Got a craving? Get your food fix by swapping it with a healthier (and just as tasty) alternative
Today is the day. You’ve committed to eating healthy, but all you can think about is how satisfying that extra cheesy pizza tastes. The day goes on: You managed to eat oatmeal for breakfast, a tuna salad for lunch, and trail mix for snacks. Dinnertime comes along; you still remember that hot cheesy pizza. The more you think about it, the “hungrier” you get. But hungry is not what your mind is telling you to feel; you’re simply craving pizza. If you were really hungry, you could pretty much eat anything.
Is it your fault you’re craving something? Are you just mentally weak? No and no. There are many possibilities that cause cravings—thirst, hormones, and emotions. Cravings, in fact, can also be a sign that your body is deficient in some nutrients.
Understanding what your body is asking for will help you make choices that will keep you on the healthy track while giving your body what it truly needs. Substituting cravings for healthier choices rather than simply satisfying your cravings is key. So, the next time your mind is clouded by cravings, pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you and try these food swaps instead.
Swap with: Dark chocolate and almonds
Chocolate is high in magnesium. This mineral is significant for your skin and hair as well as nerve and muscle function. If you’re craving chocolate, choose dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa or higher), as it contains more magnesium and less sugar. Also, try incorporating nuts (almonds) and dark leafy greens (spinach) in your diet; these contain a significant amount of magnesium.
Swap with: Grapes, Parmesan cheese, and broccoli
A good substitute for something sweet is fruits. Frozen grapes are a perfect go-to sweet snack. However, you may be deficient in chromium if you’re constantly craving sweets. This mineral helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Chromium is an essential mineral that is not made in the body and must be obtained though diet. Add some chromium-rich foods into your diet including liver, cheese, grapes, and broccoli.
Craving: Oily and fatty food
Swap with: Kale, spinach, soy, tofu, orange juice, and cereal
You may be low in the bone-building mineral. Calcium also plays an important role in nerve and muscle function. But in our attempt to avoid saturated fats, our dairy product intake has decreased, resulting in lower levels of calcium in the population. Other sources of calcium can be found in green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach as well as in soy and tofu. Some products such as orange juiceand cereals are fortified with calcium. Note that in order to absorb calcium efficiently, vitamin D needs to be present. For triathletes, enough vitamin D is obtained from sun exposure.
Craving: Salty food
Swap with: Bananas and unsweetened electrolyte drinks
When under pressure, our adrenal glands secrete aldosterone, a hormone that gives us the desire to eat salty food. Craving salty food may also mean you’re dehydrated. Replenish your mineral and electrolyte stores by eating a banana and drinking an unsweetened electrolyte drink.