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Nutrition • July 03, 2018

Why Do We Crave Foods And How To Fight It

Learn what your food cravings really mean and what you should really eat.

Why Do We Crave Foods And How To Fight It

Have you ever craved a certain type of food so much that you were ready to stop everything just to go get it?  
Sometimes we get this intense feeling of a certain food that we want. But, do we really just want it - or do we need it?

Let’s say you really, really want chocolate. The craving gets stronger as you try not to think about it, right? That moment nothing is more important.
Well, that might mean that your body is trying to tell you something, so pay closer attention.


Listen to your body
Our body is a hard working machine. It is constantly trying to keep itself in balance (homeostasis), and with a couple of tricks, it will give us a signal when something’s missing (or the opposite).
Our job is to learn how to listen to these signals, and to figure out whether we’re getting a false alarm. Food cravings are not the enemy, as many people believe. They don’t have to be ignored or fought.

Next time you crave a certain food, try to figure out if you’re experiencing a usual feeling, if you had already come across the same urge. It might just be a “bad” habit (let’s say you are trying to eat healthier, and at night you really want some potato chips because that’s what you have been doing until now. That would be a habit, not a signal of deficiency).
But if you find yourself randomly yearning for some sweet potato in the middle of a day, something you’ve never experienced before, that might be your body telling you something is off.

Each craving usually has its meaning. But you must remember that it is sometimes okay to give in. A piece of chocolate won’t ruin anything (unless you are on a strict diet, prepping for a show, or similar).
If you give in, don’t feel guilty. Yes, you can nib on cacao nibs instead of eating chocolate, but let’s be real; chocolate is freaking delicious and we can enjoy it moderately, just like any other food.


Not listening is a bad idea  

When we get a food craving and we deny it… our brain wants it even more. The more we say “No”, the more we want it.
What usually happens next is that we grab some fruit to kill the cravings, but that doesn’t really do the trick. We still want that exact food. Then we devour some more fruit, end up eating a lot of it, and maybe even eating the very same food we desired in the first place. 

That’s why we need to learn to moderately enjoy the food we crave. If you want a Twix bar and you end up stuffing your face with three of them, that is not moderate. But eating one bar, thinking about it and asking ourselves “How does this actually taste?” is mindful eating, and we should all remember how it’s done.


What do you crave?

Now that you’ve learned about food cravings and the fact that they might be a habit or a real deficiency of some micronutrient, you will find out what each typical craving means and which foods you can eat if you don’t want to break your diet.


1. Sweets

CHOCOLATE
Why you might crave it: Magnesium deficiency
Restore with: Raw cacao nibs, whole grain beans, nuts, seeds, magnesium

CANDY
Why you might crave it: Low blood sugar, Tryptophan deficiency, Chromium deficiency, Sulphur deficiency or Phosphorus deficiency
Restore with:
-Fruits, high fibre foods, cinnamon (for low blood sugar)
-Spirulina, pumpkin/sunflower seeds, sweet potato, spinach (for Tryptophan deficiency)
-Onion, tomato, grapes, apple, sweet potato, cinnamon (for Chromium deficiency)
-Kale, cabbage, cranberries, garlic, asparagus (for Sulphur deficiency)
-Whole grains, pumpkin seeds, brazil nuts, lentils (for Phosphorus deficiency)

SODA/FIZZY DRINKS
Why you might crave it: Calcium deficiency
Restore with: Sesame seeds, broccoli, kale, mustard or make some sparkling water with a squeeze of fruit juice and ice


2. Snacks

POPCORN
Why you might crave it: Iron or Zinc deficiency or stress hormone fluctuations
Restore with:
-Beef, pork, tofu, shellfish, whole grains (for Iron and Zinc deficiency)
-Leafy greens, meditation, deep breathing, vitamin B and C (for stress hormone fluctuations)

POTATO CHIPS
Why you might crave it: Chloride or Essential Fatty Acids deficiency
Restore with:
-Olives, celery, tomato, Himalayan sea salt (for Chloride deficiency)
-Omega 3 supplement, flax oil and flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds (for Essential Fatty Acids deficiency)

CHEESE
Why you might crave it: Essential Fatty Acids or Calcium deficiency
Restore with:
-Omega 3 supplement, flax oil and flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds (for Essential Fatty Acids deficiency)
-Sesame seeds, broccoli, kale, mustard, turnip greens (for Calcium deficiency)

PRETZELS
Why you might crave it: Mineral deficiency (Calcium, Magnesium or Zinc)
Restore with: 
-Shellfish, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, yoghurt (for Magnesium and Zinc deficiency)
-Sardines, raw milk, cheese, kale, okra, almonds, broccoli (for Calcium deficiency)


3. Common foods

BREAD/TOAST
Why you might crave it: Nitrogen deficiency
Restore with: Meat and poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, nuts, soy products

PASTA/PASTRIES
Why you might crave it: Chromium deficiency
Restore with: Onion, tomato, grapes, apple, sweet potato, cinnamon

RED MEAT
Why you might crave it: Iron deficiency
Restore with: Beans, figs and other dried fruits, spinach, cherries, and vitamin C for better Iron absorption

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