Have you ever had a food craving so strong, you swore you’d die if you didn’t get to eat that food?
Of course you have.
We all have.
Food cravings are not uncommon. In fact, according to this WebMD article, “…almost 100% of young women and nearly 70% of young men had food cravings.”1 But food cravings are usually about more than just food. Your cravings may actually be trying to tell you are lacking in something, whether it’s a certain vitamin, mineral, or even water.
What Your Cravings Are Telling You…
If you crave chocolate, you may need magnesium…
Magnesium is a mineral that keeps your body working properly and is present in over 300 chemical reactions in your body. Try reaching for some nuts, leafy greens, seeds, or fish instead of chocolate.
If you crave something sweet, you could be dehydrated…
So reach for some water first!
If you still feel a strong craving for something sweet, reach for a piece of fruit. Sweet cravings could also signal that you are lacking sulphur, carbon, or chromium. Try increasing your intake of foods such as chicken, nuts, raw grass-fed cheese, or broccoli.
If you crave caffeine, you may need more iron…
Individuals who suffer from low iron levels, or anaemia, are often fatigued.2 Try adding more iron rich foods such as leafy greens, chicken, eggs, or turkey to your diet.
If you crave red meat, you may be low in iron…
Like caffeine, a craving for red meat may signal that you are low in iron. However, the craving for protein could simply mean you need more protein.
If you crave something salty, you may be lacking in trace minerals…
It seems you are tardy getting enough salt in your diet, try switching from table salt to sea salt. Sea salt isn’t processed like table salt and contains more minerals.3
If you crave carbonated drinks, you could be lacking calcium…
If you are primal, increase your dairy intake. If you are strictly Paleo, add some calcium into your diet in the form of canned salmon, sardines, bok choy, kale, and almonds.
If you crave fatty foods, you may need more calories…
Try logging your caloric intake for a day to see where your calories and your macros are. If you do need more fat, focus on healthy fats like avocado, almonds, and coconut oil.
If you crave carbs, you could need more nitrogen…
Nitrogen is found in foods that are naturally high in proteins such as meat, fish, beans, and nuts. On the other hand, if you have recently gone Paleo, you may be craving carbs simply because you cut them out completely. Make sure you are getting enough carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables in your diet.
Tips to Manage Your Cravings
Sure, you know what your cravings mean, but that doesn’t make them any less strong.
To help you out, here are 5 tips that can help you manage your food cravings…
1. Don’t Cut Anything Out of Your Diet
If you’re dieting, you may be tempted to cut out some of the “bad” food. But doing so will just make the craving for them worse. Rather than cutting out certain foods, or worse, whole food groups, practice portion control.
2. Look For Healthier Alternatives
If you really can’t avoid your craving, look for a healthier alternative instead. Have a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a milk chocolate bar. Or reach for some kale or courgette chips instead of potato chips. You can easily Paleo-fy your favorite treats!
3. Don’t Wait Too Long to Eat
If you start skipping meals or just waiting too long before eating, chances are high you’re going to start craving something… something not so good for you. Keep your hunger in check by eating smaller meals, more often.
4. Keep a Cravings Journal
List the foods you are craving, the times of day, and any emotions you may be feeling at the time. Look for any patterns, and also look at the foods to remedy the situation.
5. Eat Smart Carbs
From a Paleo standpoint, carbs are not the devil. Yes, we admonish eating grains, but not all carbs are created equal. In fact, you can get enough carbohydrate to fuel your body and continue with your Paleo diet. Vegetables that contain 0-5 grams of carbohydrates per cup include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, sauerkraut, onions, spinach, and radishes. Starchy vegetables that contain about 10 grams of carbs per serving include squash, carrots, eggplant, yams, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and parsnips.
Sometimes food cravings can be overwhelming. But cravings aren’t always what they seem. They can go deeper than just a strong desire for a piece of pie. Cravings can signal a lack of something on your diet.
Do you often crave certain foods? What is your strategy for dealing with food cravings? Leave a comment and share!
- Magee, E. (2005). The Facts About Food Cravings. In WebMB. Retrieved December 14, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/diet/the-facts-about-food-cravings.
- Thompson, D. (n.d.). Are You Anemic? In Everyday Health. Retrieved December 14, 2015 from http://www.everydayhealth.com/anemia/anemia-basics.aspx
- Fantar, S. (n.d.). List of Minerals in Sea Salt. In SF Gate. Retrieved December 14, 2015 from http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-minerals-sea-salt-8907.html