Do you ever find yourself overcome by food cravings so strong your willpower goes out the window?
Like when you’re on the road and all of a sudden you need something crunchy and salty. Or when you’re relaxing comfortably on your couch and you get this crazy urge to raid your cabinet for any chocolate you can find.
It’s like your stomach has a mind of its own. And it can be pretty darn inconvenient, especially when you’re trying to eat healthily.
But if you find yourself craving certain foods over and over again, it’s actually more than just inconvenient. It’s a sign of what’s really going on with your health…
When you can’t say no to dessert…
If you feel like sucking down sweets like there’s no tomorrow, it means your blood sugar is out of whack. When you eat a healthy, balanced diet your blood sugar stays pretty stable. But if you’re eating a high-carb, high-sugar diet, your blood sugar goes up and down like a rollercoaster. And when you hit a blood sugar low, your body craves more sugar. It’s kind of like being a drug addict. When you’re coming down from a sugar high, you want more of your drug of choice.
Now you don’t want to let your blood sugar go crazy like this for too long — that’s how you end up with type 2 diabetes. So the next time your sweet tooth flares up, satisfy it with a sweet fruit like blueberries, strawberries or an apple. They’ll give you the sugar your body craves with a lot more health benefits than a bowl of ice cream. You can also try exercising to kick your sugar craving. Sugar gives your body a high, but so does exercising. So it might be a healthy way of tricking your body into thinking it’s getting what it wants.
When you’re feeling salty…
Reaching for salty snack foods like potato chips and pretzels is a good sign that you’re low in iron. So eating healthier, iron-rich foods (like grass-fed beef, poultry, seafood, beans and leafy greens) instead of snack foods is the best solution. It’s also pretty common to crave salty snack foods after working out or sweating a lot. That’s because when you sweat, you lose sodium. This causes your body to crave more because it wants to replace what it’s lost.
When you’re a chocoholic…
There are pretty much three reasons you might be craving chocolate: stress, magnesium deficiency or B-vitamin deficiency. But no matter which one is the culprit, you want to take care of it right away. If you’re stressed, find other ways to cope instead of food — like yoga, meditation or massage. If you’re low in magnesium, eat foods like nuts, seeds, fish, yogurt, avocados and dark leafy greens. Or if B-vitamins are the problem, try fish, poultry, eggs or grass-fed dairy. And if you do succumb to a chocolate craving, stick to the dark stuff — 70 percent cocoa or higher.
When you want some fatty fast food…
If you’re craving greasy, fatty foods it could because you’re stressed out. Or it could also because your body is in need of some healthy fats, like omega-3s. So next time you get the urge to order a bag of greasy fries in the nearest drive-thru, try reaching for a bag of walnuts or salmon jerky instead.
And remember, when you try everything to curb unhealthy food cravings but you don’t succeed, drink more water. Dehydration can make you feel hungry even when you’re not.
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- “What do my cravings say about my health?” Texas A&M University. ScienceDaily. https://www.sciencedaily.com. Retrieved June 16, 2016.