When you feel a craving coming on, have you ever asked yourself, what may be behind this?
First thing’s first: rule out PHYSICAL causes:
- Low blood sugar: can result in anxiety, irritability, fatigue… and cravings. You may be going too long between meals.
- Lack of sleep: can lead to cravings, mainly for sugar and stimulants (caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, etc.). Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
- Dehydration: can result in headaches, dizziness, low energy levels… and cravings! Aim for ~1/2 your body weight (in pounds) in oz of water daily. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, aim to drink ~60 oz of water per day.
Next, rule out NUTRITIONAL causes:
- High carb/starchy foods: when you eat carbs, your body actually produces more serotonin… the hormone that makes you feel good! If you are restricting carbs, you can end up craving them.
- Chocolate: consuming chocolate can also increase serotonin levels in the body. Chocolate is also rich in magnesium, which you also may be lacking if you find yourself craving chocolate. Other foods rich in magnesium include avocados, cashews, black beans, pumpkin seeds, tofu and whole grains.
- Fatty foods: if you find yourself craving foods high in fat (nuts, nut butters, cheeses, etc.), you may not be getting enough fat in your diet, specifically omega-3 fatty acids. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, avocado, flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts.
- Soda: if you find yourself craving soda, you may have low calcium levels. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, canned fish (salmon, sardines), dark leafy greens and fortified foods/beverages.
Finally, you’re left with HABITS:
- Is there a particular time or activity that makes you crave this food?
- Are you mindlessly eating (while driving, watching TV)?
- Are you going too long between meals and needing a sugar boost?
- Are you eating for comfort/an escape?
Working with a Registered Dietitian can help you to recognize these cravings and explore ways to shift these behaviors. So… what’s behind YOUR craving(s)?!
Infographic if you’d like to use on social channels:
Paige Heiden, MS, RDN – social media handle: @paiges_plates