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I've read that having cravings for certain foods might mean that you're deficient in certain vitamins or minerals. Lately I've been craving M&Ms and nacho cheese Doritos quite a bit. Any ideas what actual nutritional things I could be deficient in that would cause these cravings?

Big Dave from SLN asked this
January 20, 2012 at 8:53 AM

A:

Coaches
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Physiology does seem to play a role in SOME of our food cravings, though not all. Making this an excellent question, Dave.

Research has found that in some cases when we crave salty foods, it may mean we are not getting enough iron, calcium, or potassium. Though instead of going or those salty doritos, opt for a serving of yogurt or string cheese instead.

Chocolate cravings sadly do not hint at any potential nutrient deficiency, however it may simply indicate you are feeling blue which is certainly more common this time of the year. Sweet treats like chocolate help to induce the release of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin in our bodies, essentially releasing a mild, temporary antidepressant into our system. Though you do not need to reach for chocolate to reach a mood-lifting high, a healthy douse of exercise or even a romp in the hay with your partner will do the same! If you are actually hungry, a steaming bowl of whole grain oatmeal with raisins will also help to stimulate the absorption of serotonin due to the healthy carbs and vitamin B6.

Though cravings for junk food as you have listed may simply mean that is what your taste-buds, emotions, or mind desire - for reasons outside of physical hunger or nutrient deprivation. If you are simply craving a crunchy snack, try to replace your chips with carrot sticks and hummus. Or if you are jonesing for sweets, aim for a handful of frozen grapes or frozen pureed banana ice-cream with a drizzle of chocolate syrup :)

Cheers to good health! Jessica Corwin, RD

Jessica Corwin MPH RDN Health Coach answered
February 5, 2012 at 12:16 PM

i FOLLOW THE GLYCEMIC INDEX AND I HAVE LOST 20LBS I A YEAR AND A HALF. i STLL WANT TO EAT HEALTHY BUT NOT LOSE ANY MORE WEIGHT. i CRAVE SWEETS AND AM HUNGRY ALL THE TIME aNY SUGGESTIONS?

ray answered
March 15, 2012 at 5:26 PM

I'm not as sure about the glycemic index ray, but along the lines of Jessica's advice, sweet fresh fruit is always good. I've found especially lately that a bag of oranges has been the perfect replacement for a bag of M&M's, and the pulp seems to make it more filling for me. Maybe give that a try? (Kind of ironic because your default profile pic is an orange!)

Big Dave from SLN answered
March 16, 2012 at 7:14 AM

Dave & Ray, my husband is also a huge fan of oranges - that is one of his favorite nighttime snacks as he loves the sweet, satisfying flavor. While he sometimes eats more than one, I am happy he is choosing such a powerful antioxidant rich choice.

Ray, as many of us mistake thirst for hunger, I would first ask how much water are you drinking? A healthy goal is to drink 8 glasses of water each day (64 fluid ounces). If water is not your favorite beverage, you can try adding a splash of lemon or other juice to amp up the flavor or try drinking unsweetened tea with a pop of sweet flavor such as blueberry tea, pomegranate green tea, or a chamomile flavored with a touch of black licorice.

And as for sweets, I definitely agree with Dave's suggestion to incorporate at least 2 cups of fruit each day as a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth in a healthy way. Though there is certainly nothing wrong with having a treat outside of fruit as long as you are keeping an eye on the portion size. I treat myself to a piece of true dark chocolate or a cup of hot chocolate on most days :)

Finally, as you have lost weight, perhaps you are still trying to find the right balance of calories for your body. Check out this new tool from the USDA called "SuperTracker" to learn how many calories and servings of each food group are right for you: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/supertracker-tools/supertracker.html

This tool is certainly nothing you have to follow exactly, simply a good rule of thumb to point you in the right direction. Let me know how things are going for you!

In good health,

Jessica

Jessica Corwin MPH RDN Health Coach answered
March 17, 2012 at 9:14 AM
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