Top Reasons Behind Your Food Cravings (And What To Do)
Written by: Kat Gal
What is your favorite snack?
No, don’t say broccoli or raw crackers. I am asking about that snack that you seem to be craving all the time or the one that you can’t stop eating when you get your hands on it.
Don’t be shy; we all have our secret cravings and temptations for unhealthy foods. There is a reason behind it too.
Your cravings are not there to simply tick you off. They are very smart messengers that are able to show you what you are missing from your diet.
If you pay attention to them, you can adjust your diet accordingly, meet your nutritional needs and stop cravings once and for all.
Here Are The Reasons Behind Your Top 5 Cravings
If you are crazy about chocolate, constantly craving it and can’t stop having it, it may be due to a magnesium deficiency. Another reason may be an antioxidant deficit.
Magnesium is essential to your body. It helps your muscles to relax, calms your mind, keeps your blood sugar balanced, boosts your immune system and even elevates your serotonin levels. Antioxidants keep your body healthy and fight free-radical damage.
If you must eat chocolate, go for dark varieties with a minimum of 75% cocoa. Better yet, select dark chocolate varieties made with raw cacao that is actually healthy for you (in moderation, of course). Dark and raw chocolate is lower in processed sugar and higher in antioxidants than milk or white chocolate.
To add more magnesium to your diet, eat more leafy greens, nuts and seeds. For more antioxidants, beets, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and dark vegetables are excellent choices.
2. Salty Chips
Some people crave sweets, others crave salty foods – and there are those who crave both. Which one are you?
If you are craving salty chips or other salty snacks or salted foods, it may mean that your adrenal glands are overtaxed and your cortisol levels are too high.
To keep your adrenals going, your body is asking for more sodium, hence why you may be craving salty foods all the time. To lower your cortisol levels and to balance your adrenals, try to lower your stress levels through relaxing practices like meditation, yoga, journaling and a healthy amount of sleep. To meet your sodium needs from whole foods, turn to seaweed, artichokes, celery and dulse instead of packaged foods.
Some argue that coffee in small amounts is healthy for you, but no doubt it is addictive. If you crave and need coffee all the time and are drinking several cups a day, your body is telling you something. Your body may be running low on iron.
Iron is really important because it brings oxygen to your cells, therefore keeping you energized and strong. To increase your iron stores, you should increase your leafy greens (like kale and collard leaves), nuts and seeds (such as pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and pistachio), pseudograins (like quinoa, legumes, lentil and tempeh) and – if you are not a vegetarian – your red meat intake.
Supplements can also help you boost your iron intake, but make sure that you get a blood test and consult a doctor before doing so.
4. High-Sugar Foods
If you are a sugar addict and even if you are just looking for an afternoon sugar-fix every day, it is possible that a number of nutrients are missing from your diet. Sugar cravings can be a sign of low chromium levels, which is a mineral that helps to control your blood sugar levels.
You can meet your chromium needs by eating more broccoli, green beans, quinoa, rice and nuts. Since sugar cravings occur when you are hungry, make sure to eat balanced meals regularly and don’t skip them.
Soda is not only a sign of a sugar craving, but also a craving for the fizz.
If you are looking for some fizz in your drink, choose sparkling carbonated or mineral water instead. For flavor, add some lemon juice or mint to your drink, or make vitamin water by adding fruits and/or vegetables.
If it is caffeine that you are craving, refer to the section on coffee. If it is the sugar you are missing, the section above discusses sugar cravings. If you are simply thirsty, drink a glass of water.
What Else Can You Do To Get Rid Of Cravings?
Generally speaking, it is necessary to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet without skipping meals or trying to limit your calories below the recommended needs. Try to stay away from packaged and processed foods. Turn to plant-based whole foods instead with plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains and legumes. Make sure to eat regularly, exercise 20-30 minutes a day minimum and sleep 8 hours a day at least.
Cravings can be psychological and emotional as well. Ask yourself why are you looking for foods: Are you tired? Are you bored? Are you angry or sad?
- If you are tired, take a nap, engage in relaxing activities, or meditate. Make sure to get enough sleep on a regular basis.
- If you are bored, look for something that will entertain your creative or intellectual needs. There is so much to do: read, go for a walk, color, make art, call a friend, journal, or watch some motivational videos.
- If you are angry or sad, first allow yourself to feel your feelings instead of numbing them. It is okay to feel down. Find a positive way to release your anger or sadness. Journaling, meditation, dancing, exercise and making art are just some ideas you can try.
On Seeking Professional Help
To find out your specific potential nutritional deficits that you are dealing with, a blood test is an excellent idea to point you in the right direction.
If you believe that you may need some help and guidance, it is an excellent idea to work with a health coach or nutritionist.
If you may have more serious underlying issues or are dealing with an eating disorder, it is the best to seek help from a therapist, counselor, or other specialist.
What kind of cravings are you dealing with? What have your learned from this article that will help you tackle these cravings? Let us know in the comments below, we love to hear from you!
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a full-time freelance health & wellness writer, content creator, and also a Certified Holistic Health & Life Coach.
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