The desire for cake and chocolate can send office staff into a frenzy in the late afternoon. A food craving is an intense longing for a specific food and majority of us have them. Research has shown particular hankerings may have something to say about our health. Here are some of the most common food cravings and what they mean according to science.
Chocolate cravings have been linked to depression. Evidence shows that a Cadbury bar elevates dopamine and serotonin in the brain which lifts mood. Chocolate also contains theobromine and magnesium which promote relaxation. Try replacing chocolate with almonds which are also high in magnesium or stick to a few pieces of dark chocolate which give a boost with less calories.
Savoury tooths may crave fried foods such as chips, pizza or hamburgers. There’s research to show that if you’re a chipster you may be lacking in healthy fats. Fryday may become more appealing because you hanker for oils of any description. Try eating more fatty fish such as salmon to curb this desire for unhealthy oils or more avocado and nuts.
If you long for a spicy curry or salsa then one theory suggests that you may need to lower your body temperature. Eating hot foods temporarily increases metabolism causing sweat that cools you down. Try replacing spicy meals with foods that have a high-water content such as celery or watermelon. Also, drink more fluids.
Cheese is a comfort food that puts everyone in a gouda mood. A constant longing for cheese may indicate you’re feeling stressed. Tryptophan is a compound that’s found in high levels in cheese. It improves our disposition and assists concentration and memory. People with ADHD are twice as likely to crave cheese. Try mixing cheese with wholegrain crackers or other salad vegetables to reduce the quantity.
Lollies are one of the most common cravings people experience. Research shows that pining for sweets may indicate you need more sleep. People often use sugar as a quick fix for low energy levels and fatigue. Deficiency in blood sugar levels may also be a factor. Fruit is a great replacement for lollies. Or try a few more hours of shut-eye.
The key to overcoming your cravings is to identify triggers. If late afternoon is your weakness, then try and schedule in a walk or a phone call to a friend that creates enjoyment. Food memory can also create a pattern where you’re so used to having a coffee and a biscuit at 3pm that it becomes deeply entrenched.
If you can delay a craving by just 20 minutes, then the chances of it happening are significantly reduced. Out of control cravings may be a sign that you have a hormonal imbalance or a true nutrient deficiency. Consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian if this is the case. Otherwise, it may be time to pine for something that isn’t edible.