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