Common Food Cravings and What They Mean
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If you crave sweets, you may be experiencing blood sugar fluctuations. Yo-yo-ing sugar levels cause spikes in insulin production, which can put you at risk for type 2 diabetes. Instead, choose a piece of fruit—preferably one that's not loaded with natural sugars. And, in general, choose more high-fiber foods like beans and legumes and complex carbohydrates like whole grains.
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Chocolate cravings often indicate that your body may be deficient in magnesium. Many nutritionists estimate that over 80 percent of the population is lacking in dietary magnesium, which may explain why so many of us reach for chocolate. If you must, choose dark chocolate—about 75 percent cacao or higher. Additionally, eat foods high in magnesium, like nuts, seeds, fish, and leafy greens.
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Cravings for salty foods often mean stress may be taking a toll on your adrenal glands, which give us energy and help us to cope with stress. When you're overly stressed, your adrenal glands release cortisol, which can make you ravenous for high-fat, simple-carb foods that your body can use quickly. Instead, try meditation, breathing exercises, or other stress-management techniques.
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Not surprisingly, cravings for red meat usually indicate an iron deficiency. Often people crave burgers or steaks. Menstruating women are especially vulnerable to iron deficiencies, which can make them more likely to suffer from PMS symptoms according to study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Beans and legumes, unsulphured prunes, figs, and other dried fruits are high in iron.
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Cravings for cheese or pizza often indicate a fatty acid deficiency. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and may help lower risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and other joint problems. Reach for raw walnuts, wild salmon, and flaxseed oil, and add ground flaxseeds to your diet.
The Craving Cure
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Most cravings are actually signals from our bodies that we are dehydrated, but we misinterpret them as hunger pangs. By some estimates, 80 percent of people are chronically dehydrated. So before you reach for food to nix your cravings, quench them with some water. Then wait half an hour. More often than not, they'll be gone.