Food Cravings

Are you a salt or a sugar craver?

These food cravings are intense and can make the craver go out of their way to get them.  They are quite different from normal hunger.  They are coming to us from our brains rather than our stomachs.  They hit us all in different ways.  For example pregnant women have been known to crave dill pickles and ice cream.  Sometimes vegans crave meat even though they don’t eat meat in their diets.  The examples of food cravings are many.

Why do we crave these (usually bad for us) fatty foods, carbohydrates, and salty and sugary snacks?  There’s a valid reason.

These cravings could be a result of your body needing nutrients.   There could be a deficiency in your body.   We don’t think twice on WHY we are craving something.  We just fill the void by grabbing a bag of chips or a chocolate bar or cookie.

Cravings can be brought on by both physical and mental conditions.  I find when I’m physically tired I crave carbohydrates and when I’m mentally tired I crave sweets.  If I’m sad I tend to gravitate towards “comfort foods”.   When you think about it….only the first bite of these specific “food cravings” taste the best.

Next time you get this hankering for something sinful try to smooth over the craving with some deep breathing, meditation, a walk outdoors or a little yoga.  Hopefully taking a “time out” from your craving with these simple diversions should short circuit your brains message about that craving.

If your body is deficient in something the cravings can come to the forefront of your mind.  For example;

  •   craving dairy products could mean you are deficient in calcium or essential fatty acids.  This would cause you to reach for the high saturated comfort foods like “cheese”.  But instead of high fat dairy reach for omega 3 rich foods like walnuts, leafy greens, pumpkin seeds etc.
  • If your are craving “chocolate”, which I often do, it could be that you are deficient in magnesium which can be resolved by reaching for whole grains, fresh fruit and nuts.  An apple with a few almonds would work like a charm.
  • Carbonated beverages such as soda pop could mean you are deficient in calcium.  Try some leafy greens and cut out caffeine to help resolve this craving.
  • Some people like to eat ice.  I know a few people who eat ice cubes.  Apparently this is a sign of low iron.  A good resolution to this craving would be beans, red meat, prunes, cherries and leafy greens.
  • If you are always reaching for ice cream, is this a habit or is it a craving.  If it’s a craving it could mean you are deficient in fat.  Reach for frozen yogurt instead of ice cream.
  • A craving for lemons and citrus could mean you need more vitamin C.  Snack on an orange.
  • Pasta and rice cravings could mean a deficiency in Chromium.   Go for fruit and veggies instead.
  • A red meat craving could indicate an iron deficiency.
  • I’m a salt craver, and experts say that is possibly a deficiency in chloride and healthy fats.  In my case I think wanting salty foods is a result of low cortisol levels in my adrenal glands.  Instead of chips or popcorn eat a few olives, celery, kelp or use Himalayan salt (which I do use)
  • A big craving for most people is sugar.  We are wired to crave sweetness.

If you are craving sugary snacks then reach for a cold crisp apple or juicy peach.  Grapes are quite sweet and will certainly work to ease your cravings.  I put seedless red grapes in the freezer and then eat them frozen.  They are sweet and being frozen they are like eating a sweet popsicle or frozen dessert.  They are low in calories and full of nutrients and fill that sugary void.     Some other sugary snacks would be plain yogurt with raw honey and fruit mixed together.  You could add some nuts or seeds to that too.

If you are craving salt, it could be that mineral imbalance mentioned above or you are just habitually after that salty flavor on your tongue. I know myself, that I crave salty foods when I’m tired.  I reach for the salty carbohydrates like popcorn or the odd potato chip.   There’s nothing quite like a salty snack with “crunch appeal”.

Many people like to finish off their meals with a sugary dessert.  This could be because it’s just become a habit or more seriously it could mean low blood sugar.  Why not finish your meal with a piece of fruit.  It will cleanse the palate of the dinner you ate and stave off that craving for sugar.  It’s so much better for you in every way.

Next time you are craving between meals, make a mental note of what you are craving and why.  Is it habit or is it your body crying for a nutrient.

Next time you are craving between meals, go for a walk, do the “downward dog” yoga pose or take a series of 6 deep breaths. Hopefully the craving will disappear before you sabotage your healthy lifestyle with unhealthy food choices.

Darn those cravings….


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