Warm, fudgy chocolate cake.
Melt-in-your-mouth fettuccine alfredo.
An icy flute of champagne.
Gee, thanks a lot, MDA.
Whether it’s for garlic knots or a tuna melt, the temptation to indulge in delicious but unhealthy fare catches up with even the most disciplined among us from time to time. (Except Mark. He’s immune. It just took a lot of ice cream to develop.)
The body tends to crave what it is used to, which is why breaking out of the chips ‘n cookie regimen foils so many folks. There is a silver lining, however: given enough practice, you’ll actually miss brussels sprouts and feel sickened by ice cream. You just have to habituate your body. Many times, “cravings” that we experience are not indicators of any real nutritional need the body has, but simply a powerful psychological response to a habit gone cruelly unfed.
That said, sometimes a strong craving for a certain food (coughchocolatecough) can signal that you may be in need of a particular nutrient. Mark’s Daily Apple to the rescue: when you feel the urge to nosh on something you just know you shouldn’t, there’s guaranteed to be a healthy alternative. Take charge of those cravings and make them work for you, not against you!
When you are just about ready to kill for:
Salty foods like chips and pizza – you may just need some tryptophan or chloride. Try organic cheese, unsalted cottage cheese, fish, sweet potatoes (or yams), spinach, and authentic sea salt.
Doeth Flickr Photo (CC)
Chocolate – you may be in need of magnesium. Instead, eat…chocolate! Yes! (Or nuts. But chocolate is actually healthy, if it’s dark and eaten in small doses.)
Sarah Reed Flickr Photo (CC)
Sugary snacks and starches such as donuts and bread – you might be dehydrated. Drink some water and get a little nutritional acid by way of a piece of fruit, such as an apple.
Aquave1vet’s Flickr Photo (CC)
Carbonated beverages – you might need to up your mineral intake. Try spinach, kale, collard greens, and legumes.
Kevin Donahue Flickr Photo (CC)
Fatty foods – some sources will tell you to drink water and eat fruit, but we say eat that fat! Fat is nutritious: it aids digestion, improves vitamin absorption, and can even boost brain health. Just watch the salt. Good fats: fish, olive oil, nuts, butter, cream, eggs.
In Praise of Sardines’ Flickr Photo (CC)
Are you overeating or feeling general cravings? You may need tyrosine, found in citrus fruits. You might also be in need of a shot of zinc, so have a grass-fed steak or shellfish such as shrimp or oysters.
Jim Moran Flickr Photo (CC)
Craving candy? You may need sulfur, you inflammatory little nugget, you. Try garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or brussels sprouts. And pineapple works wonders.
Esteban Cavrico Flickr Photo (CC)
Outsmart your body. You are the alpha, so you best be dog whisperin’ those wacky cravings!
Whether your specific craving signals a nutritional deficiency, hormonal imbalance, or simply a pesky bad habit you went and taught yourself, choosing healthy alternatives will satisfy your body’s needs and retrain your brain to get excited about things like lettuce. Which really isn’t so bad, now, is it? As Mark always says, vegetables don’t meow, people.
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