Why You Crave the Things You Crave and What You Should Eat Instead

Why You Crave the Things You Crave and What You Should Eat Instead

The truth behind your cravings and realistic, healthier options (not just salad).

Let me be the first to say I am not a doctor. That being said, I am a girl who has a lot of cravings. Scientists say our bodies crave food for different reasons. Sometimes we're stressed or looking for gratification to the pleasure centers of our brain, but other times our bodies are trying to tell us something. Whenever I crave food, I've found its usually my body trying to tell me that it needs something (unless I have two papers due and a midterm the next day, then I know I'm stressed).

Next time you're craving something -- unless you're just stressed -- try listening to what your body is trying to tell you.

When you crave chocolate...

Why do you crave it?

When you crave chocolate often times your body needs magnesium. If you drink lots of soda, the phosphorus in it binds with the magnesium in your diet and flushes it out of your system. Similarly, eating lots of desserts and sweet food containing refined sugar causes your body to flush magnesium out of your body. You need magnesium for over 300 chemical reactions in your body including reactions involved in cardiovascular health, bone health, and energy.

What to eat instead of chocolate...
Instead of eating sugary, fatty milk chocolate, try dark chocolate. It has the magnesium you're craving without the refined sugar that is making you magnesium deficient. Other high magnesium foods include dark, leafy greens, beans, avocados, and bananas.

When you crave spicy foods...

Why do you crave it?
If you've ever noticed, the cultures that have spicy foods as part of their cuisines are generally from warmer climates (India, Mexico, South Africa, the Caribbean, etc.). Some think this is because eating spicy foods actually gets your body to cool down. This happens because your body sweats as a reaction to eating spicy food which ultimately cools you down. Sometimes we also crave spicy food when we're sick to clear our sinuses or because they release endorphins which can relieve pain and enhance your mood. Spicy food can also increase your metabolism (but craving it could indicate a thyroid imbalance).

What to eat instead of spicy foods...
Instead of eating Hot Cheetos that have little to no nutritional value (which is what I tend to grab), there a plenty of low-calorie options. Many taco sauces have little to no calories and are a great way to add some spice to your food.

When you crave salt...

Why do you crave it?
Craving salt often indicates an electrolyte imbalance. If you're not drinking enough water, or too much, your body can get confused and crave salt. I have this problem a lot because I always forget to drink enough water when I'm at work or in class and by the end of the day I'm craving salt. Salt cravings can also be a sign of adrenal stress (prolonged stress puts pressure on adrenal glands).

What to eat instead of salt...
Drink water! Making sure you're hydrated will help not only your salt cravings but will help keep you full and less tempted to indulge other cravings.

When you crave ice...

Why do you crave it?
According to many health professionals, craving ice could indicate anemia or iron deficiency but the reasoning is unclear. It could also mean you're dehydrated or need to cool down, but if you're craving ice frequently, you should see a doctor to make sure it's not anemia.

What to eat instead...
There is no harm in eating ice, but if it indicates anemia it could be serious. If eating red meat, spinach, leafy greens, beans, or other high-iron foods reduces your cravings for ice, then you definitely need to see a doctor.

When you crave vinegary food (pickles, salt and vinegar chips, sauerkraut)...

Why do you crave it?
Craving vinegary, acidic foods can indicate something is up with your stomach acid. If your stomach doesn't have enough acid, eating vinegary foods can trigger it to produce more. Low stomach acid can be caused my many things (including stress) and causes a variety of health problems like hair loss.

What to eat instead...
Eating unprocessed, wholesome food helps your stomach produce the proper amount of acid. Combining meat with citrus or vinegar can help make digestion easier on your stomach, reducing the imbalance of stomach acid.

When you crave carbs...

Why do you crave it?
When you're craving carbs, it can be your body's way of telling you that you need a quick energy source. Your blood sugar could be low and carbs are a quick way of raising it.

What to eat instead...
Eating more fiber can help stabilize your blood sugar so there are less fluctuations. Triscuits are a good carb that can satisfy your craving but also have lots of fiber. Nuts are another snack that help raise your blood sugar but aren't full of "empty calories" like white bread or pasta. I'll admit I indulge in carbs from time to time, but it isn't all bad as long as you have a balanced meal (i.e. pasta with vegetables and lean protein).

