Food cravings don’t have to put an end to your healthy eating habits. They can be your body’s way of telling you what it’s really needing in order to function at its best. Here’s how to interpret the hidden meanings behind the most popular food cravings.
When You Are Craving…
This is the granddaddy of all cravings, and one that you don’t want to ignore. It’s not surprising that chocolate pops up as the most common craving, because it works on our endorphins and makes us feel good. It’s not such a bad thing to crave feeling good, so you don’t want to deprive yourself of chocolate long-term.
What your body really wants isMagnesium
Aside from the effect it has on the chemistry of the brain, chocolate also contains magnesium, a mineral that is vital to several functions of the body, including relaxing blood vessels and providing us with energy.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Have a serving of dark chocolate. It has the magnesium your body is asking for, without the added sugar in milk chocolate. Let’s face it, nothing satisfies a chocolate craving but chocolate, you just have to demand a better grade of chocolate. Alternative sources of magnesium if you’ve had too much chocolate recently are nuts and seeds, many types of legumes, and some fruits like bananas and avocados.
Bread shows up all over the place, as the bookends to most sandwiches, a side to soup, and the foundation for a pizza. It’s no surprise that it’s a popular craving because it’s become an ingrained habit in our modern world. But it’s been shown again and again that eating too much bread can lead to weight gain due to the toll it takes on blood sugar levels, and the high carb count.
What your body really wants isAmino Acids
Your body needs some help in the amino acid department, as it can’t make the essential amino acids it needs on its own.
Here’s how to stay healthy:Instead of bread try getting your amino acids from nuts, fish, and eggs. Or better yet, try a serving of quinoa, which contains a complete set of all essential amino acids, as well as a full serving of fiber, and an assortment of vitamins and minerals.
There are a ton of reasons why you might be craving coffee, but the most likely one is that it contains an addictive chemical in it: caffeine. If you take your coffee with plenty of sugar, you might also be craving the sugar, which we’ll cover next.
What your body really wants isEnergy
When you instinctively reach for the coffee in the morning, what you’re really in search of is energy. The problem with getting your energy from a stimulant like caffeine is eventually it wears out, and often leaves you feeling more depleted than before you consumed it. What your body needs, what it craves, is real energy from natural sources.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Try going with a smoothie in the morning rather than coffee. If you still want some caffeine to go along with it try our Green Tea Smoothie which uses a natural source of caffeine in the green tea and can help promote weight loss.
One craving that is hard to kick is a sugar craving. This is because there are so many sugar-laden temptations lurking around every corner. Many of these sweets offer nothing in the way of nutrition, and are merely a way to satisfy your sweet tooth and leave you feeling regretful after you eat them.
What your body really wants isGlucose
Your body does need some glucose to make it through the day and keep your blood sugar levels where they should be. Abstaining from all forms of sugar may not be a sustainable goal. Just be sure that along with your glucose you’re getting vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Use fruit as your source of sweet. They contain fructose as well as glucose and will provide you with antioxidants and other nutrients that makes them a satisfying snack when you’d otherwise be munching on cookies and other sweet treats.
5. Fried Foods
Craving fried foods is only natural since they tend to smell so good when you’re cooking them, and taste so good when you’re eating them. They send massive pleasure signals to the brain, which is why it sometimes seems that you can’t go too long between doses fried, fatty foods.
What your body really wants isHealthy Fat
If you’ve been on a mission to cut fat out of your diet, it’s time to bring back the healthy fat that’s actually helping you feel full and lose excess fat from your body.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Be sure you’re getting a supply of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in your diet. Great sources are avocados, which also provide minerals and fiber, as well as nuts like almonds and cashews. If you do fry foods, try frying them up in coconut oil for a rich, buttery taste and even more healthy fat.
Alcohol is an addictive substance, so it’s no shock that your body is requesting it again. The main problem with alcohol is the direct effect it has on the liver, and the trickle down effect from having a liver that isn’t functioning at its best.
What your body really wants isMinerals
It may sound strange, since too much alcohol will actually sap your body of minerals, but that’s what it’s craving when you’re in search of a cocktail. Potassium and calcium are two of these minerals, and you could also be in need of a protein boost.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Order a virgin drink and you’ll get all of the flavor without the alcohol. Many mixed drinks will contain juices with Vitamin C so you can still have fun without doing damage to your body. If you’re expecting a big night out, be sure to top up on your vitamins and minerals to minimize the toll it will take on your nutrient levels.
