By Angie Albers RD, LD

When strong cravings for a certain food arise, it could mean you’re not eating a well-balanced diet or you may be missing out on a variety of vitamins and minerals. Often times, thirst is mistaken for hunger so it’s important to drink plenty of water throughout the day and before meals. Some of the most common food cravings involve something sweet, crunchy, or salty. Having the urge to eat something high in sugar could be due to the fact you aren’t eating enough carbohydrates during the day. Rather than falling for these cravings and eating nutrient-poor foods such as doughnuts, cookies, or ice cream late at night, you’d be better off eating a variety of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables that are high in carbohydrates and fiber during the day. Unlike the temporary satisfaction that high-sugar added sweets provide, fruits are naturally high in sugar and fiber that will ward off your sweet tooth while also providing essential nutrients.

Cravings for foods high in fat could indicate you’re not getting enough healthy fats throughout the day. Rather than ordering a greasy burger and fries that are high in saturated and trans fats, try wild salmon with a side of vegetables sautéed in olive oil for healthy unsaturated fats. Nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts are also a great snack choice when craving foods high in fat or salty, crunchy foods. Snack on vegetables such as sugar snap peas, carrots, peppers, and celery when craving crunchy foods. For more ideas such as these, check out our previous blog about healthy snacking (http://NutriFormance.com/to-snack-or-not-to-snack-that-is-the-question/) and our variety of recipes.

Cravings don’t necessarily always stem from an inadequate amount of nutrients. Often times, intense cravings can surface due to high stress levels from busy work or school schedules. Before eating every last item in your cupboard, take a deep breath and make time for meditation or exercise. Both have been shown in research studies to reduce the urge to binge on unhealthy foods and to relieve stress. And remember, you shouldn’t feel discouraged if you give into your cravings every now and then. It is about progress, not perfection. What you do everyday matters more than what you do every once in awhile.