In our diet and weight-loss crazed world, cravings have become increasingly vilified. They are seen as a weakness that must be ignored at all costs. “I. Will. Not. Eat. That. Chocolate” you heroically tell yourself as you collapse into a puddle of tears on the couch and shove another handful of kale into your mouth. In reality, cravings are often your body’s way of attempting to get a message across. They shouldn’t always be indulged; however, it can often be just as dangerous to disregard them. Here is how to decode what your cravings are really trying to tell you and a few tips to get back in touch with your food-related desires.
What your cravings really mean
Cravings usually don’t just pop up out of nowhere. Though it may seem like it when you are in the middle of your work day and suddenly want nothing more than a steaming container of McDonalds Fries, there’s usually a reason for this. Believe it or not, cravings aren’t merely your body’s underhanded method of testing your will and sabotaging your diet. They could be indicating an underlying deficiency
We’ve all been guilty of that overwhelming urge to inhale a bowl of ice cream when emotionally distraught or whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough for no other reason than to dig in with a spoon. Craving sweets, however, is often a simple sign of dehydration. As with most cravings, if you give them time to really set in and distract yourself by sipping on naturally flavored lemon water, you may notice that the craving disappears entirely.
This may also be a sign of emotional distress, as sugar is a coping mechanism for many people when dealing with stress or sadness. When you eat sugar, it releases “happy” endorphins into your body that brings a rush of relief. Unfortunately, this feeling is temporary and is the reason that many people overeat in an attempt to block pain. Try training your body to deal with stress and comfort yourself in a way that is disconnected from eating. Focus on meditation, stretching, or gentle massage.
Your cheesecake craving could also indicate blood sugar imbalances and mineral deficiencies like chromium and magnesium. If you suspect this is the case, satisfy your cravings with a moderate dose of sugar from natural sources such as fruit, raw honey, or 75% or more dark chocolate with no added sugar.
Salt is another craving that is often merely the result of dehydration. Have we told you enough times to drink more water? Because you should. When you sweat, your body releases salt which is why you may crave nothing more than a bag of chips after your hard workout. Instead of indulging, drink unflavored, pure coconut water for a natural electrolyte boost.
It is also possible that your craving for salt simply stems from a need for more salt. Novel concept, huh? Keep in mind that you receive none of the trace minerals in salt from processed salt. All that table salt does is raise your blood pressure and make you thirsty. Be sure that you are eating unrefined, real sea salt. You can also incorporate B-vitamin rich foods such as sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sea vegetables like kelp to increase your intake of these essential minerals.
Greasy, oily, fried. These words are synonymous with adult acne, diabetes, digestive issues, heart disease, and obesity. But they are also frequent blips on the craving radar. When suddenly NEED a fried chicken sandwich with a side of double fried french fries, you know something is up. This is most likely your body trying to tell you that you have an essential fatty acid deficiency. Remember: not all fat is bad fat! And when you eliminate all sources of good fat from your diet, you will begin to give into unhealthy impulses.
Incorporate healthy fat such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, coconut milk, salmon, grass-fed butter, and coconut oil into your daily diet. Avoid saturated and trans-fat sources such as packaged chips, cookies, margarine, and fried foods, as these can increase the amount of harmful cholesterol in the body and lead to severe health complications.
Listen to your body! It is on your side and knows what it needs to function. And that usually isn’t a greasy slice of pizza or can of soda. Look beyond your cravings and try to pinpoint what is missing from your diet. Soon you become more in-tune with your cravings and be on your way to a healthier life!