Cravings frequently signal a need for specific nutrients. Generally, if you are consuming whole food meals that contain vegetables, protein, and healthy fats, then cravings are usually kept at bay.
Besides eating well balanced, nutrient-dense meals, here are more ways to combat cravings:
• Drink more water! Sometimes we mistaken thirst for hunger.
• Don’t skip breakfast! Start your morning with protein and fat to stabilize blood sugar levels
• Consume fibre, protein, and good fat at every meal
• Notice if your meal contains all ‘6 tastes’ to keep you satisfied
• Be prepared. Always have healthy snacks on hand in between meals
• Use spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg to enhance the flavour of your food and balance blood sugar levels
• Steer clear of tip toeing into the vicious carb/sugar vortex in the first place by avoiding white, refined food like pastas, breads, and white rice because they will cause a quick spike in blood sugar, leading you to crave sweets and more refined foods!
COMMON CRAVINGS AND WHAT THEY MEAN
Here are some cravings I hear most often from my clients and the foods I suggest they combat them with:
Craving chocolate? This can be a deficiency of magnesium, b-vitamins, chromium, and/or essential fatty acids
Troubleshoot it with: dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, mackerel, beans, lentils, brown rice, avocado, or make a Creamy Chocolate Banana Smoothie: 2 tsp raw cacao, 1 cup almond milk, ¼ avocado, 1 small ripe banana, 1 tsp almond butter, 1 pitted medjool date
Craving salty foods? It could be an indication you have a mineral imbalance and that you actually are lacking in enough sodium. Also you are not hydrating enough!
Troubleshoot it with: sea vegetables like nori, kelp, dulse. I sneak 1 tsp of this into my smoothies. Stay away from table salt which is stripped away of its minerals, instead sprinkle celtic sea salt, himalayan pink salt at every meal. And get in some of that good ol’ H2O!
Craving bread? It could mean you are not getting enough amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. One amino acid in particular,tryptophan, is needed to synthesize the mood-regulating brain chemical (serotonin) that can be lacking in the diet.
Troubleshoot it by: upping your protein, consuming quinoa, nuts, fish, and tryptophan containing foods like turkey, eggs, cashews, walnuts, and bananas.
Craving sugar? Your body really wants glucose.
Your body needs some glucose to keep your blood sugar levels stable.
Troubleshoot it with: fruits like apples, pears, berries, and starchy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, squash, plantains, grains, legumes
Craving pizza, cheese and fried foods? You are probably not consuming enough healthy fats.
We need fat! It helps fuel our brain to keep us sharp and focused, and improves our mood! It’s also needed to boost immunity, and send signals to our glands to produce hormones. Also, consumption of fat during a meal actually helps you feel full since it’s slow to digest. Another bonus? Eating fat actually helps you lose excess fat from your body!
Troubleshoot it with: avocados, coconut oil, ghee, butter, almonds, walnuts, olive oil, salmon, flax seeds. NOTE: Craving cheese is also a sign of calcium or vitamin D deficiency - load up on leafy greens and un-hulled sesame seeds, fish, and eggs
Craving Coffee? You’re body is just looking for energy!
Besides the fact that coffee contains an addictive chemical in it (caffeine), take notice that maybe it’s the sugar you are craving that you put into it. Regardless if you enjoy it black or not, your body is looking for energy. But since coffee is a stimulant, it ends up depleting some of your body’s mineral stores, making you end up feeling worn out later on in the day.
Troubleshoot it by: opting for a green smoothie, green tea, raw honey or stevia sweetened matcha latte, or fresh green juice instead.
Sometimes, cravings can be related to an emotional need. Sadness, boredom, stress, poor self-esteem, negative body image (and the list goes on) may trigger the desire to fill a void using food. I know it’s tempting to want to dive into a box of cookies after a long, stressful day. But since food cravings are often fleeting and disappear within an hour, those times when we are emotionally sensitive are actually the times when our bodies need to be most properly nourished in order to lift our spirits up and boost our mood! Choose healthier options that give you enough satisfaction in the moment while the craving passes.
If cravings are very strong no matter what you have tried to do, you might want to consider consulting with a healthcare practitioner to investigate chronic symptoms. For example, you might do this through your ND (Naturopathic Doctor). They have access to a variety of unique tests and can be a great guide to support and ask for other tests, that are covered, from your doctor. There are specialized food and environmental allergy testing businesses that provide useful answers as well.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle should never be stressful. If you are looking for more guidance with tweaking your diet for optimal health in order to reach your fitness goals, I can help you take the guess work out of it all and help you transition smoothly. Book a nutritional consultation with In-House Holistic Nutritionist, Maya Eid to get started!