Find out what your body is trying to tell you when you crave particular foods and what to do instead of giving in to overeating
- What food cravings tell you about your body
- How to manage cravings and satisfy them more healthily
- Easier ways to make better food choices
Uncontrollable urges to gorge on certain types of food don’t necessarily mean you’ve lost your will power or are giving in to a greedy day. They can (also!) be your body’s way of telling you about your needs. It could be that you’re deficient in a particular nutrient, you could do with some emotional support, an energy lift, or that your digestive system is suffering. Your food cravings can be an amazing tool for helping you tune into your own, unique needs. So let’s delve into it and give you some great ways to help you make better food choices.
5 Common Food Cravings Explained
1. Salty food
Burying your face in a bag of crisps or chips, and not stopping until the last salty morsel is licked thoroughly off every finger could be a sign that you’re stressed. Our adrenal glands become overworked in times of stress. And because one of the adrenal glands’ functions is to produce a hormone called aldosterone, which keeps our sodium levels steady, we lose salt when its production goes down. You may think the answer is to eat more salt to sort out the balance, but do you really want to stuff yourself with a hefty amount of processed food? There must be another way...
WHAT TO DO:
- Deal with the root of the problem by looking at ways to manage stress and take the load off your adrenal glands.
- Learning breathing techniques, delegation, saying no, avoiding stressful situations and people are all wonderful ways to help.
- Incorporate Organic Burst Maca powder into your daily routine, which strengthens the body and increases stamina and endurance because it acts as an adaptogen – which literally means it helps us adapt to situations. Maca also contains calcium, potassium and iron - if you're low in these nutrients you tend to crave more salt, so maca can help you combat salt cravings from both angles!
"Craving salty foods could be a sign that you’re stressed as our adrenal glands use it up."
A love of chocolate is deep rooted in many of us, interestingly in more women than men, but the two main triggers for chocolate cravings are a magnesium deficiency and/or a low mood. Raw cacao powder (chocolate in its most natural state) is an incredibly rich source of magnesium, so it’s only natural that our bodies associate an extra need for this mineral with eating chocolate.
We become low in magnesium when we do a lot of high intensity exercise and when we don’t eat enough greens, nuts and seeds. Magnesium levels are also affected by some medications, alcohol and caffeine. A lot of women madly crave chocolate during their period because magnesium is a muscle relaxant and can help with cramps.
If you’re down, you naturally seek out foods that will increase the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin that modulates mood. The bad news is, that gorging on chocolate usually makes us feel worse in the long run, partly to do with feelings of shame about overeating, but also the blast of refined sugar and fat into our bodies leads to hormonal imbalances and weight gain.
WHAT TO DO:
- Enrich your diet with plenty of magnesium-rich foods, these include greens like spinach and kale, cashew nuts, sunflower seeds.
- Choose your chocolate fix carefully, homemade raw chocolate treats with cacao powder are fantastic, adding some cacao nibs to your breakfasts, or buy only the best quality dark chocolate, ideally sweetened with unrefined sugar.
"Combat chocolate cravings by eating more magnesium-rich foods - green veg, cashews and sunflower seeds."
3. & 4. Dairy and Gluten
‘Don’t you dare tell me to avoid my favourite foods!’ We hear you, but we’re focusing on dairy and gluten because of the body’s dramatic response to these seemingly innocent substances. Many of us have trouble digesting dairy foods - especially milk and grains high in gluten - especially wheat (bread, pizza, pasta, pastries, etc.). The proteins in these foods can irritate the gut, making it inflamed and allowing undigested particles, known as peptides, into our bloodstream.
The reason we love these foods is that the peptides have an opiate effect on our brains, meaning they imitate the effect of drugs like heroine and morphine. Being a ‘pasta-junkie’ takes on a whole new meaning! It’s also quite a cruel trick that our brains make us crave the foods that are damaging our gut lining, but you can fight back...
WHAT TO DO:
- Monitor how you feel when you eat any foods containing dairy and gluten, watching out for digestive symptoms as well as a tendency to eat too much and with urgency.
- Try cutting out the offending foods, you can try switching to sheep, goat and buffalo milks and cheeses as these tend to be less irritating on digestion. There are tonnes of gluten-free options, check out our recipes page for some new ideas.
- Nourish your body to allow your intestine to heal and repair with fresh vegetables and essential fats. Organic Burst Chlorella contains a high level of iron, manganese, Vitamin B6 & B12 to help form new cells in your body, it also balances bacteria in your gut for good digestive health.
Your day was going so well, but you’ve hit a wall, your legs feel like lead, energy has dropped and you can no longer concentrate. What sorts you out like nothing else? For a lot of people, active energy-bunnies and desk-bound students alike, something sugary is the perfect pick-me-up. This is because glucose is our body’s primary fuel – used up mainly by the brain, which explains the need for a boost when studying.
As anyone who is familiar with diabetes knows however, too much sugar is a disaster because it upsets our energy balance and makes us resistant to insulin. Chromium is the most important nutrient to help manage blood sugar levels and it is found in very high levels in natural sugar cane. Unfortunately sweets are made with refined sugar cane, which has all the chromium stripped away, giving us no support in the processing of this dangerous substance in our bodies.
WHAT TO DO:
- Reduce your sugar cravings with Organic Burst Spirulina powder, simply take a teaspoon in a glass of water with lemon juice when you get a craving.
- Choose natural sugars from fruit, black strap molasses (which also contains chromium), dates, grapes.
- Make sure you eat enough foods containing chromium through the day to help balance energy and avoid sugar cravings. Go for broccoli, green beans and brewers yeast.
- Follow the blood sugar balancing advice in our article How to Combat Cravings.
"For sugar cravings, make sure you eat enough foods with chromium. Choose broccoli and green beans."
The next time a food craving hits you, stop and consider whether you’re tired, stressed, sad or haven’t eaten enough greens that day. Then go for the healthier version to get back into balance.