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.

Meat free Monday

Every Monday morning when I get in to work my Twitter feed is scattered with #meatfreeMonday Tweets.
Intrigued, I decided to check it out.

As a devoted meat eater I personally think I would struggle to be vegetarian but this initiative, of going meat free for one day a week, seemed like it could be doable and with added health benefits I decided to give it a go.

Not only that, but the campaign is dedicated to helping the planet by reducing carbon emissions of meat production.

I’ve often heard that too much red meat is bad for you yet too little can leave your iron stores depleted meaning you are left feeling tired with little energy. It’s a tough balancing act but according to Oxford University’s department of public health eating meat a maximum of three times a week could prevent an astounding 31,000 people dying from heart disease.

Added incentives to join Meat Free Monday include the cost. By skipping your daily meat one day a week you could save some pennies as meat free alternatives are noticeably cheaper – an ideal time to save money with the festive season ahead.
And of course there are the animals to consider as well.

With all that in mind, I checked out the McCartney’s website and my meat free Monday began.

My meals today were far from inventive but were more quick and easy due to being back at work after a week off and a training session to cram in – but I’m looking forward to trying out some new and exciting recipes, many of which can be found on the website, next week.

So today, I had:
Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries
Morning snack: banana and raisins
Lunch: Cottage cheese salad
Afternoon snack: carrot sticks and rice pudding
Dinner: Spinach, mushroom and tomato omelette with vegetables

The recipe I’m going to be trying next week is Deep Dark Black Bean Soup. Check it out here and I’ll post how I got on with making it next week.

Have you tried meat free Monday? Have you felt any health/bank balance benefits? Comment below and let me know 🙂