When it’s 3 p.m. and the mid-afternoon lull has set in, do you hear your favorite salty snack calling your name? How about after dinner? Does that sweet treat just sound too good to resist? We’ve all been there. The truth is trying to withstand the temptation of food cravings can be downright difficult.
And while you’d like to believe that your common cravings—likely something salty or sweet—indicates some underlying vitamin deficiency, this likely isn’t the case. So before you reach for that delicious chocolate bar, keep in mind that cravings come from your brain, not your body. Instead of fulfilling your body’s nutritional needs, your cravings are actually just triggering your brain to release the feel-good hormone, dopamine.
Even though your unhealthy cravings may not indicate an underlying vitamin deficiency, they may still be trying to tell you something. Here are 4 cravings that could be something more than your mind playing tricks on you:
1. You’re really thirsty. It’s normal to enjoy some icy water in the midst of the summer heat, or after eating something spicy for lunch, but if you’re guzzling down water and still can’t get enough to quench your thirst, this may be a sign of pre-diabetes or diabetes. When your body tries to flush out excess sugar, this ups your number of visits to the bathroom and your need to drink more.
2. You’re seeking out something salty. If you find yourself searching for something salty, your body may be running low on electrolytes. Essential for your body to continue running normally, electrolytes play a vital role in your body’s many communication systems. To help ensure a healthy balance of fluids and electrolytes, your body may crave salt as it is one of the key electrolytes, along with potassium, chloride and bicarbonate.
3. You’re craving chocolate. One of the most common cravings before the onset of a migraine is chocolate. While you may experience a longing for something besides chocolate, if you’re prone to migraines, it’s important to recognize that specific foods can indicate that you’re in the prodrome stage of a migraine. Unfortunately, this stage can last anywhere from days to minutes before you experience pain, so it’s important to learn your unique migraine signs and triggers.
4. You’re craving something tasty—and unhealthy. Then chances are you’re probably running low on sleep. When you’re extra tired, this is a double whammy for your brain. Not only does junk food, high in salt, sugar and fat, sound extra good because it gives your body a much needed (temporary) spike in energy, you’re also too tired to fight the urge to indulge. When you’re sleepy, it can be hard to make good decisions, especially when it comes to food.
Crush Your Cravings
Your diet can often times make or break how you feel. The foods we eat have a surprising impact on our overall health and wellbeing. But how do you know what foods are really best for your body? It can be hard enough to decode your cravings, let alone ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients you need.
With an extensive range of helpful resources at GMC, you’ll discover nutrition made easy. Not only can you work with our experienced and knowledgeable primary care providers to determine your unique health needs, you can also partner with our registered dietitians to develop a customized nutrition plan just for you.