nice cream

It all started with an innocent-enough stroll through your Instagram feed. Now you can’t stop thinking of those cupcakes. Junk food cravings can come out of no where, and when they hit they can be hard to shake. While giving in to a craving isn’t the end of the world, it can be a missed opportunity if you don’t pay closer attention to what our bodies are telling us.

We appreciate this guidance from registered dietitian, Keri Glassman which reveals the roots of common junk food cravings and points us in the direction of their real causes…

The Craving: French Fries

What It Means: If you’ve got a hankering for fries or other salty snacks like potato chips and pretzels, you could be slightly dehydrated. Hey, it’s always great to drink more water, so start there. But it could also mean you need calcium, since studies have shown a marginal deficiency of the mineral could stimulate the desire for salt, and others have shown women on low-calcium diets crave salty food more.

How to Satisfy It: If you indulge the craving, the salt will temporarily increase calcium levels in the blood, essentially tricking the body into thinking it’s taking in calcium when it’s not. Instead, reach for calcium-rich foods like yogurtkefir, almonds, tofu, sesame seeds, and sardines.

The Craving: Chocolate Cupcakes

What It MeansAn overactive sweet tooth may be a signal that you’re magnesium deficient, according to research. And while magnesium deficiency is not proven to cause PMS symptoms, some studies have shown increasing the amount of the mineral your diet can decrease PMS symptoms such as irritability, fluid retention, and headaches. I don’t know about you, but for me, those symptoms often lead to cravings for a bottomless tub of chocolate ice cream.

How to Satisfy It: A diet rich in foods such as spinach, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains will ensure that you don’t become magnesium deficient. Then, you can eat sugary treats as conscious indulgences, when it’s really worth it, rather than constantly fighting the urge.

The Craving: A Juicy Burger

What It Means: Here’s a case where your body’s sending you a clear signal. A strong craving for meat may mean you’re iron-deficient. In fact, studies show that in pregnant women and others with iron deficiencies, food cravings serve to prevent or alleviate the nutritional deficit.

How to Satisfy It: Go ahead, grill up a grass-fed, organic burger, since red meat is the best source of iron. You can also get it from fish and poultry, or if you’re a vegetarian, in tofu, legumes (lentils and kidney beans), nuts (cashews and almonds), seeds (pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds), oatmeal, dried fruit (apricots and raisins), and vegetables (mushrooms and potatoes). Just keep in mind that it’s harder for the body to absorb iron from plant-based sources. To help, pair iron-rich foods with foods rich in vitamin C, as it will help your body absorb the iron.

The bottom line? Listen up! Your body has got a lot to say. Your food cravings may be telling you a lot more than, “Do not pass go, head straight for the nearest Shake Shack.”

For more tips on unpacking and tackling your toughest junk food cravings, check out these stories!

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  1. I sometimes have a very bad crave for french fries (which I don’t usually eat). But I thought it’s salt that I lack!

    Luna | 08.17.2017 | Reply
  2. Red meat is not the best source for iron. Do your homework on heme and non-heme iron. If you eat foods with heme iron (animal foods), your body will absorb all the iron, regardless if it needs it or not. Too much iron has been linked to cancer. When consuming non-heme iron from plants, the body absorbs what it needs and disregards the rest. Eat plant, that is what our bodies were made for.

    Loretta | 08.18.2017 | Reply
    • Non-heme is barely absorbed. For many people, myself included, eating only plants for iron is a ticket to iron deficiency illness. Been there, done that.

      Kiki | 09.02.2017 | Reply
      • likewise! learned a valuable lesson through this illness…eat meat.

        Danielle | 05.30.2018 | Reply
  3. And actually oysters and mussels have more iron than red meat, per gram.

    Emily | 09.06.2017 | Reply
  4. know where it is from. Organic, grass feed not industrially processed. Especially the Blood O types need meat. I would prefer to be without but I had health issues, now all good.

    Jules | 04.13.2020 | Reply
  5. No one “needs” meat. Some want meat. We are not designed to eat meat, but it’s a habit.

    C. Thornburn | 04.17.2020 | Reply
  6. If you fry fries in virgin coconut oil instead of seed oils, and maybe using radishes, celeriac, or parsnips instead of potatoes. The coconut might flavor them a bit, but it won’t be long before you get used to it. The taste will still be delicious but much healthier.

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