Crazy food cravings can come seemingly out of nowhere. But scientifically, they can have deep underlying causes. Cravings are different from hunger pangs in that you get hungry when your stomach needs more sustenance, whereas cravings come from your brain. While more scientific research needs to be done on the subject, some scientists think food cravings can spring from underlying emotional and nutritional needs.
So next time you have a hankering for potato chips or a can of soda, consider the messages your body may be trying to send you. While these indications might not necessarily be a cause for concern, they can be helpful in determining how to handle them in a healthy way. Try looking for healthy substitutes that will satisfy the craving without negatively impacting your eating habits.
If you’re seeking sweets, a serving of fresh, in-season fruit is always a great choice. If you’re specifically craving chocolate, try savoring a single square of dark chocolate instead of turning to chocolate ice cream or cake. If you regularly crave soda or fizzy drinks, replace them with some iced tea sweetened with a touch of honey or a can of naturally flavored, unsweetened carbonated water.
If you want something salty or savory, you’ve got plenty of healthy alternatives to turn to. If it’s that crunch you’re after, stock your snack drawer with cut veggies and hummus or guacamole for dipping. Cheese lovers should reach for healthy sources of fat, like walnuts, almonds, avocados or salmon. If you crave the salty crunch of popcorn or potato chips, give homemade kale chips a shot — just be sure to go easy on the salt. If you can’t get enough French fries, try making your own healthy oven-baked fries using nutrient-rich sweet potatoes and a light coating of olive oil.
If you find yourself craving the kick of strong coffee, try brewing up some green tea, which is packed with antioxidants and will give you a mellower version of that caffeine buzz.
For more ways to kick whatever craving you’ve got, consult the expert dietitians at Goshen Health.