In this post I am exploring a sensation that has been blamed for our consumption or over consumption of certain foods since we were old enough to make excuses! How often do we tell ourselves or others that ‘we crave’ chocolate, crisps, cheese, soda, fried food or even something non-food related… such as dirt or coal?
We tend to assume that our craving is a form of addiction that only one food or drink can satisfy, but in fact it is more likely that it is our body reacting to a lack of an essential nutrient absent from our regular diet. Or that we are under stress and that has resulted in a imbalance in our hormone production.
I am going to be looking at some of the causes of a craving, whether it is a need for an essential nutrient or is down to a habit that has formed or because we are stressed. I will also give you the food fix that will supply that nutrient or suggest some strategies to cope with an unreasonable expectation for a food by your body and your mind.
Last week a craving for Chocolate
Salt cravings and trace minerals.
Women in particular can be hit by a salt craving as they experience more hormone fluctuations than men.
We sometimes forget that certainly during ovulation, your body is preparing for pregnancy. It requires the optimum environment for egg fertilisation, and then safe implantation in the womb. If you are deficient in essential nutrients, even those that have a less major role in our body’s health, there will be a nudge to ingest what is required.
Trouble is there are mixed messages. Our brain signals what it needs but it gets lost in translation, so when we get a craving for salt, diving into a bag of chips smothered in table salt is not exactly what the message contained.
This also happens when you have a chemical imbalance that has disrupted your healthy PH balance in the body and this can happen during stress events, after a crash diet, or following an illness where eating has been irregular.
It can also result from dehydration which I covered in the first of this series.
Recently I wrote about some of the myths surrounding salt which has been demonised to the extent that some people are actually deficient in sodium. Here is a reminder of that post and then a look at the trace minerals that your body is asking you to find to restore its balance.
I originally shared this post three years ago and I wanted to update it with any new reports to support this surprising perspective on the salt we consume in our diet.
One of the first points that I want to make is that I am not suggesting that you consume industrialised foods that contain not only high levels of sodium but also many other additives that do not do your health any good at all. I am very much in favour of a ‘Cook from Scratch’ philosophy when it comes to our food, especially when cooking for young children, in which case you are the person who controls how much salt is consumed through cooking and supervising what is added to meals.
I have been a nutritional therapist for over 20 years, and one of the essential elements of my work has been to remain informed of new research as it becomes available. This has sometimes turned previously held beliefs on their head, and a number of experts and research studies do make us reassess our position on salt in the diet.
I have always watched my salt intake as high blood pressure has been a family health concern. I have also been obese for a great many years of my life and certainly have always struggled to maintain a healthy weight. I do not take any medication of any kind and I have worked to keep my blood pressure at normal levels.
However, if this research is to be believed, I may well have been going about this the wrong way by reducing my salt levels too far. I have read several articles written by Dr. DiNicolatonio and I am sharing excerpts from two that I suggest you read and consider.
I am not suggesting that you suddenly dive into the salt pot and certainly not to stop taking any medication. I am however excited to discover more about this line of research and will be keeping an eye on other studies.
Top scientist says all you’ve been told about salt is WRONG: It won’t give you a heart attack – while having too little will make you fat and ruin your sex life
You can read the rest of the post especially if you have a sugar craving!: Not enough salt in your diet can lead to being overweight with with sugar cravings
Apart from drinking plenty of fluids to ensure that you are not dehydrated, you do need to include foods in your diet, that are not industrially manufactured with additives, including an imbalance of nutrients.
What are Trace Minerals.
You will see a great deal of information on the need to take in sufficient calcium for healthy bones and nails, and magnesium to prevent cramps and to improve energy, but there are other trace minerals that are equally important, even though we do not need in huge amounts… these include chromium copper, iodine, iron, manganese, selenium and zinc.
If you do not include sufficient trace minerals in your diet then this could be the reason that you reach for a bag of chips plastered in salt! Or even that bar of chocolate!
Here is a list of the minerals the body needs and the foods where you can find them.
If you are eating a varied diet with foods from the list, you should be getting sufficient without supplementation. If you are over 50 you may find that you do need additional support in the form of a high quality multi-vitamin and mineral supplement. However, first make sure you are getting from the best possible source which is fresh food.
Go through the list and make a note of any of the minerals that you may not be getting sufficient off based on the food groups that contain them. Any questions please ask.
- Calcium – dairy, sardines, canned salmon, green leafy vegetables.
- Chromium – Whole grains, potatoes, onions and tomatoes – liver, seafood, cheese, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb and pork
- Copper – olives, nuts, beans, wholegrain cereals, dried fruits, meat, fish and poultry.
- Iodine – cod, mackerel, haddock, eggs, live yoghurt, milk and strawberries.
- Iron– shellfish, prunes, spinach, meats, cocoa.
- Magnesium –dairy, seafood, apples, apricots, avocado, brown rice, spinach.
- Manganese – beans, brown rice, spinach, tomatoes, walnuts, fresh fruit.
- Phosphorus – poultry, whole grains.
- Potassium – most fresh fruit and vegetables but in particular bananas, apricots, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, nectarines, potatoes.
- Selenium – halibut, cod, salmon and tuna, mushrooms and Brazil Nuts.
- Sodium – the best source of natural sodium is fish and shellfish, plainly cooked without batter.
- Zinc– seafood, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and tofu.
If you are looking for an alternative salt that has a balance of trace minerals and is more beneficial than table salt… Himalayan Pink Sea Salt... and here is an extract from an article that you might find interesting. It is more expensive than table salt but you don’t require as much and it provides a package of minerals as a bonus.
As scientific research has pointed out, “US Dietary Guidelines recommend a daily sodium intake 2300 mg, but evidence linking sodium intake to mortality outcomes is scant and inconsistent.” (1) The right salt in the right amount is actually very good for your health. Pink Himalayan sea salt contains over 84 minerals and trace elements, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron, so it does more than just make your food taste better. Let’s look at why you may want to make the switch to pink Himalayan salt for the its impressive health benefits. Instead of skipping salt all together, why not give it an upgrade?
Read the complete article:Pink Himalayan Salt
I hope you have found useful and please don’t hesitate to ask a question about the post. Thanks Sally.
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: My books and reviews 2021
Thanks for joining me for this post and as always delighted to receive your feedback… keep young at heart… thanks Sally.