What do your food cravings really mean?

What do your food cravings really mean?

It can hit you out of nowhere or come on slowly to the point of no end. Cravings are often an anomaly. Why do we get them? How do we make them stop? The truth is that they can happen for many different reasons, biological or emotional. If you find yourself with a nagging sweet tooth or craving for salt, here are some possible explanations to help you understand and control them better.

Sweet – when your sweet tooth is acting up it could be a sign that you’re either feeling down or low on energy. It could also be triggered by various other reasons including hormonal, or not eating enough carbs.

Solution: when a sweet craving hits, have a serving of fruit. The natural sweetness of the fruit tricks your brain into thinking you got your sugar rush, just without the calories.

Spicy – if you want to add a little heat to your diet, it could mean that you’re in the mood for some adventure or looking for a thrill. Some people also find spicy foods more satisfying and filling in general.

Solution: Bring on the hot sauce and jalapeños! Adding peppers or hot sauce to your meals adds a lot of heat without a lot of calories. To satisfy the adventure cravings, we suggest finding an action-based activity to try this weekend. Go for a hike, sign up for a race or check out the nearest rock-climbing gym. More thrills please!

Salty – Whether you’re feeling high-strung, over worked, or even depressed, salty foods may help activate our feel-good emotions in the brain that help us relax and stay calm.

Solution: Relax with a cup of tea. Chamomile is known for it’s calming effect, but also consider treating yourself to a new tea variety. We love lemon ginger or white rose.

Crunchy – if you need to relieve some stress or tension, crunchy foods might be your go-to.

Solution: Keep chopped veggies in the fridge. Sliced carrots and mini sweet peppers offer that “munch-munch, crunch-crunch” we’re craving without the calories.

Chocolate – similar to when you’re craving sweets, chocolate is usually the ultimate ” soul food” that can offer a quick mood pick-me-up and and food for the soul. It can also indicate a need for more intimacy in your life or feeling like you need more human-to-human contact considering its a top aphrodisiac.

Solution: Studies suggest dark chocolate may have health benefits so we suggest treating yourself to two squares of dark chocolate when the craving hits. It’s important to exercise portion control, as the calories can add up and lead to weight gain. Choose 70% dark chocolate or higher to obtain the most flavanols and best health benefits.

Pasta – like most carbohydrate-rich foods, pasta is the ideal comfort food for when you’re in need of extra tender, love and care. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or even sad, pasta can be the most convenient way to feel soothed and comforted.

Solution: This is a good time to phone a friend and reach out to your support network. It’s important to use healthier coping strategies than turning to food for comfort. When we emotionally eat, we usually overeat and then feel guilty, perpetuating the cycle. Time to distract yourself and get your support in healthier ways.

Dairy – we usually link dairy with yummy desserts or nourishment, especially from childhood.  When you can’t get dairy off your mind it could be that you’re really just feeling nostalgic or looking for a quick reward that brings you back to the more carefree days of your adolescence.

Solution: try dipping slices of banana or berries in plain low-fat Greek yogurt and popping them into the freezer on parchment paper. You’ll have creamy & sweet treats that will help satisfy the craving in a high fiber, high protein sort of way.

Caffeine – there is a direct positive correlation between feeling tired or burnt out and the desire to drink more caffeine. In all forms, especially coffee, caffeine offers us a boost of energy or mental alertness especially when we’re feeling like we need a little help to tackle the day and all life’s responsibilities and/or stresses.

Solution: Time to get in bed earlier. Try turning off all stressful technology 60 minutes before your intended sleep time. Staying up late and working right before bed makes sleep slow to come. Try reading a book or watching a relaxing show (hello British baking shows on Netflix).

Nick VanMeter