Craving something sweet? Or maybe your tastes run more toward salty snacks. Whatever you’re hankering after, a sudden desire for specific foods can be your body’s way of signaling a hidden nutrient deficiency, new research reveals. Unfortunately, cravings can be the downfall of even the best-laid diet plans — especially when it’s for sugary, fatty, or fried foods. Thankfully, we’ve found science-backed tricks that make it easy to pass these temptations by — without feeling deprived!
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Crave salty snacks? Drink up!
Almost none of us have a salt deficiency, so why are chips, fries, and pretzels top cravings? “We often crave salty foods when we’re thirsty and dehydrated,” says Michelle Schoffro Cook, Ph.D., D.N.M., author of Food Fix. Indeed, University of California scientists recently proved that salt cravings are your body’s way of tricking you into replenishing H2O, by making you feel thirstier. The simple fix: The moment you feel a craving, down 8 oz. of water, tea, or a spritzer. Cornell University findings suggest the trick could quash salt cravings almost instantly.
Crave creamy treats? Load up on veggies!
“A sudden desire for creamy mac and cheese or nachos may be your body’s way of letting you know you have a calcium deficiency,” says Dr. Schoffro Cook. Indeed, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine find it’s an underlying issue for 68 percent of us. The problem? Simply loading up on calcium won’t help your body process the needed nutrient. What does work? Recruiting calcium’s sidekick, vitamin K, by adding a cup of veggies to one meal a day. The under-the-radar nutrient — abundant in broccoli, asparagus and Brussels sprouts — helps efficiently rebalance calcium levels, quashing cravings for creamy indulgences for up to 24 hours.
Crave chocolate? Go for a soak!
Most women report craving chocolate, and scientists now know why. “Chocolate is rich in magnesium, and when your body needs magnesium, it makes you crave chocolate,” says Dr. Schoffro Cook. The easy fix: Soak in an Epsom bath! The ancient salt contains high levels of magnesium, which is absorbed through the skin, slashing next-day cravings for up to 80 percent of women.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.