Cravings - What Your Body Might Be Telling You
Nutrition

Cravings - What Your Body Might Be Telling You

Posted

27 June 2015

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Need a chocolate fix? Wait just a second!  This might be what your body wants, but it might not be exactly what it needs. A food craving is that intense desire to consume something very specific.  Mostly, these are going to be foods that we feel a little bit guilty about eating; after all, if those cravings were for some raw broccoli, we’d sort them out pretty quickly, right?

The area of food cravings is complex and there is much research about the physiology and psychology behind what drives them. So, before you feed your craving, run through these simple BODY, MIND & SOUL checkpoints and see if there might be a better way to deal with things:

CHECK POINT # 1: BODY TALK

    • Are you avoiding food as part of a weight-loss diet?

In this instance, your prolonged hunger can start to create an obsession with the kind of foods that will give you an instant hit, often these will be sugary and processed.

IF YES: Diet plans like this are doomed to fail. See a regime higher in complex carbohydrates with healthy snacks that make unhealthy binges unnecessary.

    • Are your cravings rarely satisfied by the foods you choose?

Often a craving can be symptomatic of mild malnutrition. Whilst this sounds quite dramatic it actually makes a lot of sense. The foods you crave regularly will tend to be those you regularly eat. Your conscious mind unfortunately, is not a nutritionist; it will just tell you the thing that it remembers coming closest to hitting the spot.

IF YES: Think carefully whenever you find yourself reaching for something that deep down, you’d rather not eat.  Consider these basic substitutions:

CRAVING

 WHAT YOUR BODY MAY NEED

SOURCES

Sugar/Sweets

Chromium

Grapes, Cheese, Green Leafy Veg, Chicken, Fish, Oats

Chocolate

Magnesium

Avocado, Nuts & Seeds, Bananas, Dark Chocolate*

General Carbs

Tryptophan

Nuts, Seeds, Eggs, Meat, Fish, Beans, Oats and Cheese

Salty Food

Hydration, Sodium, Calcium

Water, Hemp & Chia Seeds

*As your craving is based on a source of what you need, a small chunk of dark chocolate is a much better choice and is much more likely to satisfy you.

    • Do you regularly get cravings mid afternoon?

This is very common as it’s when your energy levels are at their lowest and your cravings will be linked to a need for a pep-up.

IF YES: Be prepared, take a break, hydrate and have a healthy snack.

CHECKPOINT # 2:  MIND GAMES

    • Do you crave carbs when you are stressed or anxious?

In situations where you feel like this, it is the brain requesting a boost of serotonin; a hormone that brings with it a calming effect. Unfortunately, the boost is likely to be short-lived and will be followed by a dip.

IF YES: Be prepared for situations when you know you are likely to feel stressed and be prepared to deal with it mindfully or with healthier snack choices like nuts and seeds.

CHECKPOINT # 3:  HEART SEARCHING

    •  Do your cravings occur when you are feeling down?

Cravings mostly include foods high in fat and sugar, which cause a release of endorphins, which can give us a temporary high. Our brains will remember how this feels and send signals indicating the craving as a solution.

IF YES:  Consider the root source of your feelings. We all need a bit of nurturing from time to time. If possible, give yourself a treat, seek connection from friends and family or do some gentle exercises.

Finally, it’s worth remembering that giving in sometimes is not going to hurt. Understanding what may be going on will help us to do the right thing MOST of the time.

After all, sometimes a little bit of what we fancy will do us good.

 


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