Have you ever felt like you cannot survive another minute without tearing into a bag of chips and gobbling up the entire thing? Or had such a strong craving for chocolate that you could swear that, just for a moment, your partner resembled a large, gooey brownie? These cravings don’t just happen because you have a particular hankering for something salty or sweet. In fact, food cravings can signal nutrient and vitamin deficiencies, stress, and even poor eating habits.
Craving salty snacks like potato chips and french fries could mean that your body isn’t getting enough of minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Salty cravings might also indicate that you’re dehydrated, because sodium is essential to maintain the body’s fluid balance. Thankfully, these deficiencies are easily solved.
For more calcium, look to yogurt, kale, and cheese. To add magnesium to your diet, spread yourself some avocado toast or end your night with a square of dark chocolate. Zinc is present in nuts, meaning you can feel good about popping some late-afternoon almonds. And, of course, dehydration is the easiest thing to solve; just drink more water!
» Try our delicious Crispy Kale Chips recipe—satisfy your chip craving and get more calcium!
If, however, it’s sweets you crave, there are a few things you could be suffering from — among them, stress! Yes, there is a reason you have a fierce craving for candy whenever things get a bit tense in the Friday morning meeting. Studies have shown that our bodies crave sweets when we’re feeling stress, sadness and anger. Since none of those emotions will ever completely disappear from our lives, a good way to deal with them and keep yourself from inhaling a baker’s dozen of cookies is to take 10 minutes and do yoga, which calms you down, puts you in the present moment, and might even make those cravings vanish.
» Fight stress with a yoga flow that you can do at home! Check out our 6 Yoga Moves to Relieve Stress video.
Sugar cravings can also signal a diet that is already high in simple carbohydrates. If you find your diet consists of a lot of white bread, pasta, bagels and pastries, that means your body is constantly experiencing energy spikes that are followed by blood sugar crashes. When your blood sugar crashes, your body wants another quick hit of energy, and sugar-heavy foods like candy and brownies will do just that.
To avoid these cravings and get your diet back on track, start incorporating more whole grains into your daily meals. Switch whole wheat bread and pasta in for their refined flour counterparts, and go easy on the bagels and pastries. You’re body, and its cravings, should be better in no time.
If you’re on track with your vitamin and mineral consumption and have a whole-grain diet, yet you still get crazy food cravings, the culprit might be sleep deprivation. That’s right, lack of sleep can make you crave some pretty extraordinarily unhealthy things. When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, the area of our brains responsible for complex judgments and decisions is impaired, and instead, the part of our brains that responds to rewards is increased.
So you’re walking past a donut shop after a few days, weeks, or months of bad sleep, you’re far less able to resist the craving to go in and grab a chocolate-iced donut or two. To solve this, make sure you have a firm bedtime routine each weeknight that has you going to sleep and getting up at the same time each day. This regulates your body’s clock and trains it to fall asleep and stay asleep at the same time each night.
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