7. Fizzy Drinks
Sometimes a nice effervescent beverage is what you crave, but did you ever stop to wonder why? Aside from the novelty, there could be a deeper meaning behind this craving.
What your body really wants isHydration
It could be that you’ve associated the fuzzy feeling on your lips with fluid intake, and your body is drawn to these beverages because it is seeking hydration. But these drinks are usually full of sugar, caffeine, and other chemicals, and can have a dehydrating effect.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Opt for mineral water instead, as it contains minerals that can help you instead of acting to deplete the minerals you have. Better yet, simply drinks distilled or spring water when you find yourself craving a soda or cola. If the desire is still there hours later then you know it’s not due to dehydration and you might want to let yourself satisfy the craving once in awhile.
8. Salty Snacks
Walk down the snack aisle of any grocery store in America and you’ll see the predominant features is they all contain salt. Salt reigns supreme in the world of snacking, and there’s no doubt about why it shows up in just about every snacking staple
What your body really wants isSodium
Even the Mayo Clinic advises thatyour body needs sodium, but you’ll want to make sure that it comes from the right sources, not from table salt or the industrial-grade salt they use in snacks. This form of salt leads to fluid retention, which can increase your overall body weight as well as your blood pressure.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Go with Himalayan pink salt or sea salt as natural sources of sodium that will actually help your body by regulating your fluids, rather than hinder it the way excessive table salt can. If you’ve recently indulged in a salty snack or meal be sure to get some exercise so you can help sweat out the excess sodium.
9. Fast Food
We’ve quickly turned into a fast food nation, and you can’t drive a few miles in most populated areas without passing a fast food restaurant of some sort. Often all it takes is seeing a familiar logo to trigger a craving for your favorite combo.
What your body really wants isA Balanced, Satisfying Meal
Most fast food restaurants will group their offerings into “meal deals” which strikes a chord with your body, since what it really wants is to feel satisfied after a meal.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Of course it’s better to make your own meals than to eat fast food, and what you’ll want to focus on if you’re trying to kick the fast food habit is the feeling of satiety after a meal. To do this make sure you are eating balanced meals with a lean protein, a non-starchy carb, and healthy fats.
Pizza has a special place in the American Diet, and is one of the most commonly ordered items. The combination of a carb-laden crust, melty cheese, and toppings customized to your personal tastes makes it hard to pass up. But what is the real foundation behind that pizza craving?
What your body really wants isFatty Acids
Pizza is ultimately a fatty food, and if you’ve noticed that you have had a hankering for fatty foods as of late it could mean that you are running low on important fatty acids, and your body is trying to make amends.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Make sure you are getting enough fatty acids from healthy foods like salmon, flax seeds, and walnuts, and see if that doesn’t put a dent in your pizza cravings. The occasional pizza order will not set you back too far, as long as you keep your portions in check, so just make sure that you are not eating it as a way to compensate for fatty acid intake.
Cheese pops up as a craving when you’re trying to lose weight, and is often the undoing of well-meaning dieters. But why is it so hard to resist cheese, and why does it show up on the Do Not Eat list of so many diet programs?
What your body really wants isCalories
Cheese is high in calories, and even a one ounce serving gives you about 100 calories. If you’ve been following a calorie-restricted diet you may have noticed that your desire for cheese has been on the rise because your body knows it will quickly make up the deficit.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Make sure that you are still getting enough calories to make it through the day without intense cravings. Eat foods that contain healthy levels of calories and also provide you with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that will keep the cheese cravings at bay.
12. Acidic Foods
Acid-forming foods come in all different forms, and sometimes just because a food tastes acidic doesn’t mean that it is. A sampling of acidic foods includes corn, wheat, cranberries, butter, bacon, and more. Lemons and limes are actually alkalizing when consumed.
What your body really wants isMagnesium
Magnesium is a very important mineral, one that can help keep you calm under stress, help you sleep at night, and generally improve your quality of life. If you start running low your body will attempt to compensate by seeking out acidic foods in hopes of getting your magnesium levels up.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Get a good supply of magnesium-rich foods and you’ll notice that your desire for acidic foods will wane. You can also boost your intake ofalkaline foods to help keep your body alkaline. The good news is that many foods high in magnesium are also alkaline.
