We all have a weakness when it comes to food right? Some prefer salty, some sweet, and others savory.
As contradicitng as it may seem, my biggest weakness is sweets! I know, I practically eat, breathe, and sleep exercise, nutrition, and a healthy lifestyle. Yet, I sometimes indulge in the very things that I know I should pass on. In an attempt to justify my cravings, I do eat healthily. There aren’t many days that I don’t eat a salad with lean meat for lunch, and rarely do I not meet my goal of vegetables and fruits daily. Despite my attempt to justify to you my cravings however, I do find myself struggling with my snack choices: carrots or the gummies “I bought for my nieces when they come stay.” To put it lightly, I do not always make the right choice.
This very scenario is precisely what sparked my curiosity further. Why is it that even the most health-conscious among us struggle with cravings, AND what are healthier options to help counterbalance them?
So into the rabbit hole of food cravings I went…
Being in the field, I have always known that the body, in its beautiful and miraculous way, tells us what it needs. The best example I have personally is the occasional desire for a burger or steak (lean and proportionate of course). Typically, if I ignore this craving, it lingers until I finally cave, and usually I feel a sense of relief once I do! Strange? No-not really! The body is hardwired to let us know when it is lacking nutrients that it needs, like minerals and vitamins. Thus, much of our innate cravings can be attributed to making sure our body is getting the appropriate amount vitamins and minerals through our foods.
At the very time I was reminding myself of the nutrients my body needs, I picked up Michael Moss’ book, Salt Sugar Fat. His book highlights the Food Industry’s role in the obesity epidemic in America, more specifically how they manipulate and control the average American’s desire to consume more and more salt, sugar, and/or fats. (A must read if you are ever at all interested in the evolving food industry of America!) I learned that many foods, mostly processed or pre-prepared, are “built” to increase your cravings for the very things we already crave naturally. In fact, my greatest weakness, sugar, is the one craving that is built into our biology from when we are just infants.
My questions of food cravings further lingered just like my desire for a steak, but every turn led me back to what I already knew, and much of what Moss’ book re-taught me: your body will tell you what it needs, but it is up to you to make the healthy, natural choice to meet that need. I created a list of food types that are commonly craved, what the body could be lacking, and a short list of foods that would be a healthier choice to meet such need. ENJOY!
What you really need is: sulfur, carbon, phosphorus, chromium
Healthy food options with these: eggs, fish, grapes, chicken, lean beef, legumes, fruits, beans, grapes, kale, cabbage
What you really need is: calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc
Healthy food options with these: nori, kelp, chia seeds, dried figs, some dairy, unrefined sea salt
What you really need is: calcium, sodium
Healthy food options with these: turnip greens, kale, broccoli, legumes, cheese, sesame, mustard
What you really need is: protein, avenin, calcium, potassium
Healthy food options with these: nuts, oatmeal, granola, black olives, brocolli, cabbage, lean meat
What you really need is: magnesium
Healthy food options with these: raw nuts, fruit, legumes, seeds
What you really need is: iron
Healthy food options with these: dried fruit, figs, lean beef, prunes, bean, legumes
What you really need is: nitrogen
Healthy food options with these: fish, lean meat, nuts, legumes
No matter your craving (sweet, salty, or savory), there is a healthy choice to help your body get the right nutrients and curb your cravings all the same!
– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC