Food Cravings and What they Mean
Is your body telling you what it needs?
Dehydration and Malnutrition
Many times food cravings are nature’s way of telling us we need something for our bodies. Some studies have estimated that 80% of us are chronically dehydrated. We also know that many obese people are actually malnourished (despite the number of calories consumed).
Surveys estimate that almost 100% of young women and nearly 70% of young men had food cravings during the past year
If you are dieting, try to keep cravings under control by hydrating and meditating to lower stress. You may also be able to substitute healthy foods to satisfy that craving instead of a high calorie, high sugar or high fat option.
If you are craving…
Sugar – Your body is looking for a boost of energy. Unfortunately, sugary and high carb snacks result in a short term boost of energy followed by a crash resulting in a viscous cycle. Instead of reaching for that candy bar or bag of chips, try eating some fruits combined with a protein. Easy snacks can be raw nuts (almonds cashews walnuts etc.) fruit and cheese, apples and nut butter (peanut, almond cashew etc.) or a smoothie with a cup of low sugar protein powder. These healthy options will give your body the pick me up it needs without the yoyo effects of sugar and simple carbs.
Chocolate – You may be lacking magnesium found in raw nuts, beans and fruit. But why deny yourself the anti-oxidant benefits of a couple of squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or more)? This version of chocolate is relativity low in calories and fat and so very, deeply satisfying.
Salty – Cravings for salty foods often mean stress may be taking a toll on your adrenal glands, which give us energy and help us to cope with stress. Under stress, your adrenal glands release cortisol. Spikes in cortisol levels often lead to sugar cravings. The hallmark of an overworked adrenal gland is the late afternoon craving for high-fat, simple-carb foods that your body can quickly use for fuel.
Instead, try meditation, breathing exercises, or other stress-management techniques. Nutritionally, try to eat foods rich in minerals such as fruits and vegetables. Switch the salt you use. Most types of salt you buy in the grocery store remove the naturally occurring minerals during processing. Look for a minimally processed salt that preserves its minerals. Salts that still contain minerals will have a color to them such as red or gray. These minimally processed salts are healthier alternatives to their white colored counterparts. Additionally, the minerals contained within them further enhance the flavor of food compared to conventional salt.
Red Meat – Iron. Raw, dark, leafy greens are a good substitute, maybe with a touch of olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar. If you are not a vegetarian, the benefits of lean red meat (about 6 oz. no more than 3 times per week) may help maintain a good balanced diet.
Cheese – Calcium, Fatty Acids. Try some Greek yogurt or a slice of minimally processed cheese such as feta.