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5 Surprising Things Your Food Cravings Are Trying to Tell You

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Ever been tucking the tots into bed when you get a fierce and deep craving for … salt and vinegar potato chips? Chewy chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk? A big sweet scoop of Rocky Road ice cream? Cravings like this happen to me … nightly. It’s had me wondering — are each of these cravings trying to tell me something specific? On the nights when I absolutely need ice cream, am I really filling some emotional emptiness? Am I bored? Am I being a big, willpowerless baby? I figured, if I could figure out why I was having specific food cravings, I might be able to stop myself from binging mid-afternoon, mid-evening, or in the middle of the night on the naughty stuff and really start satiating my bod with the nutrients it’s begging for.

These questions had me stumped, so I reached out to expert, Erika Herman, a board-certified nutritionist and author of Eat Like a Fatass, Look Like a Goddess: The Untold Story of Healthy Foods, she dishes on the details behind food that truly satiates, offering up the idea that cravings don’t mean we’re lacking in willpower, rather we’re lacking in the right sort of calories. Here’s her take on what your specific food cravings are really telling you, and how to fix those cravings without getting fat.

Why Do We Get Cravings?

Erika says: Cravings are generally a sign of unmet nutritional needs. Read: we’re walking around dyin’ for satiety, yo! The majority of the time, when cravings hit, it’s because we’re not eating enough of the most satiating food-part around: healthy fat. Too little fat means means we’re eating too much starch and sugar (keep in mind: starch turns into sugar in the body). With all the fat-fearing low-fat calorie-counting recommendations we’re inundated with on a daily basis, we’re primed to feel imbalanced, like we can’t tell the difference between our bodies’ cravings and needs.

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What Does It Mean When You’re Craving…?

 

ICE CREAM

What’s your body telling you?

  • I’m not eating enough fat, and I’m eating too much starchy, sugary foods! Possibly: I want nourishing fatty acids specific to dairy (research has demonstrated these are integral for female hormone regulation and healthy menstruation). Possibly: I want the most bioavailable calcium (which comes from full-fat dairy).

Eat this instead:

  • Full-fat cheese. Some full-fat plain yogurt or kefir with a handful of berries, sweeten with stevia if you want any added sweetener. Of course, if you really-really want some ice cream, do so AFTER a satiating fat-rich meal (you’ll be so satisfied you won’t be acting from cravings), then opt for FULL-FAT ice cream or gelato — none of that low-fat or non-fat crap (no fro-yo, no sorbet). High fat foods have been shown to satiate better high-carb eats. Indulge in high fat treats, feel fuller, and you’ll less likely to overeat.

COOKIES

What’s your body telling you?

  • I’m not eating enough fat, and I’m eating too much starchy, sugary foods!

Eat this instead:

  • Some dark chocolate 80% cocoa and above. Or you can get my recipes for totally waist-friendly delicious desserts at my website!

 

CHOCOLATE

What’s your body telling you?

  • There ain’t nothin’ wrong with craving chocolate! Just avoid sugar-laden milk chocolate. Your body may also need iron.

Eat this instead:

  • 80%+ dark chocolate. Or eat red meat from grass-fed/pastured sources (for ideally-sourced iron).

 

POTATO CHIPS

What’s your body telling you?

  • I’m not eating enough fat, and I’m eating too much starchy, sugary foods!

Eat this instead:

  • Make some zucchini chips, or lotus root chips, fried in coconut oil or pasture butter (yes, this is weight-loss-friendly!). Or eat zucchini or yellow crookneck squash sauteed in coconut oil or pasture butter, and melt cheese on top. If you’re eating out, ask for a side of veggies with high-flavor, high-protein parmesan cheese (most restaurants have this) and you’ll give your tastebuds what they’re begging for, with the nutrients your body needs.

 

CANDY

What’s your body telling you?

  • I’m not eating enough fat, and I’m eating too much starchy, sugary foods!

Eat this instead:

  • Chocolate. Or any of the above.

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Sooo, How Do We Kick the Cravings?

Erika says: In my book, Eat Like a Fatass, Look Like a Goddess: The Untold Story of Healthy Foods, I dish about the fallacy of calorie-counting, and fat’s near-miraculous capacity to satiate by turning ‘off’ the hunger button in the brain for long periods of time (we’re talking hours on end!). Protein satiates pretty quickly too, but its effects are nowhere near as long as those of fat. (And no: fat doesn’t make you fat!)

On the other hand, sugary or higher-starch carbohydrates (yes, even from ‘natural’ sources like whole grains and fruits) spike blood sugar and insulin levels, turning ‘on’ the hunger button in the brain, leading to cravings, blood sugar highs and lows, recurrent feelings of hunger — for even more of these triggering foods, and a tendency to gain and store fat (especially around the midsection). What’s more, anything ‘sweet’ triggers a response in the reward center of our brains–the same pleasure center that contributes to cocaine addiction. This can kick off cravings, make us want to eat more to get more pleasure, even if we’re not physically hungry anymore. Wow, right?!

Basically, crazy food cravings generally mean we’re not truly satiating our bodies with the kinds of foods that really, truly satiate it. On a biochemical level cravings-busting satiety simply isn’t going to happen from whole grains, legumes, beans, fruits, loads of fiber, etc. — because it can’t. We need fat to help with this. Constant cravings are no wonder because we’re told left and right to eat low-fat, even though science doesn’t support these warnings.

Cravings generally don’t need to be tackled with willpower — in fact, that approach may be one of the more inefficient, unsuccessful, and miserable approaches. When we know how to eat, trigger foods lose their power. Neutralize the allure of trigger foods by implementing easy-to-follow and delicious strategies.

 

goddessErika Herman is a board-certified Nutritionist, Holistic Health Expert, and bestselling author of the provocative incisively-researched, Eat Like a Fatass, Look Like a Goddess: The Untold Story of Healthy Foods, and creator of The 28-Day Goddess Lifestyle Transformation program. Erika empowers people to sustainbly lose and maintain weight, prevent disease, feel vitalized and satisfied by guiding them to think critically so they can ditch BS-diet-bandwagons and eat the satiating taboo foods their bodies need. Erika debunks hype and misinformation with hardcore evidence-based research at every turn because she loves it as much as she loves food. Erika and her work have been featured in the likes of Redbook, Yahoo!, Natural News, SheKnows, SkinnyMom, Veria Living, The Daily Meal, Elephant Journal, Mamavation and Intent. Learn more about Erika, her book, and program at EatLikeAGoddessBook.com.

 

Article Posted 4 years Ago

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