What Cravings Are Telling You

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What Cravings Are Telling You

A craving—an intense desire for a certain food—is believed to be a signal sent by the body for specific food because of the nutrients that it provides. A craving for chocolate, for example, would signal a physiologic need for more antioxidants. However, a bowl of red beans, which are higher in antioxidants than chocolate, would better meet that supposed physiological need: however, red beans are low on the craving scale.  Despite their bad reputation in fad-diet culture, cravings can actually be a good sign. It is your body reminding you of what it needs. Eating every 3 to 4 hours can help to fuel a healthy metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent between-meal hunger that leads to unwise snacking. Eating just enough, but not too much, helps to curb cravings. Eating light will also prevent you from feeling sluggish. You will feel better and be more focused when you have the right amount of fuel in your system on a regular basis. For maximum energy, also make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water!

Here’s a guide for healthy ways to respond to your cravings this week during finals:

  • “I’m craving chocolate!”

What you need: Magnesium (nuts, seeds, legumes, fruit)

Study snack: A handful of almonds, a small amount of dark chocolate, and fruits high in antioxidants such as blueberries or blackberries

  • “I want sugary foods.”

What you need: Chromium (broccoli, grapes, cheese, chicken), Carbon (fresh fruit), Phosphorous (chicken, beef, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, grains), Sulfur (cranberries, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage), and Tryptophan (cheese, raisins, sweet potato, spinach)

Study snack: Grapes and low fat cheese or a poached egg on top of a sweet potato pancake

  • “I need carbs! Bring on the bread and pasta.”

What you need:  Nitrogen (high protein foods such as meat, nuts, fish, and beans)

Study snack: Bean dip with cucumber, celery, or carrot sticks

  • “I’ve got to have oily, high fat foods.”

What you need: Calcium (milk, cheese, yogurt, legumes, broccoli, green leafy vegetables)

Study snack: V8 juice, Greek yogurt, or broccoli dipped in hummus

  • “Super salty food sounds perfect.”

What you need: Chloride (fish, goats milk)

Study snack: Smoked salmon and goat cheese on whole-wheat crackers

How to Build a Healthier Sandwich

build_healthier_sandwich

I have a theory.

My theory is that food tastes best when you take a big bite full of different textures and flavors all at one time. You see I’m not much of a nibbler, which probably explains why I love sandwiches so much. You get crunchy, creamy, sweet, and salty all in one epic bite. On top of that, there’s nothing complicated when it comes to sandwiches, except for maybe how difficult it was for me to spell the word growing up…sandwitches? sandwhiches? It took me a while to get that part right.

Even though building these beauties is simple, sometimes it can be tricky knowing how to build sandwiches that are healthy. Follow some of these tips and I guarantee you’ll want to make a sandwich your new simple go-to meal.

Step 1: The Bread

Like all great masterpieces, we must begin with the foundation. White breads spike blood sugar levels and lack protein, fiber, and essential B vitamins that give your body energy.  Try some of these whole grain options that are both nutritious and filling:

  • Whole wheat baguette
  • Whole wheat English muffins
  • Whole grain pita bread
  • Rye
  • Pumpernickle bread
  • Whole wheat Ciabatta

Quick tip! Scoop out the inside of thick crusty bread, such as a baguette and Ciabatta, to remove some calories. You can use the bread to make breadcrumbs by blending it in a food processor and baking it in the oven at 300°F until brown.

Step 2: The Moist Maker (aka Spreads)

Here’s where the calories can really start to sneak up on you! Many of us spread thick layers of oil-based spreads to add moistness to our sandwiches. What if I told you that the moist factor could be achieved without adding excessive calories?

Add a light layer of spreads like mayonnaise, Aioli, and creamy dressings on one side of your bread.  By adding a thin layer, you will experience the full flavor without piling on the calories. Keep in mind only one tablespoon of mayonnaise has 94 calories and 10g of fat!

Feel free to add more of your favorite low calorie spread. Try some of these delicious options:

  • Hummus
  • BBQ sauce
  • Mustard such as Dijon, honey, spicy, etc.
  • Avocado or guacamole

Don’t want to use spreads, but still want to add flavor? Toss your veggies in your favorite salad dressing and add it to your sandwich.

Step 3: Cheese

Look for your favorite cheese made from skim or part-skim milk, which has less calories and saturated fat. Use just one thin slice!

Step 4: Vegetables

This is where you can experiment with your favorite veggies! It’s also the perfect chance to try new vegetables you’ve seen at the farmers market. It’s more than just lettuce and tomatoes now…here are my personal favorites:

  • Spring mix
  • Arugula
  • Caramelized onions
  • Avocados
  • Roasted peppers
  • Alfalfa Sprouts
  • Cucumbers
  • Beets
  • Pickled vegetables

Step 5: Protein

Some things to consider when looking for meat:

  • Look for meats naturally low in fat and saturated fat.
  • Aim for less than 500 mg of sodium per serving. Some processed meats are very salty.
  • Choose deli meats free of nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives.

Try some of these:

  • Turkey
  • Roast Beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Chicken, tuna, or egg salad made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise.
  • Eggplant
  • Tofu: made from soybeans and is subtle in flavors so it will easily absorb any spices or marinades.
  • Tempeh: made from fermented soybeans and has a unique flavor different from tofu. It has a great chewy texture and it is packed with protein and fiber.

You can also make it without meat and pile on hummus and more veggies!

The last step is slicing it diagonally… it makes the sandwich infinitely better.

Ask a Dietitian! We are compiling a list of nutrition-related questions readers have for a special post in September. Simply fill out your name, email, and question in the feedback form below.