Your Cravings, Decoded
Just like an illness in our organs is likely to make itself known via skin, specific cravings can often mean we’re low on a certain nutrient or that one of our body’s systems needs our attention.
There are days when all you want to eat is an entire chocolate cake and there are days when a giant bowl of fresh vegetables is all that appeals to your food sensibilities and there are days when pizza is the first thing you think about upon waking up. This, my friends, is what we commonly refer to as “cravings,” and while it’s easy to villainize or try to fight them, food cravings are actually an important form of communication between our bodies and our brains. Just like an illness or abnormality in our organs is likely to make itself known via our skin to signify something is off, specific cravings can often mean we’re low on a certain nutrient or that one of our body’s systems needs our attention.
Curious what your body is trying to tell you via the foods you can’t stop thinking about? Read on!
If you’re craving spicy foods…
You may be getting sick. When the body experiences an invasion of germs or bacteria, it will often heat up to kill whatever has taken up unwelcome residency in your immune system. Since spicy foods raise your core temperature and cause you to sweat, your intense sriracha or Szechuan cravings may be an early sign that you’re coming down with something. It’s your body’s way of trying to nip it in the bud before it gets bad. It’s one of the reasons people eat garlic, ginger and chili peppers when they’re feeling under the weather. Be careful, though — too much spice can backfire and lead to indigestion and dry skin.
If you’re craving sweet foods…
Check your blood sugar. A seeming need for sweets, particularly carb-heavy ones, is likely your body trying to tell you that it’s tired and needs an energy boost. While your body definitely needs sugar to operate properly, not all sugar is created equally. Rather than reach for a baked good or candy bar, consider sources of natural, non-processed sugar like fruit, raw honey, brown rice or sweet potatoes. If your need for chocolate just cannot be stopped, choose a pick-me-up like mushroom-laced hot chocolate or beauty-boosting bites so your snack is pulling double duty.
If you’re craving salty foods…
Pour yourself a glass of water. If all you can think about is potato chips or something equally salty, consider grabbing a big glass of water to replenish your electrolytes before chowing down. When you’re not drinking enough water, your body gets confused and craves salinity. That said, too much water can flush much-needed electrolytes out of your system, starting the salt-craving cycle all over again. So keep tabs on how much water you’re drinking throughout the day and find an amount that makes you feel good. (Bonus: Your skin will be extra-glowy!) If water isn’t cutting it — or you’ve over-watered — roasted nuts and seaweed are healthy ways to curb a salt craving.
If you’re craving sour foods…
Something may be up with your digestion. That mouth-puckering after effect of eating sour, fermented, acidic or vinegary foods like lemons, sauerkraut and pickles? That has a purpose other than causing you to make a funny face. These flavors stimulate your salivary glands, which in turn let your digestive system know it’s time to get working producing bile to break down whatever you’re eating. If your stomach doesn’t have enough acid to digest food, you may find yourself craving kimchi or pickled vegetables as a way of upping the acid content in your digestive tract.
All that said, sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for a craving is to indulge it. Eat that pizza or candy bar if it feels like that’s truly what your body needs.
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