Cravings Cheat Sheet and What They Mean
Often times our cravings can mean we are deficient in a particular vitamin or mineral. Or it could just mean that we REALLY like chocolate. 😉
Either way I have created a healthier eating cheat sheet for you. Let me preface this with the fact that what some people think is healthy may vary from what others believe to be healthy. This is just my list of some healthier than super processed foods you may want to consume when those cravings kick in but you still want to stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
First let’s start with what your cravings may mean…
If you are these things your body may need the following nutrients:
- Chocolate: magnesium
- Sweets: chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and/or tryptophan
- Bread: nitrogen
- Oily snacks or fatty foods: calcium
- Coffee or tea: phosphorus, sulfur, NaCl(salt), Iron
- Soda: calcium
- Salty foods: chloride, silicon
- Pre-menstrual cravings: zinc
- General overeating: silicon, tryptophan tyrosine
The following “Cravings Cheat Sheet” includes some foods high in the nutrients your body may be missing depending on what you are craving.
Your Cravings Cheat Sheet:
This is a list of items you may be craving along with foods high in the nutrient you may be deficient in. And if that doesn’t work, I added some foods that are just plain yummy but shouldn’t throw you off your health and fitness goals as long as you eat them in moderation. 😉
- Chocolate: You may be low in magnesium. Nuts like cashews and almonds (think almond butter!) are a great source of magnesium as well as seeds, veggies and fruits like bananas and avocados. The cocoa bean is high in magnesium which may be why you are craving it. I eat some form of chocolate almost every day and you can read more about that here. You can also find some great clean and healthier recipes on my sweets recipe page. My all time favorite are these brownies but a less tedious recipe that’s packed with protein are my protein brownies that I eat pretty much daily. Want a double dose of magnesium? Try this avocado based chocolate pudding.
- Sweets: If you are craving sweets you might want to try eating cruciferous veggies (like broccoli or cabbage), legumes, fruits (like grapes or raisins), spinach or nuts. But if these basic healthy foods aren’t helping, you could just eat some healthier sweets. Some of my favorites are these Pumpkin Breakfast (or anytime) Muffins, these healthier raw faux cheesecake bars, or my healthier almond butter cups. All of these and more are listed on my sweets recipe page.
- Bread: Craving bread may mean a nitrogen deficiency. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale may be helpful or a healthy granola made of seeds and nuts. If your bread craving comes from the smell of the local bakery as you drive by you may want to try some of my favorite bread recipes from this page. This banana bread recipe topped with homemade almond butter hits the spot when I’m in the mood for gluten free comfort food. If you are not gluten free then a slice or 2 of homemade whole wheat bread is a perfect post workout snack with some pasture raised turkey lunch meat. If you don’t have time to make your own bread the Ezekiel Sprouted is a good alternative although it’s much drier than “regular bread”, but in my opinion nothing beats home made.
- Pasta: if you are craving pasta it may mean the same nitrogen deficiency as bread, so see above for foods high in nitrogen. If I’m really wanting some pasta I either turn to organic whole wheat pasta or gluten free brown rice pasta. I don’t often eat it but when I do I really like the Tinkyada brand of organic brown rice penne from Thrive Market. Just 2 ounces of pasta can be around 44grams of carbohydrates, so I usually save pasta for a post workout meal. I LOVE it with the homemade pasta sauce my hubby has perfected.
- Oily Fatty Foods: This may mean a deficiency in calcium. A quality organic cheese or grass fed organic Greek yogurt may be a good choice. Some other surprising sources of calcium are broccoli, asparagus, kale, bok choy, figs, dates and plums. If you are still craving fatty foods you might want to try some high fat grass fed meats. I just love a good grass fed beef roast with cabbage and carrots. Consider cooking up some grass fed steaks or burgers on the grill. This Beef Quinoa Bake not only has yummy grass fed beef but includes calcium rich spinach and topped with cheese. If you are feeling really brave and don’t mind working with liver you might want to try these Rosemary Live Burgers. Nick’s Sticks are another go to when I’m wanting some quality protein on the go.
