How To Fight These Six Food Cravings

An irresistible sweet treat or savoury snacking after a stressful day might be the body’s way of telling us something.

There are reasons that the body craves particular foods, but we sometimes cannot figure out exactly what they are.

Our body sends different signals to the brain and sometimes the result is simply that we crave snack foods that are bad for us.

1. Desiring sweets

If you reach for a sweet snack, this can be due to blood sugar level fluctuation.

Taylor Newhouse, a registered dietitian with the Texas A&M School of Public Health, explains:

“As blood glucose (blood sugar) levels change throughout the day, the body tries to keep these levels stable.

Still, this is counterproductive; consuming sugary foods will only feed this addiction and result in more cravings.”

The feeling of happiness and comfort after consuming sweets or sugary foods or drinks is due to the fact that sugar releases endorphins in the body.

The outcome of the ‘sugar high’ is overeating of high carbohydrate foods.

Ms Newhouse says:

“We tend to overconsume carbohydrates because they’re easily digestible and give us the same boost as sugar.

It’s imperative we learn to replace that ‘high’ with a healthy activity we enjoy, like exercising.”

However, if you are trying to kick your cravings, then moderate exercise is preferable to intense exercise.

With intense training, carbohydrate and energy levels are depleted rapidly.

No wonder that after a heavy work out, on the way home, all of a sudden you fancy a burger.

Ms Newhouse says:

“Incorporating more sweet fruits like berries or apples into your diet, along with dark leafy greens like broccoli or kale — which are high in calcium — will help to reduce the need to hit the company vending machine during the day.”

2. Escape chocolate bars when you are hungry 

Eating chocolate under stress can be automatic and it also generates the need for more chocolate.

Chocolate can increase brain serotonin levels which creates the feeling of pleasure and happiness.

This explains that why we can be easily ‘addicted’ to sugar or chocolate.

Craving chocolate can be due to hormonal changes in women, shortage in B vitamins or magnesium deficiency (chocolate is rich in this mineral).

Ms Newhouse says:

“It’s okay to have a little chocolate to subdue cravings.

But, you should also supplement with healthier options like mixed nuts, a banana, or, sauté greens like spinach with lemon, olive oil, garlic and rosemary for a sweeter flavor.”

3. What about fries and fast foods?

Indulging or craving fries and binging on fattier foods when bored and stressed could possibly be telling us that our body is craving fat — but remember that not all fats are equal.

If you don’t consume enough oily fish, it may be that the body needs essential fatty acids, as Ms Newhouse advises:

“This could mean you’re deficient in essential fatty acids like omega-3s.

Our bodies do not naturally make omega-3s, but you can supplement them or cook with oils like canola oil, extra virgin olive oil or hemp oil to up your intake.”

There are also other type of foods, such as nuts and avocados, that are high in ‘good’ fats.

4. Craving for salt

Sudden strong desire for crisps, chips, pretzels or salty foods might be related to iron deficiency.

Ms Newhouse says:

“When we crave salty things, it’s a signal to consume foods with more iron.”

Increasing the level of iron intake (in the case of iron deficiency) can help to combat salty snack cravings.

Another idea is to drink a glass of milk, eat yogurt or dark leafy green salad.

Also, during  a workout or intense exercise we tend to lose electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium with sweat.

Sweet potatoes, avocado, spinach, bananas and yogurt are rich in potassium.

Celery, carrots, spinach, beets, meat and seafood are a neutral source of sodium and nutritious.

Dark leafy greens such spinach and kale, nuts and seeds, avocado, fish, bananas and dried fruits are high in magnesium.

5. Rehydration

Sometimes cravings can be managed by just drinking a glass of water.

Ms Newhouse says:

“We often misinterpret the signals our body is giving us.

As a society, we are chronically dehydrated (Just so you know: thirst is actually the last resort signal for dehydration).

The next time you reach for something sweet or salty try quelling the craving with a tall glass of water.

You may be surprised at the result.”

6. Indulging in fresh foods and vegetables

Cravings for vegetables such as kale or broccoli may be a signal that the body lacks vitamin C, iron, calcium or magnesium.

Ms Newhouse says:

“If you begin to crave fruits and vegetables, then indulge away!”

Craving for a healthy  diet!

Craving a food and indulging in moderation is not strange but the important thing is a balanced diet.

Ms Newhouse advises:

“Think about the last time you consumed foods in every single color.

If you can’t remember the last time you ate a tomato or berries, try snacking on those.”

 Craving image from Shutterstock