What Do Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Satisfy Them

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What Do Your Food Cravings Mean? | If you have a tendency to crave a specific taste or texture, you may wonder what the cause may be. Whether you prefer salty or sweet foods, fatty foods, or chocolate, this post dives into what your food cravings may be trying to tell you about your body and hormones. We've also included a list of healthy alternatives to common food cravings, allowing you to satisfy your hunger without derailing your healthy eating and weight loss goals.

Everyone experiences food cravings, but what do your food cravings mean? Food cravings can be caused by a variety of things, from vitamin and nutrient deficiencies to hormonal imbalances to dehydration, stress and more. Cravings can be your body’s way of communicating what it needs and this shouldn’t go ignored. We’re letting you in on some of the most common food cravings, why you crave them and how to satisfy your cravings in a healthy way.

Salty Foods

What Causes Salty Food Cravings?
If you’re craving salty foods, it’s most likely caused by dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Dehydration can occur due to things like excessive sweating, prolonged exercise, not drinking enough water and consuming too much alcohol.

Stress can also lead to salt cravings, as can lack of sleep. When your body is under stress, it releases cortisol and other hormones, and high cortisol levels have been linked to food cravings. When you’re tired and crave salt, your hunger cues are stronger and you have less willpower. You may lack the energy to meal prep or make healthy food choices. When we’re tired and stressed, our bodies crave comfort foods that are high in sodium like potato chips, French fries, nachos and crispy chicken.

Another reason you may crave salt is that your diet is already high in salt. If your current diet consists of a lot of processed and fast foods, you’ll crave higher amounts of salt than someone with a low-sodium diet. You may even add salt to your food before even tasting it. Try reducing the amount of salt in your diet to see if it helps with the cravings.

How to Satisfy Salty Food Cravings
Your salt craving is your body’s way of looking to restore electrolyte and fluid balance. Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is one of the best ways to satisfy your salt cravings. Oftentimes thirst is masked by hunger, and salty foods stimulate thirst, so if you’re craving something salty, your body may just be thirsty.

Swapping out salt for spices like garlic powder, black pepper and ginger can reduce future salt cravings. You can also make these healthy snack swaps:

  • Air popped popcorn (without salt and butter)
  • Kale chips
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Edamame
  • Nuts
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds

Sweet Foods

What Causes Sugar Cravings?
Sugar is incredibly addictive, but excess sugar consumption can lead to cavities, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other health problems. If you’re craving sweets all of a sudden, it could mean you’re experiencing blood sugar fluctuations. When your blood sugar drops, your body may want you to give it more fuel to keep your blood sugar levels stable, which will often have you reaching for quick fixes like cookies, pastries and candy.

When you eat this way for a long period of time, the reward centre in your brain triggers a pleasure response with sweet foods. This makes healthier foods less enticing. A lack of sleep can also trigger sugar cravings. When you don’t get proper rest, your body produces more gherlin, a hormone that increases hunger and appetite, while reducing leptin, your satiety hormone. Your body starts to feel hungrier throughout the day and you crave quick energy.

How to Satisfy Sugar Cravings
Make sure your diet is balanced with protein, healthy fats, vegetables and complex carbohydrates. To keep your blood sugar balanced, make sure you’re eating lots of protein and add more high-fibre foods, such as beans and legumes to your diet as well. This will help give your body fuel without the blood sugar spikes.

Eating fruit can also help with sugar cravings, and pairing it with a fat or protein is ideal. For example, a banana with nut butter or berries with Greek yogurt. Here are some foods to help keep your sugar cravings at bay:

  • Berries
  • Avocados
  • Chia seeds
  • Pistachios
  • Beans and lentils
  • Hummus
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Meat, poultry and fish

Fatty Foods

What Causes Fatty Food Cravings?
If you’re craving fatty foods, it could be a sign that your body wants specific nutrients, likely fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, K, D and E. These vitamins are essential for your immune system, stabilizing blood sugar levels and helping determine how your body uses and stores calcium.

High fat foods are also higher in calories, so if you’re craving fatty foods, it could indicate that your body needs more calories. If you’ve been restricting calories, it could be a sign from your body that you’re not getting enough energy from your current diet to function optimally.

How to Satisfy Fatty Food Cravings
Some days you may be hungrier than others and you should listen to what your body’s telling you. Perhaps you did a really intense workout or forgot to eat lunch because you were so busy at work. To curb fatty food cravings, make sure you eat balanced meals on a regular schedule. We crave fried and fatty foods like pizza and chicken fingers to satisfy our body’s need for fat soluble vitamins, but eating processed fatty foods doesn’t fix the underlying issues and will lead us to continue to crave them. Make sure your diet is rich in whole foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins such as:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocados
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Oily fish
  • Liver
  • Green, leafy vegetables
  • Egg yolks

Chocolate

What Causes Chocolate Cravings?
Chocolate cravings are likely due to its rich magnesium content, ability to increase hormones in the brain, and sugar and fat content. Chocolate also increases serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin levels in the brain. These neurotransmitters signal your reward pathways and happiness levels. If you’re craving chocolate, it could mean you have a magnesium deficiency, which is quite common these days.

How to Satisfy Chocolate Cravings
The thing about craving chocolate is that you can actually eat dark chocolate to satisfy your cravings – ideally with a cacao percentage of 70 percent or higher. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, which can reduce heart disease risk and improve brain function. Indulge in a couple squares of dark chocolate to curb your chocolate craving. Since cacao is an excellent source of magnesium, your chocolate cravings could be telling you that you need more magnesium in your diet. Try these magnesium rich foods:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Tofu
  • Whole grains
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Quinoa

Next time you have one of these cravings, try to satisfy it with healthy options to fix the underlying issue rather than relying on a quick fix.

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What do your food cravings mean and how do you satisfy them? We hope we answered this question for you and if we did, we’d love it if you shared this post on Pinterest.

What Do Your Food Cravings Mean? | If you have a tendency to crave a specific taste or texture, you may wonder what the cause may be. Whether you prefer salty or sweet foods, fatty foods, or chocolate, this post dives into what your food cravings may be trying to tell you about your body and hormones. We've also included a list of healthy alternatives to common food cravings, allowing you to satisfy your hunger without derailing your healthy eating and weight loss goals.

If you want to learn more about healthy food options, make sure to follow our Health Board on Pinterest!

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