Decode your food cravings to find out what your body really needs

NEW YORK -- We've all experienced food cravings before, and it turns out that we should pay attention to what we want because it could be a sign something is missing from your diet.

So what do different cravings mean?

Think you crave chocolate? You might need magnesium. Crazy for something salty? Stress is probably the culprit. How about sweets? Your blood sugar is out of whack. Dying for pizza or cheese? You might need to bump up your omega 3s, so take a supplement or have some salmon.

WABC looked into the science of a craving.

"It's either a deficiency of a vitamin or mineral, or it's hormonal," said Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Dr. Steinbaum wrote the book about the topic and here's the payoff.

"They sleep better, lose weight, have more energy and better focus," she said. "And they are happy."

That got our attention, so we went to B Nutritious on East 76th Street, where one woman we chatted with went to feel better and quit her chicken parm addiction. She has lost more than 20 pounds.

Dietician Brigitte Zeitlin says three weeks and some good nutrition can kick your habit for good and even change your taste buds.

"You change your palette," she said. "When you want something sweet, you will want to grab some fruit instead of an Oreo."

In fact, 80 percent of the time you think you're hungry, you're actually thirsty.

So drink water all day, and get a blood test to see if you are deficient and might need some specific supplements. And eat protein-rich, fiber-filled foods like chia and flaxseeds that keep blood sugar levels normal and make you feel full.

Some great ideas are Greek yogurt, nuts, fish, leafy greens and fruits so that your food habits no longer haunt you.

It's great that our bodies cry out for things, you just have to know what it is you really need as you de-code your cravings.

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