Indulging in food is something we all do when feeling tired, stressed or sad. The usual comfort foods are chips, coffee and chocolate but in actual fact, your body might need something else entirely.
“Food cravings can occur when certain chemicals within the body are low”, explains Julie Masci, Dietitian and Director at New Life Nutrition.
“Cravings can be managed by knowing which foods will provide the chemicals your body needs”.
1. If you’re craving chips
The humble potato chip is an Aussie classic, particularly for those of us who prefer savoury foods. Although, reaching for one packet too many can be damaging for our overall health.
“If you’re craving potato chips, you may actually be dehydrated and need salt”, says Masci. This is because sodium, the primary substance in salt, helps retain moisture in tissues and organs.
Drinking plenty of water is the solution. Alternatively, try beverages that are rehydrating such as green tea and vegetable juice.
Ensuring you are properly hydrated also means you’ll feel less tired, and have more energy.
2. If you’re craving coffee
Many Australians use coffee to combat tiredness and lethargy.
“Drinking coffee without refined sugars is not necessarily a bad habit, but if you are frequently craving coffee then your body may lack iron”, says Masci.
Iron deficiencies can leave us feeling tired or sluggish, as there are fewer red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
For an alternative beverage that still boasts plenty of iron, try drinking a green smoothie or even some prune juice.
3. If you’re craving chocolate
Chocolate is arguably the most common food to crave, partly because it boosts hormones associated with feelings of well-being and contentment.
“Chocolate contains plant components, called flavonoids, that naturally increase serotonin and endorphin levels within the brain”, says Masci.
Fortunately, chocolate is not the only food laden with flavonoids. “Strawberries owe their bright red colour to flavonoids, and (so do) tree fruits such as pears”, says Masci.
“Food cravings can also stem from stresses in your daily life, so consider taking a walk to refocus your body and mind when cravings hit”, concludes Masci.