and see if you can adapt your taste buds into loving the full sweet taste.
Jenna completed a 3-year program of Holistic Nutrition at Pacific Rim College. There she developed a strong understanding of Diet Therapy, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and some Western Herbal Medicine. She works with clients to find a permanent and sustainable fix to their health concerns using natural approaches that take into consideration each person’s bio-individuality. Find her at alpenglownutrition.ca