How to cope with these 5 common food cravings.

It's good to hear the body, they say, but it's even better to understand what your body is telling you. When your body asks for chocolate, it doesn't exactly mean eating several ounces. If you're low on energy, it doesn't mean a few fries are the remedy because salt "lifts" me up.

Cravings: we all suffer from them. Once cravings come to us it's almost impossible to resist not going for that piece of chocolate or those chips.

But where do the cravings come from, why does the body sometimes give us signals that it needs something?

Find out what causes cravings and why you should listen to your body.

What your sweet cravings mean: Imbalances in glucose levels

1. Sweets: Imbalances in glucose levels or stress

You want candy, cookies, ice cream, or cake. It may be a sign that blood sugar levels are irregular, that there are hormonal imbalances, stress, or lack of sleep.

2. Chocolate: lack of magnesium and oxytocin

We usually have chocolate cravings. In women, it may be caused by the menstrual cycle: women lose magnesium, a mineral found in cocoa.

That's why the chocolate cravings are asking us to fill up the magnesium tanks. Chocolate increases oxytocin (the love hormone) levels. During this period it is good that we absorb all the good feelings we can. So an ounce or two of dark chocolate high in cocoa is just what you need to get in a good mood.

What do your chocolate cravings mean?

3. Simple carbohydrates: we need a good dose of tryptophan

If you need pasta or white bread you may be missing an amino acid called tryptophan, which is vital for the production of serotonin (aka the happy hormone, as it impacts our overall well-being), and sleep quality

If you're missing your slices of bread, you can get cranky. But you have other healthier options that contain tryptophan: peanuts, soy, sesame and pumpkin seeds, 

What do your carbs cravings mean?

4. Salty food

The craving for salt (sorry, exactly snacks!) comes from a lack of sodium. Dehydration can also be a cause of salt cravings. Sodium in high amounts is not healthy but the body needs a certain amount (maximum 5 g per day). A healthier option for these cravings is homemade popcorn or unsalted nuts.

5. Meat, even if you are vegan.

Are you a vegan? If you don't consume enough iron, zinc, or vitamin B12 you may start to crave meat. Especially, if you've turned vegan.

This does not mean that a vegetable diet is not balanced. What it means is that if your diet is vegan you will have to plan more what you eat to make sure you get all the nutrients your body needs.

Iron can be found in legumes, nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. These foods should be eaten in combination with other foods rich in vitamin C (oranges or peppers) to improve nutrients absorption.

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