Updated: Jun 1
Chocaholic? Donut addict? Find yourself craving a kebab or late night Pizza? Poor willpower may not be to blame. A deficiency in one of the key nutrients your body needs to thrive could be the reason you get cravings and over eat.
Here are some classic symptoms you may experience if you have a nutrient deficiency:
Pallor (pale skin)
Unusual food cravings
Periods of light-headedness
Defeating Nutrient Deficiency with Eat2Win 365
We encourage a food-first approach to health and well being, but if you are undiagnosed with for example Crones Disease or a food intolerance such as Lactose you may be at an increased risk of a nutrient deficiency. Your doctor can refer you for a simple blood test to help determine which specific nutrients you are lacking and explore if there is an underlying medical issue. However he/she will likely then refer you to a dietitian to fix it through your diet.
So the best way to avoid or remedy nutrient deficiencies is to make sure you are eating a balanced, nutrient rich diet...of course!
But how do you know if you have symptoms pointing to a nutrient deficiency? The answer is simple; listen to your body, more importantly listen to your stomach!
Here’s a list of the most common cravings for everyday foods and what they translate to in terms of a potential deficiency:
Calcium and Magnesium
Low levels of these two minerals—which often go hand in hand—prime you for sugar and salt cravings. Low Magnesium levels are known to trigger chocolate cravings. Both stress and eating too much sugar can deplete your Calcium and Magnesium stores further, worsening cravings and making you a prime stress-eating candidate.
Eat more of: Get your Calcium fix from bone-in sardines, dark leafy greens and full fat dairy products like yogurt, kefir and cheese. Hit your magnesium quota by downing nuts, seeds, potato skins, dairy and broccoli.
This class of vitamins is important because it helps your body deal with stress. B vitamins like B1 and B5 keep your adrenal glands functioning properly, and B6 and B9 aid in the formation of certain neurotransmitters that help regulate mood and make you feel good. In periods of high stress your body uses up these vitamins more quickly, making you prone to the effects of stress, like overeating, if your levels aren't sufficient. Other B vitamin depleters include caffeine, alcohol, refined sugars and medications like birth control pills and NSAIDs.
Eat more of: B vitamins are found in a wide array of meats, seafood, dairy and produce such as dark leafy greens, bananas, potatoes, avocados, egg yolks, chicken, salmon and yogurt—so ensure you're getting enough variety in your diet. Big salads are your BFF!
This mineral tends to be low in older people and anyone under a lot of stress (So that just about covers the entire population of our planet!) It's not so much that low Zinc makes you crave, but it does significantly dull your sense of taste, prompting you to add more salt and sugar to foods while seeking out extra sugary and salty items before you're truly satisfied.
Eat more of: This mineral isn't easy to find, but it's most prevalent in some animal sources like oysters, crab, prawns, liver, dark chicken and turkey meat (thighs) and to a lesser extent, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, eggs, green peas and nuts.
Craving a kebab or a Big Mac? Being low in Iron, which is especially common among pre-menopausal women, vegetarians and vegans, is notorious for causing meat cravings.
Eat more of: You can get a good dose of Iron from meat, poultry, and even fish. Plant sources of Iron aren't as readily used by the body, but your best bets include spinach, dried fruits, cashews, pumpkin seeds and legumes. For optimal absorption, make sure you eat your plant based Iron with a source of vitamin C: Think Spinach and Tomato.
If you find yourself on the phone to Domino’s for an 11PM pizza on a random Tuesday you may be low in Omega-3’s. A lack of these essential fatty acids is known for triggering cheese cravings. EPA and DHA (as opposed to the plant-based Omega-3 ALA) are your best bets for quashing these cravings.
Eat more of: EPA and DHA are most abundant in fatty fish like salmon, sardines and tuna. Even free range eggs from chickens that have spent time in the sun can pack as much as 600 mg of Omega-3’s per egg—about a third of your recommended daily value. Plant based ALA Omega-3 can be found in flax and hemp seeds – both great for baking with and topping salads.
Take control of your health and your waistline with Eat2Win 365. Find out more about how Eat2Win 365 can get you your goals and get your first week free!
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