Do We Really Crave the Foods our Bodies need?

pexels-photo-248469 (1)         It all started when my son kept asking me for a slice of pumpkin pie in February. I kept telling him it was a seasonal desert but he didn’t want to accept it he would just reply, ” I’m just REALLY craving a Pumpkin Pie!” So I went to the grocery store and there were none to be found in the bakery with all the other pies. So I asked the baker if they had any and he went to the back and got one out of the freezer. I thanked him and told him of my Son’s craving and he said, “Oh well his body must be lacking some nutrient that Pumpkins have.”  I thought this was interesting so I decided to research if it was true. What I found is, In general there is no evidence to link our common food cravings with nutritional deficiencies but…

The 3 Most Common reasons for food cravings are:

  1. Simple Conditioning:

Certain Activities, places, people, times can trigger you to crave certain foods. For example if you eat popcorn every time you go to the movies, you are more likely to crave it when you go to the movies. If you drink a soda every time you eat pizza, your probably going to want a soda every time you eat pizza. Or Pumpkin Pie on Thanksgiving because it is a tradition!

2. Deficiencies:

Although there is not a lot of evidence showing that our cravings are linked to nutritional deficiencies, because if you think about it we would be craving more fruits and vegetables and healthy things our bodies need as opposed to sugary and salty things, there are some cases where it can be true. For example when your blood sugar levels drop because you haven’t eaten in a while, we crave sugary foods to raise them up quickly. Or those who crave ice, clay or paste may have pica — an iron deficiency that is most common in women.

3. Hormones:

Its kind of common knowledge that women crave chocolate during menstruation, that’s because right before that favorite time of the month levels of your bodies hormones fluctuate, most specifically estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen levels drop causing serotonin to be lower as well. Progesterone levels can fall as well causing lack of appetite and energy because it’s the hormone in control of blood sugar levels. When you get mood swings and low energy, you might begin to crave sugar and refined carbohydrates. This is why chocolate is so appealing to some women during PMS. Stress can also affect cravings, when you stress your body releases the hormone Cortisol, which causes the fight or flight reaction, which causes the body to crave carbohydrates and sugar, which are foods that provide quick fuel for blood system.

So all in all I think cravings are real but as to if it is specifically for what we are nutritionally lacking, I don’t think so. I think there are a number of different reasons, mentally and physically. I don’t think it hurts to indulge a little in the things we are craving to make our bodies happy! 🙂

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