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The Link Between Cravings And Nutrition

The exact definition of a craving is “a powerful desire for something.” We’ve all been there when it’s mid-afternoon and our body is craving that mid-day bag of chips from the vending machine or at night after we’ve finished dinner when we “absolutely need a bowl of ice cream.” Cravings are normal and we all get them every once in a while. But did you know all these common cravings we get may be for an underlying reason? Our body is always trying to tell us something so we have to listen. Read on to get to the bottom of all your food cravings and what you can do to stop them!

Common Cravings

Here are the most common food cravings, and if you say you never crave these, you’re lying!

  • Salty foods: chips, popcorn, fries
  • Chocolate
  • Sweets and sugary foods: cookies, cakes, brownies, candy
  • High fat and fried foods: burgers, chicken wings, pizza
  • Red meat: beef, steak
  • Caffeine: coffee, energy drinks, soda

The downside of craving any of these foods are all the issues that come with them. Eating an excess amount of sugar and chocolate can lead to unbalanced blood sugar levels, which makes you more likely to get diabetes and have a poor immune function, while high fat and fried foods lead to high cholesterol levels which leads to poor heart health. Salty foods can lead to high blood pressure which over time can lead to stroke – uh oh! When you give into your unhealthy cravings, it can potentially lead to overeating and we all know that over eating can lead to weight gain… something we all probably want to avoid! Plus, that feeling over being bloated and uncomfortable is a result of poor digestion that stems from the over indulging. I think you get the point of how bad now on why all these cravings can lead to negative issues in your body…

Our own psychology can be detrimental when we try to curb cravings. If we’re trying to eat healthy, or are even a healthy eating veteran, and experience cravings for chips and candy, we can feel guilty about it. We have to remember that we’re all human, and it is normal to crave certain foods every once in a while, but if you’re having constant cravings, then there may be an underlying cause (more on that later!).

How To Curb Cravings

Cravings are something that can happen often, but there are ways to get around them! Usually, they are short lived so if you can power through for about twenty to thirty minutes, then you may find the craving goes away on its own. If you do want to give in, but stay on track with your healthy eating, then there is always a healthier version you can make! Craving chocolate? Have dark chocolate instead. Want chips? Kale chips are the better option. Need a slice of pizza? Have it on some cauliflower crust! You get the point…

However, if you’re having a craving for the same types of food, there may be a reason why!

What Causes Cravings?

You may be missing some vital nutrients if you are getting constant cravings. We’ve broken it down for you:

Craving salty foods may mean you are dehydrated, low in chloride or low in silicon. It is recommended to increase your water intake and incorporate celery, rye and seaweed for chloride and eat some nuts or seeds for silicon!

Craving chocolate is a tell-tale sign of magnesium deficiency. To avoid this, consume nuts, dark leafy greens, 75% and higher dark chocolate or cacao powder/ butter/ nibs!

If you find yourself craving dairies such as milk or cheese, it could be your bodies way of telling you it is deficient in calcium. Plant-based calcium is much better absorbed by the body so consume more sesame seeds, almonds, broccoli and collard greens.

Constantly craving sugar can mean a few different things. Your blood sugar may be out of balance from your food choices, so make it a point to consume macronutrient balanced meals, this means to have a healthy balance of protein, carbs and fats in your meals and snacks. Lack of sleep is another culprit of craving sugar because your body is needed energy. Just another reason why your 8 hours a night are important!

Craving fatty foods such as french fries or pizza can mean your body is craving fat… but it wants/ needs to healthy kind! Increase your intake of avocados, nuts/ seeds, healthy oils such as olive or avocado, fish or eggs to battle this craving.

If you are constantly craving caffeine, that is another way your body is telling you it is tired or over-worked. Caffeine is addictive, but it shouldn’t get to the point where you constantly crave multiple coffees or soda a day. Again, another reason to make sure you are sleeping and slow down!

If you’re craving red meat, your body is most likely low in iron. It is recommended to get your iron levels check and increase your iron-rich foods. Cooked spinach with fresh lemon juice (vitamin C helps the absorption of iron), lentils and beans are all great options.

Craving non-food items such as dirt is a condition called Pica. It can be caused from lack of B vitamins so increase foods such as leafy greens, avocados and poultry.

If you noticed a trend here, nuts are a common food that keeps coming up because of how nutrient dense they are! If you’re constantly craving anything and aren’t ready to give your diet a total 180, then start with consuming a small handful of raw nuts as a mid-afternoon or mid-morning snack! Raw ensures all the enzymes and nutrients are still in-tact and it’s not loaded with any sugar or salt.

Please talk to your doctor about any cravings you are having and have them check your blood levels to ensure there is no other underlying issue going on!

How Bad Can Cravings Get?

There are things we can do to prevent getting any cravings because we know how annoying they can be.

You’re most likely to get cravings when you are extremely hungry from either skipping meals or not being prepared with food when you’re at work, on the road, etc. Always have some form of snack in your bag or car to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Nuts, apples or homemade protein balls/ bars are great options.

If you recently started a new “diet” or are just eating less junk, your body has some adjusting to do and may be craving the unhealthy foods that you cut out. Be prepared with a healthier option such as homemade sweet potato wedges if you feel a french fry craving coming on or have some dark chocolate handy when you’re sweet tooth hits. You may also want to think about slowly cutting down on certain foods instead of going cold turkey to avoid any binges on junk!

Hormones can also play a huge role in cravings from pregnant women or anyone going through PMS so be prepared for that! This is for all the husbands and boyfriends out there…