When you crave oily/fatty foods...

Why are you craving it?
Craving oily or fatty foods can be your body's way of telling you that you need more calcium. Your body does need fat to be able to function properly so it is important to not deprive it of that. Oily and fatty foods smell and taste good so the pleasure center of our brain is rewarded every time we eat them.

What to eat instead...
The last thing I want to eat when I'm craving oily, fatty food is dark, leafy greens. Everyone will tell you to eat foods high in calcium like that, but a more realistic option is to eat something like yogurt or cheese. There are plenty of dairy products that will give you calcium and other nutrients your body wants and are still healthy options.

Cover Image Credit: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/images/2010/3_tips_pulverize_cravings_d.jpg

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.


To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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A wake-up call.


"How they make you feel says a lot about them, and nothing about you.

Trust me when I say, someone who makes you question if you are worthy of being loved is not worthy of being loved by you."

- Bianca Sparacino

I saw the above quote in an Instagram post, and it really spoke volumes to me.

The importance of "knowing your worth" is something I always stress to people, but I've often found that I wasn't quite heeding my own advice. It often took a wake-up call for me to realize that. And that wake-up call would often lead to guilt. It would lead to staying up at an ungodly hour thinking things over, and about what I could have done differently. It would lead to constantly asking myself how I allowed things to continue the way I had. It would lead to self-blame, and I'd often start asking myself why I wasn't worth it.

But I am worth it.

And so are you.

And if that isn't being recognized, then it's time to pack up. Because you deserve better - whether that's increased effort, improved communication, whatever else you may (and damn well should) expect. And asking for any of that is not asking too much.

But this article isn't only about knowing your worth. It's about "knowing" in general. It's about anything in your life that needs to be figured out. There are going to be times in your life that you're stuck between two (or more) options, and you don't know which is the best one. Sometimes, weighing out the pros and the cons just doesn't cut it.

So, you may not know which way to go right now. And that's okay. You're not going to be 100% certain on everything right away. The important things take time. It's all in how you act once you figure things out for yourself. This goes for "knowing" anything. Knowing whether or not something should be pursued. Knowing when it's best to walk away. You name it.

But in figuring it out, don't make excuses for yourself and/or others. You don't know how anyone other than yourself is going to act/react in any scenario - nor will you ever. Assuming that you know everything about anyone/everyone involved is unfair and just overall wrong. So definitely keep that in mind before/while thinking out any potential outcomes.

If you're trying to reach a decision, do NOT simply choose the easy way out. How many times have you heard something along the lines of "the right choice isn't always the easy one?" News flash - it's not just a cheesy mantra. Almost nothing that's truly worth it is easy. If "I don't know" is looking to be a "no," that's okay. That's just how it is sometimes. But if that decision is being made purely because going the "yes" route would be more difficult, reevaluate.

And when you DO finally figure things out:

If you "know," do not proceed to act as if you don't. Don't let others continue to believe that you haven't reached a decision, especially those who are relevant to whatever you just figured out. And if you're asked about it, don't lie and say that you're still unsure. That could potentially be damaging to everyone involved, including yourself. Dishonesty is outright disrespectful, and it's unfair to you and those you are dishonest to. Think: how much do you really care if you're willing to lie? Did you ever really care at all?

When you figure out whatever you've been thinking over, be honest with yourself and all who are involved. Even if it's bad news. Yes, it will suck at first - but the truth always comes out one way or another, so it's best to acknowledge it early on. Especially if it's not an issue pertaining only to you. Dragging things out is the worst thing you could possibly do. You may be choosing to do so because you're worried about how the truth will impact him/her/them... well, I can guarantee you, based off personal experience, that every day you put it off will make your truth hurt a hundred times more. Please, give those who are involved in your particular situation the decency of honesty.

I don't know about you, but I hate uncertainty more than almost anything. It's scary, and often very frustrating. I avoid uncertainty at almost all costs, simply because I hate it so much. But I've put myself in situations of uncertainty if I truly saw potential. Has that come back to bite me in the ass? At times, absolutely. But each time, I learn a little more about myself. And I guess that's the point.

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