Cravings. Those annoying things that sneak up on you when you're trying to eat healthily. They're like a little devil on your shoulder telling you to eat all those foods that you really shouldn't. Sweets, fried foods, pastries- you can guarantee at some time you've craved those foods so badly you couldn't think of anything else.
It may come as a surprise that cravings don't necessarily have to be a bad thing, they could be telling you that your body actually craves nutrients, not the junk food you think you need.
Here is what your body really wants when you have certain cravings.
Chocolate is probably the biggest Achilles heel in the junk food world. I don't mean the rich, good quality dark chocolate I've discussed previously that can actually be good for you, I'm talking about chocolate that contains large amounts of sugar, oils and milk.
What your body really wants when you crave chocolate is Magnesium. Magnesium provides us with energy and performs many other vital functions in our bodies. If chocolate really is your heart's desire, a few blocks of good quality dark chocolate will satisfy your cravings. If you'd rather avoid it altogether, magnesium can be found in raw nuts, seeds and legumes.
It is no surprise that we crave greasy friend foods. I challenge anyone to walk past a KFC or McDonalds without their mouth watering because they've caught a whiff of fries, and don't get me started on donuts.
When I talk about fried foods I'm referring to foods dripping with vegetable oil, not those lightly fried in olive or coconut oil. It's common knowledge that eating an abundance of these foods is putting your health at serious risk.
When you crave these foods what your body is really crying out for is calcium and healthy fats. Great sources of calcium are cheese, sesame, legumes, broccoli and kale. Healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can be found in foods such as avocados, fatty fish, walnuts and eggs.
Alcohol cravings are usually a result of our moods, so it may be a good idea to reflect on how you feel if you often find yourself unable to stop thinking about having an alcoholic drink. I love a glass of wine as much as the next person, but it should always be in moderation since alcohol is dangerously addictive.
If you're feeling stressed, it may be that your body needs a boost of feel good hormones (dopamine). Foods such as bananas, almonds, avocados and beets are fantastic for enhancing dopamine. Exercise is also a healthy way to get the feel good hormones flowing.
I often find myself wondering how something so beautiful could be so evil. The smell of freshly baked bread is the most amazing smell in the world (aside from a new book). Whether it's a toastie we're craving or just a thick slice of soft, fluffy white bread with a layer of butter spread on it, bread can cause some serious cravings.
Like many, bread was a staple of my diet growing up and once I decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle, it was the first thing I excluded from my diet. Within a few days the uncomfortable, bloated state I had gotten used to had gone away.
Bread cravings could really be a nitrogen deficiency. Good sources of this nutrient can be found in meat, fish, eggs, milk and beans.
One of my vices is crisps. I'd be lying if I said Doritos and Pringles weren't a weakness of mine. Whether it's crisps, popcorn or peanuts, salty snacks are a very common food to crave.
Cravings for salty snacks is your body asking for chloride. It can also be an indication that your stress hormones are fluctuating. It's no coincidence that salty snacks are a popular choice when we need comforting.
To give your body the chloride it's really craving, eat foods such as celery, sea salt, olives and tomatoes. If you're feeling stressed, instead of reaching for crisps take 10 minutes to meditate or run yourself a hot bubble bath and relax.
The majority of us can't function in the mornings without coffee. Even when we need perking up during the day, coffee is always there to keep us going.
This common craving could indicate that you're deficient in iron. It could also mean that you're dehydrated, which is no surprise since dehydration also causes fatigue.
Although coffee does do the job when you need a pick-me-up, it only masks an existing problem. Make sure you are hydrating with water throughout the day and to keep iron levels normal eat red meat, spinach, beans and dried fruits such as raisins and apricots.
Many of us are beaten by our cravings because we're not aware that our bodies are actually crying out for nutrients. We generally believe that we need these junk foods because our bodies seem to be telling us we need them. It can really set us back when we give in to our cravings and it leads to this vicious circle of failing, feeling depressed, and just continually giving into junk food. Staying on track can be as easy as recognising what our bodies really need and fuelling them with the correct nutrients.
What cravings do you find it really hard to ignore?
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