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Kristine Xu is a journalism freshman and Mustang News food columnist.
Whether it’s reaching for a bag of chips or cracking open another can of soda, few have resisted the intense cravings that sometimes leave us surrounded by wrappers and an overwhelming sense of guilt.
Fortunately, there are some alternatives to curb those cravings and stop them for good.
Having a strong sweet tooth can sometimes be a hassle, especially when the cravings kick in and it is difficult to find even an ounce of self-control. Fortunately, beating this craving does not mean giving up sweets entirely. Indulging can help ease the cravings without coming up completely empty-handed.
Craving sweet things also indicates a diet short on carbon and phosphorus supplements. Incorporate fresh fruits and protein to improve your diet and keep cravings at bay. Keep some apples, pears, oranges, nuts or yogurt on hand for an easy to-go snack.
As with the sweets, it is OK to indulge in chocolate as long as it’s in moderation. By choosing to eat a higher quality over a large quantity of chocolate, you will feel satisfied and have room for healthier options. Chocolate cravings signal a diet low in magnesium, which can be found in raw nuts and seeds, legumes and fresh fruits. Chop up some fresh fruit in a Tupperware to keep handy when cravings hit, or grab a handful of your favorite trail mix to snack on throughout the day.
Comfort foods such as bread and pasta stimulate serotonin production in the body, producing a naturally occurring feel-good chemical. In reality, craving carbohydrates is actually a craving for some kind of reassurance. Instead of binging on carbohydrates, do something to improve your mood such as talking to a friend or going for a run. Cravings for carbohydrates signal a lack of nitrogen in the body, which can be easily remedied through high protein foods such as fish, meat, nuts and beans. If the craving is still there, opt for whole-wheat options in a controlled portion size and remove any extra add-ons such as butter or pasta sauce.
4. Salty food
Possibly one of the hardest cravings to resist, salty foods can be found in everything from tempting fast food to crinkly bags of potato chips. This is one of my most common cravings, which is linked to low levels of calcium — something I personally do not get a lot of in my daily diet. The satisfying crunchiness of potato chips can also be linked to stress. To combat this, eat more broccoli, kale or dark leafy greens, in addition to taking calcium supplements.
After a long, stressful day, it’s tempting to drop a couple bucks for a satisfying burger. The craving of sinking your teeth into a hearty piece of meat may actually be a sign of protein and iron deficiency. Of course, protein has to be found from some source. However, it is smarter to avoid fatty and processed meats that are high in saturated fats. Instead, pick controlled portions of lean proteins such as chicken or turkey, which have less fat than regular red meat.
For those who crave ice cream, cheese or a tall glass of cold milk, it may be due to a calcium deficiency rather than an addiction to dairy. Milk is a great source of fat, protein, vitamin D and calcium, which is great for strong bones and teeth. Additionally, the amino acids found in milk are similar to opiates and can make the satisfying feeling of eating dairy more addictive over time. But this craving is not necessarily negative, as it’s a great source of calcium.
There is virtually no nutritional content found in carbonated drinks. Instead, soda contains a lot of synthetic sweeteners, food coloring and excessive caffeine, making you even more dehydrated than before consumption. In addition, a craving for carbonated drinks is linked to low levels of calcium. Fortunately, this can be easily remedied with yogurt, cheese or 2 percent milk. Keep some string cheese or a serving of yogurt handy to curb cravings.
Alcohol in mass amounts is bad for anyone. However, for those that are of age, pair a glass of red wine with dinner — it’s the only alcohol that has proven health benefits. Instead of spending the weekend drinking, shift the focus onto healthier replacements with a higher value for your body. Cravings for alcohol are linked to low levels of protein, calcium and potassium, which can easily be found in lean meats, dairy products and legumes, respectively. Add a serving of lean meat or a glass of milk to each meal.
For those that crave tobacco throughout the day, this is a signal for low levels of silicon and tyrosine in the body. Instead of going for a smoke break, your body really needs the protein and fiber found in a serving of raw nuts or seeds, in addition to Vitamin C found in oranges, green and red fruits and vegetables. Pack a Ziploc bag filled with a handful of almonds or a fresh orange to snack on during the day.
Caffeine is the bane of existence for many college students, forcing them to reach for another cup of coffee during the day when it is really an extra serving of vitamin C or iron that the body needs. Instead of going on a Starbucks run, increase the amount of raw fruits and vegetables in your diet, including apricots, figs or raw broccoli, which is a naturally occurring boost of energy.