13. Soups and Liquid Foods
Have you noticed that you’ve been seeking out soups, shakes, smoothies, and other liquid forms of food instead of solids? Your body could be trying to tell you something.
What your body really wants isWater
Try getting your water intake up and see if that curbs your craving for liquid foods. The body only has a few signals to tell your brain what it wants, and wanting to drink your food is one way that it’s saying you should drink more water. It’s easy to fall behind on water intake, and to develop the routine of not getting enough during the day.
Here’s how to stay healthy:Getting enough water can be a hard habit to start. Work your way up to it gradually rather than overnight. Drink half of your body weight in ounces as an ideal.
14. Cold Foods
Eating cold food can slow down your digestion, so you don’t want to do that unless it’s summertime, and your body is trying to keep its cool. Medicine Plus shows that heat emergencies can arise when temperatures and humidity levels climb too high, so you have to be aware of what that’s doing to your body and any cravings you might be having.
What your body really wants isTo Cool Down
If your body is running too hot it’s going to want to cool itself down quickly, and the best answer to that is with cold foods. But you’ll want to make sure that it’s not a case of dehydration and that you’re not using food to make up for a lack of water.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Keep cool on the inside and out, and if you know you’re going to be in the sun and working up a sweat you’ll want to take extra steps to maintain proper hydration levels.
15. More and More Food
Overeating has almost become an American pastime, but it’s one of the worst things you can do for you health and wellness. The dangerous aspect of overeating is that it tends to form a habit, and you may develop
What your body really wants isWell-Balanced, Portioned Meals
When a meal is lopsided, whether with too many carbs or too much protein, the natural instinct is to eat more of it to make up for the imbalance. Turn your attention to the ratio of carbs and protein in your meals, and see how this has a direct effect on how you feel after eating a reasonable portion for your body size.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Avoid putting yourself in a situation where the food quantities are endless, or where you’re expected to eat more than a plate’s worth of food. Stick to what’s on your plate and give your stomach time to tell your brain you’re full.
Carbohydrate cravings are one of the most popular cravings for those trying to lose weight by watching their carb intake. It’s no surprise that you’re craving the thing that you’re abstaining from, especially if you used to eat plenty of foods that were high in carbohydrates.
What your body really wants isVitamins and Minerals
Going low or no-carb could leave you deficient in important vitamins and minerals found in fruit and other sources of food that have been labeled “carb heavy”. If you’ve taken on a carb restricted diet you could be doing yourself a disservice and limiting your intake of important nutrients, causing carb cravings.
Here’s how to stay healthy:Choose the right sources of carbohydrates, the ones that give you the most nutritional bang for the carbs you’re taking in. All carbs are not the enemy, just the ones that don’t provide much in the way of nutrients for all of the carbohydrates they contain.
If you find yourself craving protein you’ll definitely want to take notice, because you need enough of it in order for your body to carry out basic functions with its various systems. Starve yourself of protein long enough and you’ll start to seenegative side effects, according to John Douillard of LifeSpa.
What your body really wants isProtein
This one is an easy one, if you’re body is asking for more protein there isn’t anything else you can give it but the protein it needs. Perhaps you’ve taken in too many carbs and your craving is a way for the body to tell you to balance things out a bit with a serving of protein.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Even though you may be craving fatty protein sources, you’ll want to make sure that you’re eating high-quality, lean protein that’s preferably organic. That piece of fried chicken might be what you’re craving, but you’d be better served, nutritionally speaking, with a grilled chicken breast.
18. Nothing At All
If your appetite has gone away and you’re not craving anything at all, you might think that it’s because you’re totally satisfied. But it could be that you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals, so it’s important to assess why you’re not in the mood for food anymore.
What your body really wants isZinc
One mineral in particular that could be causing your lack of appetite is Zinc. This is an important mineral that affects your taste buds, and is one that your body needs daily. Run a shortage for long and you’ll find it hard to work up a taste for anything, since your ability to taste the food has weakened.
Here’s how to stay healthy: Check out this list of foods high in Zinc, and also be sure to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes to cover all of your nutritional bases. This should be done over a series of days, and you should see your appetite return to normal. If your lack of appetite is persistent check with your doctor to uncover potential causes.
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Toni Sweeney is a Triple Certified Ketogenic Diet and Primal Health Coach and weight loss expert who personally lost 80 pounds while making a total lifestyle change. The founder of TS Transformations, her formulas and plans has helped thousands of women lose weight and keep it off forever.