The summer season can be the perfect storm for cravings. We try to jam-pack our days with everything – from work to vacation to the beach, to evening outings (with or without the kiddos) – there’s never enough time to get everything done, so getting enough sleep and eating healthy can be a challenge. All of the summer parties can mean decadent foods (hello, brunch), extra cocktails, and late nights. Plus, often while trying to achieve the “summer body” in a short period of time, we restrict our diets so much, and add in so much exercise, that we become depleted from the nutrients we need, which can lead to cravings and overdoing it!
So we’ve put together a list of amazing tips – including the “why and how” from board certified nutritional consultant, holistic health coach and Project Juice co-founder, Marra St. Clair.
FOOD CRAVINGS: What do they mean and how do you handle them?
- SWEET: Cravings hit when you’re feeling sad or down.
- SALTY: Salt Cravings are often the result of feeling stressed out.
- FRIED FOODS: A diet void of high-quality, “healthy” fats leads to fried food cravings.
- MEAT: A lack of iron can cause intense cravings for meat.
- CARBS: Overly restrictive diets cause carb cravings.
SWEET: Cravings hit when you are sad
- What are you missing? We literally eat sugar to make us happy.
- How do you fix it? Sugar signals a burst of serotonin that leaves you happy for a moment … but then you crash again and crave more sugar. The key to breaking this cycle is to satisfy your sugar craving with a slower releasing and natural sugar source, like a piece of fresh fruit. Thanks to their high fiber content, apples, pineapple and berries will not cause the same drastic crash as a piece of candy or that donut does.
- How do you prevent future cravings? Teach yourself how to better manage frustration and create a sense of happiness.
- For example: Get outside for some Vitamin D rich sunlight which boosts serotonin.
- Exercise releases endorphins and boosts serotonin, plus it’s a great release for stress or frustration.
- Most importantly, resist the temptation to consume artificial and added sugars because they cause the worst sugar highs and lows. Retrain your palate to appreciate fresh fruit instead.
- If you absolutely must have a “sweet” then go with a square of dark chocolate, which is low in sugar and very satisfying. (and can help boost those serotonin levels!)
SALTY: Stress can cause salt cravings
- What are you missing? We eat salt when we’re lacking essential minerals. Your body may be craving the trace minerals found in salt and not the actual salty flavor. You also may have an electrolyte imbalance which means you need more potassium or chloride.
- How do you fix it? Fulfill your daily sodium needs (500 mg per day) with celtic or Himalayan sea salt rather than table salt. Table salt is highly processed, refined and bleached, leaving it nutritionally void. High quality sea salt is rich in trace minerals. Balancing your electrolytes and staying hydrated is also really important. Drinking coconut water is a great way to hydrate and replenish electrolytes. Without electrolytes, your cells can not absorb water, leaving you dehydrated and craving more salt.
- How do you prevent future cravings? Include more mineral-rich foods in your diet like nori found in miso soup and sushi. Make sure to include potassium and vitamin c rich foods like figs, bananas, broccoli, and red peppers in your diet as well because those also help combat stress.
FRIED FOODS: Cravings hit when you are imbalanced (i.e. drank too much the night before or didn’t get enough sleep)
- What are you missing? Healthy fats, which are essential for the absorption of all nutrients and good dietary balance
- How do you fix it? The more you eat fried foods, the more you will crave them. Add avocado, olive oil, nuts or other good fat sources to feel full and satisfied. Coconut oil is a great cooking oil because it is rich in medium chain fatty acids and has a really high burning temp, meaning you can cook at high temps without hurting the quality of the oil.
- How do you prevent future cravings? Since fried food cravings are often associated with lifestyle, be sure to get some extra sleep and try to resist overdoing it with alcohol. Incorporate the healthier fats recommended above and stay away from fast food. It’s easier than ever to make healthier dining options even on the run, so don’t let a burger and fries be an option when a better choice is probably close by.
MEAT: Cravings hit when you are tired
- What are you missing? Craving meat, especially red meat, is a common indicator of iron deficiency, which results in a lack of energy!
- How do you fix it? Some of the healthiest foods also are rich in iron – spinach, beans, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, tofu, raisins, beans, dark chocolate.
- How do you prevent future cravings? To get the most benefit and absorb the iron properly, pair these foods with vitamin C rich foods such as oranges, strawberries or broccoli. Be consistent too – make it a goal to eat two (non-meat) iron rich foods per day.
CARBS: Cravings hit when your body feels deprived. If you are constantly craving carbs, you could be restricting your calories too much or consuming empty calories that offer no nutrition.
- How do you fix it? Make sure that you are consuming enough nutrient dense calories to support your activity level (real whole foods instead of processed junk) and also be sure to eat every few hours throughout the day. This will optimize your metabolism and leave you with less cravings.
- How do you prevent future cravings? Focus on eating complex carbohydrates to stabilize cravings. Add two servings per day of high fiber whole grains such as Ezekiel toast or steel cut oatmeal.
**If you are really ready to get rid of your cravings once and for all, a three to five day cleanse that nourishes your body is the perfect Reset for your palate. It is an easy way to cut out all of the unhealthy foods. You will be left craving fruits and veggies. By incorporating 100 percent organic, cold-pressed juices with raw/sprouted/easily digestible fresh foods, you can cleanse the same way. Project Juice offers the Rejuvenation Cleanse, which incorporates snacks with wellness shots, bottled soups and cold-pressed juice so your palate can still enjoy differing experiences, while helping to rebalance your cravings.