- Coffee or Tea: These cravings may mean you are deficient in phosphorus, sulfur, NaCl(salt), iron. You could snack on anything from veggies and nuts to celery or seaweed crisp, or you could just drink a cup of organic coffee or your favorite tea. I have a list of my favorite teas that I buy from Thrive Market on My Favorite Thrive Market Finds page. I absolute love tea (and I know most people have a love affair with coffee as well). While it’s good to make sure I’m not deficient in the above mentioned vitamins and minerals, that doesn’t mean I need so skip a cup or 2 of tea. 😉
- Soda: Cravings for soda may mean a deficiency in calcium. See above for oily fatty food cravings to see what foods are high in calcium. If you are still craving that bubbly sugar filled drink after eating some calcium rich foods you may want to try some alternative drinks. I mostly drink water or tea but one fantastic alternative to soda is kombucha. While you still need to read the labels to see sugar content it’s a wonderful alternative when trying to kick a soda habit. I rarely drink it but on special occasions I get my favorite kombucha at Target (affiliate link *see notes below). Kombucha not only has a little fizz which is similar to the feel of soda but it’s also full of healthy probiotics.
- Salty Foods: A salty food craving may mean a deficiency of chloride which may be nixed with celery, tomatoes, lettuce or seaweed. It could also mean a silicon deficiency which could be replenished with cashews, nuts and seeds. Roasted veggies or sweet potatoes with sea salt are some of my favorite super healthy alternatives when my salty craving hits. However, if my “need” for chips or popcorn continues these are some of my favorite healthier snacks. Nick’s Sticks are one of my favorite healthy high protein snacks. They have both turkey and beef options. They are nitrate and processed sugar free and taste great! Jackson Honest Chips are my all time favorite chips and the only chip I know of that uses unrefined coconut oil and minimal ingredients. My favorite are the sweet potato (but they make a white potato chip if you are not a fan of sweet), and their yellow corn chips. Yum! And if I don’t have time to pop organic popcorn on the stove my favorite bag popcorn is Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt Popcorn made with organic corn, coconut oil and Himalayan salt. I get my chips AND popcorn at Thrive Market.
- Pre-menstrual cravings: I have a whole post about that time of the month and surviving the cravings while trying to be healthy and fit, but the short answer is you may be deficient in zinc. Food like pumpkin seeds, leafy greens and root vegetables are high in zinc and may be helpful to squash the cravings. If you are craving chocolate like I do or salty snacks just check out the above suggestions or my sweets or snacks recipe page.
Just for good measure here are some more healthy recipes I turn to (that I haven’t mentioned yet) when I’m wanting a treat that’s healthier than grabbing that king sized candy bar or fake butter microwaved popcorn.
- Kale Chips! Ha! I know what some of you may be thinking. Bleck! They are called “chips” so you will eat the gross kale. I too have never been a huge fan of most kale chips, but these are the best I’ve ever had! I love them! So don’t knock ’em till you’ve tried them. 😉
- Toasted Cinnamon Chips: These are a perfect sweet and salty treat to top your oatmeal, add to homemade trail mix or granola, or just eat as is.
- Protein Packed Chocolate Zucchini Bread: This recipe is a favorite of mine… and my kiddos. I love that it’s so healthy that I’ve fed it to my kids for lunch without feeling guilty. You get the comforting sweet taste of chocolate oat bread but with a protein punch and without all the sugar of “regular zucchini bread”.
- Protein Chocolate Almond Butter Cups: These are a special treat in our house because although they have no white sugar they have a bit of maple syrup which can still spike insulin levels. but they are way healthier than any store bought peanut butter cup I’ve ever found. So enjoy a cup or 2 and put the rest in the freezer if you are as tempted as I am to finish off the whole batch in one sitting. 😉 I have 2 options for different protein ingredients so you have a dairy free option if needed.
I hope this post was helpful. Feel free to ask questions or comment in the section below!
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