My parents taught me, when I was quite a bit younger, that for the most part, you should listen to your cravings when you have them, because it means you need something that food offers. Eggs and red meat for iron, Orange juice for vitamin C, potassium in potatoes, salty foods for potassium, water for, well, water!
Of course, I was also taught that you should have other cravings at moderation. The reason I was told was sometimes, there is too much of a good thing - like keeping to minimum salty foods during pregnancy to avoid water retention. And not too much sugary foods, because too much sugar is not good for you.
Of course, that's not stopped me from bolting down a whole candy bar on occasion.
But recently, I was cutting up some cabbage for the chickens, and on a whim, ate a piece. Now cabbage and are usually not friends, but all of the sudden, the cabbage tasted wonderful! Poor chickens; as I was taking the bowl of cabbage out to them, I was eating a portion of it along the way! I even cut some up and took it for my lunch on Thursday - raw, of course.
So this started me wondering about cravings, and I did some research. A large number of articles stated that all cravings are purely psychological - we eat what we eat because we are stressed, depressed, need comfort. Well, I'm sure that is partially right. I know my favorite comfort food is one the rest of the family is not really fond of - browned ground beef mixed with onions, on top of heavily buttered mashed potatoes, lightly salted. Yum.
But then I found a chart that talks about the cravings for everyday foods, a lot of them junk foods, what we lack that causes it, and what the healthy substitutes are.
For example - you are craving burned foods - like meat burned to a crisp on the grill (a friend of mine LOVES these), then it means you are likely lacking carbon. Not a far stretch. The healthy alternative? Fresh fruit! (That will make her happy - she also loves fresh fruit!)
The list goes on, and includes things like a lack of appetite as well as general overeating - a lack of certain minerals can actually cause either one.
Now, if you are like me, your cravings also include the good for you foods. I found that craving the cabbage means a lack of sulfur and glutamine. When the low sugar oatmeal cookies I made two weeks ago seemed the best thing ever, it is likely I was lacking Avenin.
Here's the link to the chart that tells you all these good things.
But now - what do these things do for my body? Well, Avenin is oat gluten. If you are allergic to glutens, this could be bad for you. But for the rest of us, it provides a starch we need, and basically what makes a good bagel or pizza crusty so nice and chewy.
Glutamine is an amino acid - and an important one. For someone with IBS, it helps eliminate the diarrhea. It is used to help cancer patients recover from the effects of radiation. For the rest of us, it helps with depression, moodiness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and can help moderate ADHD.
Sulfur is the third more abundant mineral in the human body, after calcium and phosphorus. It helps keep the skin clear and the joints working right. However, some of us are also allergic to it as a medication or a supplement on its own. It appears that while I can have the methylsulfonylmethane or MSM version, found naturally in eggs and other foods, my body has no tolerance for the DMSO/dimethyl sulfoxide version. Believe me, a sulfur allergy is quite irritating, and is something that needs to be mentioned to your doctor - it is a common base element for several antibiotics and medications.
I could go on, because sometimes I crave broccoli, and other carrots, and sometimes I cannot get enough water. I like the table, because it shows craving that I had when I was younger that I never knew were the cause of deficiencies in my diet. For example, did you know that eating ice can mean you lack iron? This can be a serious issue for anemics or former anemics. If only I knew this when I was teenager. And I thought it just meant I was thirsty.
As with all things, use this chart in moderation. Don't overdo any mineral, and don't see the enjoyment of a food one day as a craving - it's not.
Be healthy in your eating habits, but do pay attention to your body. It knows what it needs.
In the meantime, I'll keep sharing my cabbage with the chickens.