If you receive a craving for a big slab of chocolate cake, a big handful of salt and vinegar chips or bacon cheeseburger, you have received your bodies message that it needs something now. The good thing about cravings is that they are indicator of you what the body needs. The ironic part of it all is that your body is not actually telling you it wants a sky high banana split but rather that it is hungry for nutrients.

How to Satisfy Your Cravings Without the Pile of Calories

Craving salt – Body is dehydrated or looking for minerals.

A great way to increase hydration quickly is a glass of water with lemon (lemon helps the body become more alkaline and help absorb water) and a pinch of sea salt (contains minerals).

To keep your body hydrated it’s a good practice to drink your daily requirement of water each day. You can calculate your unique hydration need by taking your weight in pounds and dividing by 2 to get the amount of oz of water you should be drinking in a day. A good indicator that your body is getting a sufficient amount is having clear urine.

Note that caffeinated and alcohol beverages contribute to dehydration so for every glass of coffee or beer you have must be replaced with one glass of water. You will notice that as you introduce the recommended amount of water into your diet, your desire for caffeine and alcohol will diminish.

Craving sugar – Body is becoming low on energy and requires some energizing carbohydrates.

A healthy way to satisfy your sugar craving is to start by grabbing a sweet vegetable (peas, carrot, sweet potato, beets), fruit (berries, apple, orange, banana, kiwi etc.) or nuts (peanuts, almonds, cashews etc.). Other great alternatives to processed sugar are honey, dates and agave which are digested slower in the body and will not lead to the sugar spike and drop. Dark chocolate is also a great alternative to milk chocolate because it contains more antioxidants.

A craving for sugar may also result from an emotional low. If you are feeling down or mentally exhausted, your body craves the pick me up that sugar provides. In that instance deep breathing, talking and exercise would do you a world of good. If that fails, take that piece of dark chocolate.. because why not!

Craving carbohydrates – Body is hungry and could benefit from carbohydrates and/or protein.

Rather than go for the classic chips or big bowl of white pasta (which is a simple carb that goes into your system quickly creating a spike in blood sugar and similar spike down), a better option would be a complex carbohydrate that is loaded with nutrients. Great carbohydrate options are whole grains (quinoa, whole grain bread, brown/wild rice, oats), green vegetables (broccoli, kale, spinach etc.) and legumes (beans, lentils etc.). Read more about the difference between simple and complex carbs.

So if you are filling your body up with nutrient rich food, the cravings will subside because your body will not be calling out with a S.O.S. saying feed me something now!

Next time you have a craving take a moment to ask your body what it really wants. If you can’t resist the temptation for some salt and vinegar chips then please have a couple and enjoy every bite. In my experiences if I’m really craving something off the healthy list and tell myself I can’t have it, I will want it more! Life is too short to feel guilty about the little indulgences. Be good to yourself.