What Your Food Cravings Are Telling You

In todays, ‘think thin’ society, high-protein diets are fashionable while carbohydrates are considered bad. There are those of the mindset that carbohydrates are connected with obesity and should be avoided like the plague. The reality is carbohydrates are the primarily energy source for proper body functioning. They are essential for proper heart function, breathing, digestion and exercise. 

If you crave sugar, your body is really asking for energy.  We get energy through carbohydrates, but the problem isn’t the fact we eat carbohydrates; it’s the choice of carbohydrates we choose to consume. Many people experience low energy mid-day or need a boost before exercise so they reach for the quickest, most available source of carbohydrates like candy bars, bagels, caffeinated soda, sports bars and power drinks. And many of these ‘sports products’ are loaded with sugars, salt, oils, fillers and chemicals. 

Since these simple carbohydrates have no real nutritional substance, they don’t have sustained energy and we wind up consuming more and more. Sugar is hidden in everything by various names. Read the labels and remember, anything packaged, processed or boxed are probably more than half additives and chemicals.

The human body is programmed by nature. In it’s natural way to stay balanced, it produces a craving for what it needs. The body’s instinctive nature to produce energy, which we consume 24/7, is produce a craving for sweets. The problem is that we went from naturally sweet foods like sweet potato, squash, roots, grains and fruit, to sugar-laden manufactured products.

Today’s battle with diabetes, heart problems and obesity are directly related to this shift in our decision to override our human instincts. This, coupled with a stressful, hurried lifestyle is what pushes people to reach for the quickest, most available fix - junk food.

The good news is you can diminish your cravings for sugar by eating foods rich in nutrients. Eat the almond or peanut butter, but put it on celery sticks or rice cakes rather than white bread. Eat the pizza with low fat ‘real’ cheese and top with vegetables rather than processed cheese with high-fat meats. Include nuts and fruit for energy along with sweet vegetables such as corn, carrots, beets and yams. Instead of sweetening things with refined sugar or chemical sweeteners, choose agave, brown rice syrup or real maple syrup. 

Let’s look at some other cravings to see what the body is truly asking for.

  • Craving salty foods is often an indication of a mineral deficiency. Before you reach for a bag of chips or salty nuts, try eating leafy greens. They are high in minerals. When you do salt your food, use celtic sea salt or natural pink salt rather than common table salt. Both are packed with minerals.

  • Craving bitter food is often a sign of your body needing digestive assistance in cutting through fat and regenerating stagnant body organs and digestive tract. Eat dark leafy greens, mustard greens dandelion, kale and collards.

  • If you crave pungent foods your body may need help detoxing the large intestine, liver and lungs. Ginger and numeric are excellent for this, as well as cayenne, scallions, leeks, and garlic.

  • Spicy food cravings usually means the body needs help in blood circulation which stagnates after years of eating food stored on a shelf for a long time. Spices such as cayenne, hot pepper, jalapeño, basil, horseradish, and wasabi can kick start the body’s vitality and energy,

Perhaps understanding the causes of cravings can help you make better choices.

  • Dehydration, for instance, first occurs as a mild hunger. If you drink a glass of water you may satiate the craving. If you try that and are still hungry, then eat. 

  • Emotions ranging from boredom to stress, to a dysfunctional relationship can lead to emotional eating. Try to stop a moment and feel your emotions. Maybe a walk, a warm bath or a conversation will resolve the craving.

  • Being overtired, pushing yourself all day without eating to the point of feeling ravenous? This often leads to grabbing the first thing edible even if you know its not healthy.

  • Hormone fluctuations in females are sometimes unpredictable, but it helps to be prepared during those times. Pack some healthy snacks, take some herbal supplements that may help alleviate the imbalance.

  • Boredom is a frequent trigger. Many people eat more during a working day than a day they are off simply because they are confined, doing something they don’t enjoy and need a reason to get up for something - a snack.

Once you can decipher what your body truly craves, and you give it what it needs in the best nutritious form, the body balance itself and you WILL alleviate the white-knuckle cravings!

" Dawn is the personal trainer that allows my soul to be there." Lee