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What Do Food Cravings Mean?

Learn what food cravings mean from nutrition expert Alex Jamieson in this Howcast video.


The truth about your food cravings is that there could be all kinds of reasons for them. The first is actual biochemical and the next one is emotional.

When I say biochemical reasons for your food cravings, I mean that your body may actually be craving something that it's missing. You might be low in energy and craving some sugar or caffeine. Your body may be telling you that you're tired, that you actually need to take a break, that you need to take a 15-minute nap or that you didn't get enough sleep last night. Your body may be craving chocolate when actually it needs magnesium or iron. You could actually get that magnesium or iron from healthier foods like nuts and seeds or from more iron rich foods like greens.

The emotional reasons behind your cravings are sometimes harder to understand and take a little longer to unwire. The emotional reasons behind your cravings could be loneliness, depression, sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, overwork. You really need to take a look at what's been happening before your food cravings hit you to see if something has set you off balance to see if your body is reaching for a food craving to help you feel calm in the next few minutes.

Your body is very smart. It knows what foods are going to help you feel better immediately. So, don't beat yourself up over your food cravings because your body is actually telling you, 'I know sugar is going to make me feel better in the next two minutes, so I want that cookie.' Actually, your body is telling you that something is off balance. So, really take a look at what's been happening in your life to understand where your food cravings are coming from.

If you're a pregnant woman or if you know a pregnant woman, you know that food cravings are a very hot topic with that population. That's because our food cravings just get exacerbated. They grow and they become more meaningful when you're pregnant. You may be craving more food or more of a certain type of food because your body actually needs more of certain minerals or of certain macro-nutrients like protein or carbohydrates or fats because your body is helping to develop your child.

Your emotional cravings may be stronger during pregnancy as well because your hormones are fluctuating on a much higher level. You may feel the added pressure and stress of growing your family or of changing your work schedule, so really take a look at whether your cravings are because your body feels you need more food or if you're nervous about becoming a parent.

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