Food cravings: what they really mean

Whether it’s that chocolate bar during the post lunch slump or the urge for a cool glass of Pinot on a Friday night, we all get cravings.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give in to our cravings but it’s all about balance and it wouldn’t be healthy to give in to them every single day.

I decided to write this post after I began craving some odd things. When I started CrossFit for example, all I wanted to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner was pineapple. After a quick internet search I learnt that my body was craving pineapple because my muscles were inflamed. They weren’t used to being worked in the way that CrossFit was working them and that craving was the result.

Ever since then I have been fascinated to learn about what particular food cravings mean. Often when we crave chocolate or something salty our body doesn’t actually need these things, it needs something else.

Research conducted by vouchercodespro.co.uk found that there are more nutritious ways to satisfy these cravings. For example, you might be interested to learn that when you think you’re craving a bar of chocolate your body actually needs magnesium which can be satisfied with a small handful of nuts. Similarly, when you fancy a glass of wine that craving can be satisfied with a serving of protein.

Check out their helpful infographic below:

Research from vouchercodespro.co.uk

Research from vouchercodespro.co.uk

Now that’s not to say that every time you crave something you should reach for an alternative but if you’re craving the same thing every day it might be a good idea to see if you are lacking in certain nutrients. A sign of low iron for example is when you are craving a good steak or any kind of red meat.

Aside from that, here are five of my tips to tackle unhealthy food cravings:

  1. Distract yourself – When we have food cravings it can often be because we are bored. If you find yourself craving something, start doing something else. Keep yourself busy and I guarantee that with your mind on other things it will soon pass.
  2. Have a drink – Often when we think we are hungry it’s actually because we are thirsty. When a craving hits, head to the kitchen for a glass of water or juice instead.
  3. Pay attention to what you’ve recently eaten – I always find that if I eat something sweet I then start craving other sweet foods for the rest of the day. Make a note of when cravings hit and you’ll soon start to see a pattern.
  4. Have healthy alternatives on hand – Keep nuts, fruit or carrot/celery sticks at work so that when you start feeling like you want to give in to a craving you’ve got healthy alternatives on hand.
  5. That said, giving in to a craving is fine – Why not try just having a quarter of what you would usually have though. If it is chocolate you really want, have a couple of squares of dark chocolate rather than a whole bar.
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