listen TO YOUR BODY!!! food CRAVINGS!!

You make a choice that affects your health every time you’re in the kitchen, at the grocery store, or even at work. Are your decisions as fit as they can be?
Sometimes you have to look deeper into these cravings. Why does it seem that we are always craving foods that are bad for us? When our bodies crave something, we often seek out foods that satisfy our food cravings to the extreme, whether it be salt, sugar, carbohydrates, or caffeine. Have you ever been told to listen to your body? When it craves a certain food or nutrient, it often points to something real going on in your body that should be addressed. Here are the answers to your questions about food cravings, plus a look at thefive foods we crave the most.

Chocolate

According to the Journal of Nutrition, chocolate is the most widely craved food in America. Most people have a taste for chocolate, which helps, but chocolate also contains key ingredients that may be linked to why we crave it so much. For instance, many people seem to crave chocolate when they are stressed or feeling down. Chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac stems from its phenylethylamine content, which regulates the body’s release of endorphins. Endorphins are natural mood lifters and often have a calming effect when the body is stressed. Chocolate also contains traces of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a substance found in marijuana. THCreacts with cells in the brain to release dopamine, one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the release of endorphins. The “high” from marijuana is therefore replicated to a much lesser degree when eating chocolate. In addition to its “feel good” qualities, chocolate contains large amounts of iron, a mineral that can be depleted during a woman’s menstruation cycle.  If you just have to get that chocolate fix, try dark chocolate to reap its antioxidant benefits!

Another way I  deal with my chocolate craving is using my Herbalife chocolate protein powder and making yummy treats out of it! Refer to my recipe tab for those delicious BITES

Salt

Salt, which most people associate with potato chips or French fries, is another commonly craved food. Like chocolate, some people are drawn to salty foods over other types, which can contribute to the nature of their food cravings. Some experts believe that Americans are so accustomed to a high-sodium diet, that they go into salt “withdrawal” when their eating habits change. This dietary change can be a real shock to one’s system, particularly for those who are dieting or have very low-sodium intake. Slowly cutting back on salt, rather than completely cutting it out of your diet, is a more effective way to reduce your intake of sodium. Finally, a desire for salt may simply be a result of dehydration, the process by which your body loses water, electrolytes and salt. The best way to fight dehydration is by drinking more water and by replacing the lost salt. Many sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade provide the necessary nutrients for hydration, especially after an intense workout. Sudden, excessive cravings for salt can also be a sign of some serious health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and sickle cell anemia. If you experience symptoms of any of these diseases, you should consult your physician immediately.
Carbohydrates
A craving for carbohydrates usually results in the consumption of refined carbohydrates, which are made from refined sugars and white flour. Consuming these items cause a rapid increase in your body’s blood-sugar levels. Not surprisingly, carb cravings often occur in the mid-afternoon, when your energy stores are at their lowest. While a high-carb snack will give you more energy, it will also cause a sudden drop in energy, which will encourage even more unhealthy snacking. Many carbohydrates are also referred to as “comfort foods,” which people associate with pleasant feelings. When you need a jolt of energy or a mood enhancement, it is natural to turn to the foods that have created those feelings in the past. Instead of reaching for a bag of pretzels or a few (or maybe more) of your favorite cookies, eat a handful of nuts and dried fruit or yogurt to give you the energy you need. The fiber in the nuts will help you to feel full for longer, while the low-glycemic fruit will help to stabilize your blood sugar so that your energy stores aren’t depleted as quickly. Adding a source of protein like yogurt, which takes longer to digest, can also slow down your body’s response to the carbohydrates.

Caffeine

Do you reach for a caffeine fix every time you’re feeling tired? Those who have serious cravings for caffeine throughout the day are most likely suffering from an addiction to caffeine. Caffeine stimulates activity in the brain, which in turn, causes the release of the hormone adrenaline. Despite achieving the desired effect, after the dose of caffeine wears off, it often creates a craving for additional caffeine to recreate the effect. There are healthier, more effective ways of preventing fatigue throughout the day. First, make sure you are getting enough sleep! Second, exercise daily. Although many people mistakenly think that they will be more tired by exercising, they are actually wrong. Overall, exercise will increase your energy level and will enable you to overcome your food cravings. Lastly, make sure you eat a healthy snack that is high in protein and whole grains every few hours to maintain your energy.
Fat
When most of us crave fat, we don’t reach for a packet of nuts or a spoonful of flaxseed oil. Instead, we look for sources of saturated fats, such as potato chips, or snacks that satisfy our sweet tooth and our fat craving. Essential fatty acids are healthy fats that contain vitamins A, D and E, which your body uses for healthy skin, hair and nails. Because most Americans eat a diet that is lacking in these essential fats and oils, your body may crave them regularly. Unfortunately, when you respond by eating saturated fats, your body will continue to crave the fat it really needs. Fat also adds flavor and variety to our foods, which can be obtained by adding other healthy foods to your dishes. The next time you’re craving fat, try eating nuts or seeds, nut butters ,avocados, or salmon and tuna. As a healthy substitute for vegetable oil, use olive oil when cooking.
******Food cravings are natural and unavoidable. However, they don’t need to be detrimental to your health if you respond to them appropriately. Stop and think about the real reasons behind your cravings and find solutions that will satisfy them and, at the same time, improve your health. Listen to your body, but don’t let it control you!!!!!
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