Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Myth Busting

Magazine article Vegetarian Times

Myth Busting

Article excerpt

YOU CRAVE A CERTAIN FOOD BECAUSE YOU'RE DEFICIENT IN ONE OF ITS NUTRIENTS

If you've ever found yourself desperately pushing through a crowd to get at the double-chocolate cupcakes in a display window, you're well aware of the power of food cravings.

Some people suggest that such cravings are an effort by your body to correct a deficiency in a certain nutrient. In the case of chocolate, that might be magnesium-cocoa is considered a good source of this vital mineral. The urge to dig into a tub of salted caramel ice cream, some would say, is an indication you are coming up short in bone-building calcium. And if you're desperately searching for that strawberry shortcake in your fridge, are you deficient in vitamin C?

Probably not.

Your hankering for certain foods is more likely caused by a mixture of social, psychosocial, cultural, and environmental cues rather than nutritional ones. Case in point, we most often yearn for foods laden with fat, sugar, and salt rather than nutrient-dense choices such as leafy greens and lentils.

A study in The Journal of Clinical Investigation found that volunteers who received an infusion of fatty acids (similar to what you would get from "comfort foods") while being exposed to depressing stimuli, such as dreary music, reported feeling less sad. And a British study looking at the state of mind of participants right before a craving struck found that they were prone to being anxious or bored and to experiencing a depressed mood.

These findings indicate that areas of the brain involved in emotions and moods are strongly affected by dietary elements that can impact cravings and the urge to eat. …

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