Starting a better lifestyle through nutrition is hard. You try your best to pick the right foods, but then your cravings hit. Boom! You devoured ten pieces of chocolate, and your diet is ruined, right? Wrong. Sometimes when your body craves junk food, it is telling you it is missing something. When you know what your cravings mean, you can arm yourself with the resources to crush them. Here are five popular cravings and tips on how to handle them.
Several studies show sugar is just as addictive as cocaine. When you eat sugar, it supercharges Serotonin, the “feel-good hormone” and the instant satisfaction you feel is addicting. In addition, sugar cravings may reveal several biological interactions like blood sugar regulation or energy production that are off.
Sugar cravings may identify lack of:
- Chromium-blood sugar regulation
- Carbon- an element in sugar
- Tryptophan- regulates Serotonin.
- Sulfur- assists in detoxification.
- Phosphorous- helps to produce energy.
To beat sugar cravings first drink more water, and then eat more of this:
- Fruit: natural sugar fix
Along with food replacement, you may need more sleep. In 2018, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded people who slept longer consumed less sugar. With that being said, if you have changed your eating habits, but still crave sugar, check your sleeping patterns! You may need more sleep.
When you’re craving chocolate, your body may be low in Magnesium. A study reported that nearly half of Americans lack Magnesium, which is needed for over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium also helps in relaxation, and with the amount of stress we are on today, its no wonder half of us lack this essential mineral. Although small amounts of Magnesium are found in chocolate, there are healthier alternatives:
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Dark Chocolate/ pure chocolate: includes 90% chocolate or 100% cacao. Pure chocolate contains more minerals.
Along with Magnesium, chocolate cravings could mean a lack of chromium or B vitamins.
Are you craving a big red juicy steak? Your body could be low on iron. Try eating more spinach and kale. Then, add in some vitamin C to help absorb the iron. In addition, red meat cravings could mean your low in zinc. Zinc is essential for immune functioning. If you still have cravings of red meat after satisfying this need, your body may just need more protein. Try adding some lean meats like chicken and turkey with dark greens.
Do you have a desire for potato chips? If your craving more salty foods, chances are you may be low in iron. This might explain why women during their menstrual cycle are always surrounded by junk food. Try regulating your iron intake by consuming more iron, potassium, and calcium-rich foods.
- Dark leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
Another indication of salt cravings is dehydration and lack of electrolytes. This occurs if you’re exercising at a high intensity and producing sweat. You lose the water and salt; therefore, you crave more of it. Remember to properly hydrate post-exercise, or when spending time outside on a hot day.
If you find yourself craving greasy, high-fat foods, you may be missing essential fatty acids.
If you notice, many of these foods overlap, which indicates a whole balanced diet is essential to reduce unhealthy cravings. This list is not to deter you from enjoying indulgences in moderation, but to help you eat more intuitively. It is okay to enjoy these foods periodically, but if you discover it is a regular thing, assess your diet for these missing nutrients. Your body uses food as its fuel to power your cells to run the body and prevent disease. Take care of it by feeding it the good things it needs, and assessing your daily stressors.