Are Food Cravings Red Flags for Underlying Issues?

You have probably heard a lot lately about the “root cause” for certain conditions like Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune disorders.  I know that one of the top questions my clients ask is “how did I get sick?” They want to know the root cause … understandably and so do I.  Although the answer isn’t always as straight-forward as we would like it to be, nutrient deficiencies do play a role in every condition thinkable including hypothyroidism, autoimmune disorders, and even cancer, to cardiovascular disease and everything in between.  Obvious nutrient deficiencies like a vitamin C deficiency that results in scurvy, or a vitamin D deficiency that leads to rickets are examples of extreme vitamin deficits.  Not all deficiencies result in such obvious consequences but instead play a role in the overall picture.

fruitsOne of the most common misconceptions out there still today goes something like this: “I eat healthy, so I couldn’t possibly be deficient in vitamins or minerals.”  Wrong!!  For example, our soil is devoid of nutrients … it is devitalized, as compared to it’s mineral content from several years ago.  Did you know that today, it takes almost 9 cups of spinach to equal the nutrient value that just 1 cup of spinach did less than a decade ago?  In addition, we live in a toxic world, lifestyle factors and the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a concern because it is laden with chemicals, food additives, food colorings, and who knows what else.  The point here is that despite the fact that you may be eating what you believe to be “healthy” foods, many people don’t absorb nutrients as optimally as they should.  This is a result of many factors including toxins in the air you breathe, the water you drink, the foods you eat, and the personal skincare and household products you are exposed to every day.  Your body needs optimal nourishment through nutrient dense foods, not the empty calories found in processed foods.

ImmunidexThere is an excellent way to find out if you are lacking in any nutrients.  I particularly love the SpectraCell test with Immunidex technology which assesses your immune system antioxidant status. You receive a score for how well your immune system can respond to outside threats.  To break that down further, Immunidex is an indicator of how well your lymphocytes (a specialized white blood cell) respond to challenges from either the environment or potential disease burdens. Correcting your nutrient deficiencies improves immune function … which by the way if were functioning correctly in the first place, the “root cause” would be dealt with by the immune system and prevent you from getting sick in the first place.  If this test isn’t covered by your insurance or is not in your budget, there is another way to try and  find out.  It’s certainly not objective data but it can be insightful.  It also requires you to be in tune with your body and commitment to keeping a food craving & symptom journal.

When I was a little girl, my grandmother knew what every craving I had for food meant – or at least from my child’s eye view, that seemed to be the case.  Science has come a long way since then and it’s true!  Clinically speaking, it is recognized that there can be relevant cravings which may need follow up with your doctor.  For example, magnesium deficiency in even the slightest amount will trigger stress in the body and this can drive cravings.  Take a look at a few of the most popular specific food cravings below.  What they indicate may require repletion in your body.  If you suspect a deficiency, ask your doctor for the SpectraCell test.  To be honest, I do it every year simply because I have Celiac disease in addition to Hashimoto’s and Pernicious Anemia which means my capacity for absorption needs to be monitored.

Food Craving

  • Oily & Fatty Foods – Calcium, B Vitamins, Vitamin C
  • Sweet Foods – Chromium, Fiber, Sulfurous Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Chocolate – Magnesium
  • Coffee – Iron, Sulfurous Cruciferous Vegetables
  • Cheese – Fatty Acids, EPA, DHA
  • Alcohol – Calcium, Protein, Glutamine, Potassium
  • Crushed Ice – Iron, Vitamins for Iron Absorption
  • Red Meat – Iron, Vitamins for Iron Absorption
  • During Menses – Zinc
  • Overeating – Tyrosine

I want to encourage you to talk with your doctor or health coach to be sure to discuss any food cravings you may be having. Test their knowledge!  An informed practitioner can help you to further discover what might be going on.   I can’t tell you how often persistent food cravings are dismissed or overlooked by healthcare providers even though it can highlight an underlying issue or root cause of a seemingly unrelated issue you may be experiencing. If you have or suspect an autoimmune disorder you simply MUST be tested for micronutrient deficiencies.  Always, always advocate for thyself!