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What your food cravings are trying to tell you

Stop being a slave to the crave

By ELLE team  March 29th, 2018

Sure, we all get the urge to grab that vada pav on the go. Maybe just one scoop of ice cream post meal to get everything settled? But it’s when you find yourself actively searching for a sugar fix at 4 pm on Monday when you know that chocolate probably won’t cut it. “Food cravings can be associated with nutritional deficiencies, imbalances, dehydration and a lot more. These cravings tend to change with your mood swings, situation or a time,” warns Nmami Agarwal, nutritionist to reigning Miss world Manushi Chillar.

Nmami has a few tips to help you manage your cravings, which she shares along with diet substitutes that will help sort your cravings out all together.

– A no is better than crying over spilt milk – It’s okay to leave that last slice of cheesecake or a pizza. We all can learn the power of no while preparing our brain that we don’t require any more food. Because that one denial is going to take us a long way.

– Learn to divert – Opt for a small walk or indulge yourself in your favourite pass time/ hobby during those ever-changing mood swings. This will shift your energy in an entirely different direction helping you to stay away from cravings.

– Listen to your gut – You must listen to your inner feelings that you can skip that exotic cheesy recipe and stick only to the healthy course.

So instead of justifying a bag of chips with yoga, balance your diet so that you can curb and control your food cravings.

What your food cravings are trying to tell you:

French fries, chicken nuggets and bhajias

What you want: Saturated and trans-fats

What your body needs: Calcium and healthy fat

Think your addiction to deep-fried potato goodness is under control? Probably not. Craving deep fried foods whether they are samosas, vada pav or jalapeno poppers are a red light from your body. It means you have a fatty acid deficiency. But all these empty calories aren’t going to give your body the nutrition it needs. "This immediate urge can be reduced by supplementing your diet with rich sources of calcium and healthy fats," says Nmami. Instead, go for foods like ghee, avocado, salmon, tofu, yogurt and flax seeds that reduce the amount of harmful cholesterol in the bloodstream.


Popcorn, potato chips

What you want: Salted goodness

What your body needs: Trace Minerals (chloride/ sodium/silicon)  

Think all party snacks. If you’re craving a bag of chips ASAP, chances are what you’re really craving is the salt so liberally sprinkled on them. "Craving savoury snacks usually means your body is going through some sort of electrolyte imbalance, stress or extreme dehydration". The body craves salt when stressed or depressed as salt consumption reduces the levels of cortisol, the body's stress hormone. But this short-term fix can lead to long-term bloating and binging. "The easiest way to pump up salt in our body is making healthy choices to replenish our bodies with natural or infused water (lemon/cucumber and mint), hummus and carrots, barley, oats and dried foods," are a few substitutes Agarwal recommends.  

Pasta, pizza and Biryani

What you want: Carbohydrates
What your body needs: chromium and fiber

There’s nothing wrong with carbs but when white bread, crackers and packet noodles are on your mind, it could be an indication of insulin resistance…or maybe you’re hungover. But if you’re not, you may want to include more chromium and magnesium-rich fruits and veggies like bananas, broccoli, apples and celery in your diet. Not to mention that added fibre could improve blood sugar control.

Sweets, candy, mithai

What you want: Gulab Jamun (glucose)
What your body needs: sulfur, chromium, and magnesium

Sugar is one of the most common cravings and your biggest enemy. If you think skipping dinner to eat that extra scoop of ice cream means balance, it doesn’t. In fact, it could mean there’s an imbalance in your blood sugar levels. Eating refined sugar causes you to crave more sugar rather than fixing the problem. "A small candy bar or soda drink will spike our blood sugar levels, disrupt the brain functioning leading to obesity and weight gain in the long term. To avoid such situations and balance out blood sugar levels, you must give your body a diet packed with chromium and magnesium," warns Nmami. Whole grains, figs, bananas, asparagus and sweet potatoes to fix your sugar cravings.


What you want: All the chocolate AKA Energy to help with those mood swings.

What your body needs: Magnesium and chromium

Who wouldn’t want a chocolate deficiency? Unfortunately that slice of cake isn’t what you need, it’s the magnesium which cocoa is rich in."Craving chocolate is often associated with feeling depressed or handling PMS." The good news is raw dark chocolate can still be a treat in moderation. But our nutrition expert Nmami advises a diet rich in dark green veggies such as spinach, broccoli, green beans, avocados and pumpkin seeds to stave off the cravings all together.

Coffee or aerated drinks

What you want: Caffeine

What your body needs: Phosphorus and sulphur

There’s nothing more sacred that that first cup of coffee that hits the ‘on’ switch in your brain each day. But if you’re craving coffee or soda constantly, you may need more than a little pick me up. "It’s time to kick-start your day with phosphorous and sulfur-rich crunchy nuts such as walnuts, almonds or a green breakfast rich with spinach/broccoli and kale" urges our expert. Nmami even suggests blending them in a smoothie with yoghurt. This will keep you more energised in the long run unlike caffeine which only postpones that inevitable burnout. Improve your energy levels and cut your caffeine intake with this move.