What do your cravings mean? Your Food Cravings Decoded
We’ve all had a sudden hankering for a certain dish – like a bowl of creamy pasta, a bucket of fried chicken or a tub of ice cream. But don’t brush off these sudden cravings for sinful treats cravings as moments of weakness – your body could be crying out for something it needs.
You’re craving: Salty chips
You really need: To de-stress and hydrate
Your salt cravings mean you need to drink more water. Essential minerals like sodium, magnesium and calcium require water to be absorbed by the body, so it’s no surprise the lack of sodium is felt when you’re dehydrated. So lay off the chips and drink up! And when you’re stressed, your adrenal glands (which also govern your salt levels) go in overdrive and trigger a salt craving. While it’s OK to sprinkle some healthy sea salt on your food, don’t go overboard and find activities to de-stress to keep the salt craving at bay. Dietician Ravinder Lily also recommends foods like salmon, broccoli and whole grains, which contain vitamin B to support your adrenals.
You’re craving: Creamy, cheesy foods
You really need: Healthy fats and carbs
If you feel like pigging out on macaroni and cheese, your body might be looking for feel-good vibes. “One reason for those cravings might be low levels of serotonin, which helps lift our mood. Eating foods with good carbs and fat (like milk) may increase the absorption of an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps our body create serotonin,” says dietician Chloe Ong from Parkway Cancer Centre. If you’re on a diet, replace dairy with food like avocado, nuts, oily fish like salmon and cod, as well as olive oil.
You’re craving: Sweet food
You really need: Wholegrain carbs
“When your blood sugar levels drop, you will feel tired and your body will crave sugary foods for a burst of energy,” says Dr Sarah Sinaram from the Raffles Diabetes and Endocrine Centre. Go for foods that will steadily increase your blood sugar levels to keep you sustained. Go for healthy carb-based snacks such as wholegrain pasta and multigrain bread as “they produce gradual rises in blood sugar due to their slow digestion and absorption.”
Having trouble keeping your craving for fatty foods in check? Just keep these three D’s in mind:
- Distance – Not all cravings are equal. Some involve food that satisfy us after we’ve had a small serving of it. And then there are those that have you licking the crumbs off your fingers. Figure out the kinds of food that you can’t get enough of, then keep your distance from them!
- Distract – You’ve done your chores and there’s nothing on TV, so you might as well stuff your face with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s, right? Wrong. Boredom can lead to food cravings because eating makes you feel good. The trick is to replace eating with a healthier yet no less enjoyable activity: you could hang out with your best friend, go to the movies or take a relaxing walk in the park.
- Destroy – Clear your house of unhealthy snacks and make an effort to stop purchasing them – the money you save from not buying titbits can go into your “new dress fund”.
More tips to help you banish your food demons!
By Natalie Pang, CLEO, March 2014