Is Your Food Craving Trying to Tell You Something?
Molten lava cakes, banana bread, sweet potato fries, samosas, chocolate covered pretzels, cinnamon donuts… I could go on all day, but I’m sure I’ve already got you salivating with these crave-worthy foods. How many times have you said, “I’m craving a chocolate chip cookie today, let’s go to the nearest bakery?!” Or what about, “There’s nothing that would be more satisfying than a big, juicy burger right about now, maybe with a stack of waffle fries too?” Whether your poison is savory or sweet – don’t worry, it happens to the best of us. Listening to your body’s clues for which of your systems might be out of whack is the best way to fight these cravings. Let’s go through the 3 main types of food cravings:
- Sweet Craving
More often than not, I find myself craving some chocolate brownies or chocolate cake (or both). I’m that person who cannot walk past a café display of freshly baked goods without being tempted. Sugar is the most popular kind of craving. Ingesting sugar causes a spike in our blood sugar levels – feeding into a vicious cycle. Insulin is consequently secreted, our sugar levels drop, and our body is left craving that higher sugar level. Many of us are in fact addicted to sugars. Other cravings may not be far behind.
Having sweet cravings can mean one of two things. One – you don’t eat enough, or two – you are eating the wrong things. To combat this, try to consume more foods lower on the Glycemic Index (i.e. sweet potatoes, pumpernickel bread, fruits, or steel cut oats). These foods have a slower release of energy into your body, so your blood sugar level will not drop as fast, and you will feel satisfied longer. Eating some lean protein and healthy fat (i.e. olive oil), is also a good idea – both of which will keep you full.
Be sure to pack healthier alternatives as snacks (i.e. dried fruits, dates, or even green tea sweetened with honey if you’re feeling thirsty). It won’t be a piece of cake resisting that piece of cake (haha) if your stomach is empty. So, here’s hoping this helps you prepare yourself with some satisfying snacks for those taste buds.
- Fried Foods
In Chinese culture, fried foods are said to have a “hot” essence, which means experiencing fried cravings could signify that you have an internal “cold” essence. To combat this, your body needs other “warm” foods such as fresh ginger tea or hot lemon tea. Both are also very good for digestion. Another reason why your body is craving fatty foods is obvious – your body needs fat and you are not getting enough! With that being said, don’t make a beeline towards overly processed foods, dripping in hydrogenated oil. Go for the healthy unsaturated fats (i.e. avocado, oily fish, almonds, flax seeds and cashews).
- Salty Foods
Salt cravings are related to your body’s energy reserves and have to do with kidney functions. You may be missing trace minerals found in natural salt, such as chloride. The typical choice, table salt, is highly processed and missing many of these.
In addition, the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine has shown that your brain is more sensitive to food smells when you lack sleep, making you more susceptible to temptation. This is why late-night studying sessions or long shifts at work often lead to swinging by McDonald’s in the middle of the night. When you’re sitting around and not eating enough balanced or nutritious foods, don’t be surprised if you make a sneaky run for chips or fries later. Try getting more sleep to prevent these cravings. Switching to an unrefined mineral salt and consciously avoiding super salty junk foods are also major keys.
The bottom line is…
Ultimately, our body already knows what it needs to function at its finest, and it will give you clues as to what fuel you need to feed it. At the end of the day, the food we consume is essentially fuel for our body, so don’t neglect those cravings! And of course, an indulgence here and there is necessary to keep sane. Sometimes, that double chocolate cupcake with chocolate chunks just happens to be calling your name!
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Written by: Grace Tien