If you’ve ever got to the end of a hard day and felt as though you need a glass of red wine, you’re not alone.
But what you might not know is that it’s not necessarily alcohol your body is craving – but protein.
It’s true. And what’s more, it’s not only a craving for booze that signifies you’re depleted in a certain different nutrient – this applies to sugar, salt, carbs and dairy, too.
FEMAIL spoke to the Australian nutritionist and author of The Forensic Nutritionist, Fiona Tuck, to help to decode our cravings and what they really mean.
FEMAIL spoke to the Australian nutritionist and author of The Forensic Nutritionist, Fiona Tuck (pictured), to help to decode our cravings and what they really mean
Often when you’re craving something, in fact you need a different nutrient (stock image)
The good news is that you can overcome your cravings – predominantly by giving your body what it really needs (left, stock image, right, Fiona Tuck)
THE SCIENCE BEHIND CRAVINGS
According to Ms Tuck, specific regions of the brain are activated when we experience cravings.
WHAT YOUR CRAVINGS MEAN
* If you’re craving carbohydrates, you might need vitamin B6. Look for it in turkey, salmon, chicken, sunflower seeds etc and they will increase serotonin levels in the body – this will also help with the winter blues.
* If you’re craving chocolate, try leafy green vegetables – your body might be low in magnesium. Get a green smoothie when you feel a craving and wait for twenty minutes.
* If you’re craving salty foods, make sure you’re appropriately hydrated. You should also reach for vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits.
* Craving red wine? Up your protein by way of salmon, red meat, seafood, dairy or nuts. Keep your calcium up.
‘We can get cravings for a few reasons,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘They might be because of a food addiction or an emotional response to something you’ve had before, or they might be because you’re deficient in a certain different type of nutrient.’
The good news is that you can overcome these moments of dietary difficulty – by filling your body with what it really needs.
‘When your body craves something, what it’s really trying to say is give me more nutrients,’ Ms Tuck said.
CRAVING CARBS? TRY TURKEY
For many people – Ms Tuck included – starchy carbohydrates including bread, potatoes, pasta and cake are what we turn to when we need comfort food.
However, you needn’t demolish an entire large pizza and reach for a slice of cake.
‘When we crave carbs, we’re often stressed,’ Ms Tuck explained. ‘You might not be getting enough vitamin B6.
‘Look for it in chicken, turkey, salmon, sunflower seeds, pistachios and eggplant, and also seek out tryptophan-filled foods such as salmon, turkey, bananas, spirulina, eggs and milk.
‘These will increase serotonin in the body and diminish cravings. It may also help with the winter blues in the process and make you less anxious.’
‘Often, when you crave chocolate, what your body is really saying is that it’s low in magnesium,’ Ms Tuck said – try leafy green vegetables (stock images)
NEED CHOCOLATE? OPT FOR LEAFY GREEN VEGETABLES
While some will fall into the carb craving side of the fence, others will experience a specific need for chocolate when they’re feeling low.
But rather than reach for the Dairy Milk, try whipping yourself up some leafy green vegetables.
‘Often, when you crave chocolate, what your body is really saying is that it’s low in magnesium,’ Ms Tuck said.
‘Try leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds or a magnesium supplement and see what happens to your cravings. I often recommend to people when they have a chocolate craving that they have a green smoothie and wait for 20 minutes.
‘It’s amazing what it can do for your cravings.’
Craving salty foods? You might need to increase your vitamin C or potassium levels (stock image)
FANCY SALTY FOODS? REPLENISH YOUR VITAMIN C LEVELS
TOP TIPS TO AID DIGESTION
* Chew your food properly – the first step of digestion begins in the mouth.
* Try apple cider vinegar or lemon juice in water to aid digestion.
* Manage your stress levels as much as possible.
* Increase prebiotic fibre in your diet – not to be confused with probiotics. Prebiotics come mainly from fruit and vegetables.
If you’ve ever felt a need for salt – and fast – first up, you need to drink water.
‘You could be dehydrated or low in electrolytes,’ Ms Tuck said.
‘You might also be struggling with low potassium or Vitamin C levels. Citrus fruits, strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes are all good for Vitamin C, while black olives, potatoes and spirulina will help with potassium.
‘Again, when you’re stressed, you’ll crave salt as the adrenal glands have to work harder and use up more salt. At these times, you might need to add a little more salt to your diet, but not too much.
‘Himalayan salt contains twice as much sodium as normal salt, so half goes just as far.’
Often, if you’re not getting enough protein, you might find yourself craving alcohol – paradoxically, alcohol can help with nutrient absorption, however (stock image)
WHAT ABOUT THAT GLASS OF RED? UP YOUR PROTEIN
Last but not least with the cravings is alcohol.
‘When I looked into it, I found that some wine can aid iron absorption and nutrient absorption,’ Ms Tuck told FEMAIL.
‘Also, if you’re not getting enough protein, often you will crave alcohol.
‘While alcohol essentially won’t help you as it depletes the nutrients, it also weakens the cell membrane to aid nutrient absorption.’
Swerve the glass of Pinot Noir for some read meat, poultry, seafood, dairy or nuts. Also, look at keeping your calcium and potassium levels up.
If you’re looking to take control of your cravings once and for all, Fiona Tuck (pictured) said you need to embrace the buzzword and be ‘mindful’
HOW CAN YOU TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR CRAVINGS?
Fiona Tuck’s new book (pictured) is available now
If you’re looking to take control of your cravings once and for all, Fiona Tuck said you need to embrace the buzzword and be ‘mindful’.
‘Recognise when you have a craving and realise if you’re emotionally craving something, or your body needs it.
‘Keep a diary and write down your feelings when you eat something – you could even look something up. If you know you need magnesium when you’re craving chocolate, perhaps you can have that green smoothie.
‘Tune in to your body. You’ll really notice a difference.’
Fiona Tuck’s new book, The Forensic Nutritionist, is out now. For more information, click here.