What are your cravings really trying to tell you?
It’s 3 pm and you’re at your desk when that a sugar hit strikes and nothing, absolutely nothing, can get between you and something sweet.
We all know that desperate feeling of being held hostage to our cravings. Sometimes you’ve just got to give into temptation. We get it. But if you’re having cravings regularly, there might be more to it than you think.
What’s the deal?
Cravings can be the result of a whole host of factors including habit, sleep deprivation, psychological comfort (stress, depression, anxiety), reward-seeking behaviour (I just worked out, so I deserve a little treat), or just because it tastes so damn good. Blame dopamine.
Dopamine relates to how you perceive and experience pleasure. During pleasurable moments or situations, this neurotransmitter is released, which causes a person to seek out a desirable activity over and over again. Even the very thought of giving into your craving raises dopamine levels in your brain. Hello, chocolate brownie.
But what if we told you that there might be a physiological reason you’re tempted to reach for yet another square of chocolate without taking your eyes off Netflix, and that a few simple food swaps could be the answer to keeping your health goals on track?
Here are some surprising insights that might help you think twice before you cave in to the next craving, with some helpful food swaps to compensate for key nutrients you may be lacking
Craving Chocolate? You May Need Magnesium …
- Handful of nuts eg raw almonds
- Fruit eg apples, apricots, bananas
- Sesame seeds
- Dark chocolate with 70% cocoa or higher or a raw cacao smoothie (Interestingly, hormonal fluctuations can see the body use up more magnesium which is why many women experience that combination of PMS and chocolate cravings.)
Craving sugar (cookies, cakes, soft drinks)? You may have a deficiency in these …
Sometimes it’s a sign of dehydration, so start with a glass or two and reboot your system
Added sugar has an addictive quality (behaviourally, psychologically and biochemically), lighting up some of the reward pathways in the brain. Sugar consumption increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, appetite, memory, and social behaviour. Because you feel happier, temporarily, your brain craves this happy chemical again and again. Even something as simple as taking a walk might help.
- Nature’s sugar: fresh fruit – apples, orange, berries
- Fatty Fish
- Sweet potatoes
- Green tea
Craving carby food (white bread, pasta)? You may need Nitrogen …
- Handful of nuts
Craving Salty Foods? You May Need B Vitamins…
- Fatty fish
- Himalayan salt
- Celery juice to remineralize the body
- Seaweed (incl kelp)
Craving Fried Foods? You May Need Calcium …
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark leafy vegetables
- Fats such as avocados, almonds, cashews