What are you really craving?
It's 9 pm, it's been a big day. You're ready to crawl up into bed, but you can't get to sleep without the salivating feeling of a quick chocolate fix before bed. I'm sure almost 100% of people know this feeling.
It is true what they say, we are what we eat and our body does crave what we give it. If you've consumed chocolate every night for the past year. As humans, we're creatures of habit. Chances are we're craving what we've always known. However, if you're having a particularly intense craving, here is what your body might be crying out for.
Chocolate - Magnesium
Chocolate cravings have been linked to a lack of magnesium. Magnesium is used for over 900 chemical reactions in our body and magnesium stores can be easily depleted in times of stress or during strenuous exercise. Our body's magnesium needs also increase during menstruation, explaining the PMS symptom of craving chocolate. Foods high in magnesium can be found in nuts, seeds, and beans. If you're a chocolate fanatic, swap the craving with a good quality teaspoon of peanut butter.
Salt - Electrolytes
Salt cravings, such as hot chips covered in salt or salt and vinegar chips are linked to dehydration and electrolyte balance. If you are craving salt, ask yourself how much water you have had that day, and add some pink Himalayan salt to meals, and/or sip on coconut water.
Pasta or bread - Tryptophan
Craving high carb foods or 'comfort foods' is our body's way of trying to make us feel good, which could be due to a lack of Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is essential for making we feel-good hormone serotonin. Tryptophan can be found high in turkey, chicken, eggs, cheese, and fish.
Fried food - Fat
The good kind of fat! A craving for fried food can mean you're craving essential fatty acids filled with omega-3's that our bodies need to fight inflammation as well as assist with brain function and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Essential fatty acids are found in avocado, salmon, and nuts.
Sweets - blood sugar, stress, lack of sleep.
Ice cream, lollies, cookies, anything that gives us that oh-so-sweet sensation on our tongue can be linked to irregularities in blood sugar, stress, and lack of sleep. This is due to all three things create a change in our hormones, including insulin and cortisol, giving us the feeling that we need a quick amount of energy to keep our body coping through whatever it needs to under the hormonal irregularities. For these cravings, check in on your energy levels, give yourself some time for meditation or mindfulness, opt for a nutritious fulfilling meal, and set your bedtime a little earlier. If you believe your blood sugar levels might be an issue, check in with your doctor.
Or... is it psychological?
Are you really hungry or are you just bored? Do you want the chocolate bar or is it giving you a dopamine rush that you don't seem to be getting elsewhere? As humans living in the consumerism 21st-century world. We aren't immune to this. It's late at night and we're lonely, a pizza ad comes on TV. Our feel-good hormones want satisfaction from the taste. It's been a tough day or it's a season in life where things don't seem to be going your way - getting a quick feel-good fix through food is something that gives us a momentary feeling of dopamine release. Kicking the cravings can be about finding out about what makes you feel good in all other areas of life.
If you're finding it hard to kick a habit, ask yourself what am I really craving right now? And how can I fuel it?
Need some help to figure out what it is you're craving, check out our 5 ways to add more mindfulness into your day.