Cravings make it difficult to stick to your diet, especially since our strongest ones tend to be for sugary, salty, or fatty foods.
That afternoon bar of chocolate or late night bag of fries add several hundred calories to your diet and, before you know it, those daily snacks have turned into a few extra pounds.
The best way to avoid cravings is to eat a nutritionally balanced diet. If your cravings are coming on too strongly though, there are still some healthy choices you can make that ensure you get the nutrients you need without succumbing to processed food.
A chocolate craving can indicate a lack of magnesium in your diet.
Instead of picking up a candy bar from the convenience store, go for a simple dark chocolate bar. Dark chocolate can take some getting used to, but the high cocoa content means it’s lower in sugar and the complex taste of the cocoa can be better appreciated.
Dark chocolate isn’t meant to be chewed, but instead held in the mouth and allowed to melt over the tongue. This slow method of eating, combined with its more intense flavor, allows you to satisfy your craving while consuming less chocolate and keeping your calorie count down.
Audrey Hepburn often spoke about her overwhelming love of chocolate, and mentioned that she kept her cravings at bay by consuming a single square of dark chocolate daily.
We have evolved to crave salt because it is essential to life and hard to find in nature. It’s the same reason why wildlife flock to salt licks that hunters leave out.
However, with so many processed foods in our modern diet, salt cravings are seldom an indication of a dietary lack of salt.
Craving salty foods like potato chips can be a symptom of being under-hydrated or not having enough electrolytes. It can also be a sign that you are too stressed.
Stop the cravings before they begin by making sure that you are drinking enough water, especially if you are sweating more than usual from heat or exercise.
If you participate in endurance activities, coconut water will replenish your electrolytes with less sugar and artificial flavors than typical sports drink.
Instead of snacking on fries to alleviate your salt cravings, healthier options would be nuts, pickles, or raw vegetables dipped in hummus.
Fat has a bad reputation of causing heart disease and weight gain. While fat is more calorie dense per gram than protein or carbohydrates, it is also incredibly filling and is an essential macronutrient for body function.
Fat helps other nutrients become absorbed by the body, makes flavors more intense, and helps keep you satiated.
The key is to choose healthy fats and to eat them in moderation. Fat cravings are an indication of a fatty acid deficiency, which just means that you’re not eating enough fat or high quality fat.
When you’re craving fatty foods, try having grilled fish with a side of green vegetables tossed in olive oil instead of butter. You’ll get enough fat to satisfy your craving while keeping your meal healthy.
Carbohydrate cravings tend to be paired with fatigue or emotional stress.
Carbohydrates give you a quick boost of energy and many comfort foods, which are tied to happy memories, tend to be heavy in them.
The trouble with eating too many carbs is that, after that burst of energy, your blood sugar levels can fluctuate and your meal could actually leave you feeling more tired.
For longer lasting energy, try eating more protein and choose whole grains over refined. If you’re stressed, try finding a stress reliever that doesn’t involve food.
Check to see if your school offers counseling sessions to students, if they host group activities like stress-relief classes or yoga, or if there are some hidden lounges or meditation centers around campus where you can relax during the day.
Often, severe cravings for junk food appear not because of a nutrient deficiency, but because of a sugar addiction.
Overcoming a sugar addiction means cutting it out cold turkey. There’s little that can be done about recurring junk food cravings, aside from eating clean.
There are times when a craving is actually a signal that your body is lacking certain nutrients. Instead of giving into junk food, try to figure out what your body is telling you and make healthier choices to fulfill your body’s nutritional needs.