Cravings and nutritional deficiencies

Cravings and nutritional deficiencies

by Lorena Valeri, naturopath

What do you crave?   Sweet, salty, fatty or starchy, other?


According to Vera Tweed (2015), experts are now saying that although unhealthy eating habits are formed in childhood, there is hope for us yet; they now believe that the brain can be re-programmed for a healthier culinary experience.

Also studies showed that although some cravings can highlight some nutritional deficiencies in many cases the food we crave may not exactly correct those deficiencies.   Some studies have found that sugar and starch cravings may be a result of low blood sugar and the body trying to correct itself (though not in a long term productive way).

Eating sugars and starches will spike blood sugar and as sure as things go up, they must also come crashing down (sometimes fast). To avoid this occurring, the Tweed (2015) recommends eating a protein and a healthy piece of fruit which will stabilize blood sugar for longer periods.


Other surprising triggers for cravings in the report:

  1. Late nights (which is not good, as our bodies are programed to store more calories at night). Apparently eating protein for breakfast helps to reduce sugary cravings at night time.
  2. Diet soft drinks / sodas
    1. Diet soda was found to ‘make people choose higher calorie snacks and feel less satisfied with food’ (according to a study at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth)
    2. Studies also indicate that artificial sweeteners promote weight gain and diabetes by changing the good bacteria in your gut.

Let’s breakdown the cravings:

Craving                                                Possible Deficiency                           Craving Antidote:

Sugary Foods Chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur or tryptophan Grapes, other fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes and spinach
Salty Foods Chloride or silicone Celery, tomatoes, lettuce, seaweed, cashews, or seeds
Fatty Foods or Dairy Calcium Mustard, turnip greens, broccoli, almonds, salmon, kale, legumes, low fat dairy or sesame seeds
Starchy foods Nitrogen Dark leafy greens i.e. Kale or collards, nuts and seeds, eggs, lean chicken or turkey
Chocolate – Dark 

Chocolate – dairy milk


Good fats i.e. Omega 3 type.

Nuts, fish and leafy green vegetables, organic cacaoNuts and seeds, tuna, salmon, mackerel, cod, eggs, avocado, cold olive oil




Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti craving salad dressing

(Tweed, 2015):

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, ½ cup water, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic. Blend in a blender and add to salads.


Dr. Fuhrman’s 6 steps to reduce cravings

(Tweed, 2015):

  1. Have a large salad as your main dish and include some raw vegetables
  2. ¼ – ½ cup of Beans each day – filling and satisfying, Dr. Fuhrman says they are a terrific antidote
  3. A Large bowl of steamed greens (steam for less than 13 minutes to prevent loss of nutrients)
  4. Nuts and seeds – include walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseed, sesame seed (Raw and Unsalted)
  5. Mushrooms and Onions. Mushrooms should be well cooked to remove the bacterial contamination
  6. Eat 3 fruits per day, and Dr. Fuhrman recommends eating them with your meals to dilute their sugars and slow their absorption into the blood. (Its preferable that fruit is fresh as opposed to dried).


Dr. Fuhrman, Tweed (2015) says that the longer you stay away from the starchy and sugary or salty craving foods from the past the less you will crave them.   This is great news for those wanting to reach a healthy weight, but have been sabotaged by your cravings in the past.

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