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Food Cravings Explained and Alternatives

These Alternative Food Cravings Options Are Sure to Curb Your Appetite

Food cravings can be extremely tough to curb. So instead of trying to completely squash your cravings, why not try one of these healthier options? Registered dietician Shira Lenchewski of Shira RD has alternatives for everything from red meat to candy to carbs that do not disappoint.

Here's how to decode your cravings, and act accordingly:

If You're Craving: Chocolate

You could be lacking magnesium in your diet. Magnesium is an essential mineral involved in energy production, glucose metabolism, and muscle function. This is especially true for those hitting the gym hard.

Instead, Reach For:
High-quality, low-sugar dark chocolate. I recommend sticking to 75 percent cocoa or higher and pairing it with another magnesium-rich source like sunflower seeds. My personal favorite is Hu, which is a little pricey, but all the more reason to keep portions in check.

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Related: Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate

If You're Craving: Candy

Craving pure sugar is a good indication that you're running low on energy. Think about it. What is the one thing you're itching for, after a terrible night's sleep, or at around 4 p.m. during a stressful workday? The answer is usually sugar, because it's used as instant fuel for our body's cells.

Instead, Reach For:
If you're raiding your co-workers' leftover Halloween stash, I recommend a more slow-burn carbohydrate with a source of fat or protein. Unlike simple sugar, this will fuel your cells while avoiding the postsugar crash. Two options that make for great pick-me-ups: apples with nut butter or berries with 2 percent unsweetened Greek yogurt.

If You're Craving: Salty

If nothing but the saltiest pickle will do, you may not be drinking enough H2O. Salt helps the body hold on to water, so we crave it when we're in need of fluids.

Instead, Reach For:
Water. Stay hydrated, especially as we approach the Winter months. If plain water bores you, try adding in mint, lemon, or frozen fruit to mix it up. And if you're really just craving salt after all, toasted seaweed is a great low-calorie option.

Related: Stay Hydrated With These Fruit-Water Recipes

If You're Craving: Starchy Carbs Like Bread, Bagels, and Pasta

Since high-carb foods boost the feel-good hormone serotonin, starch cravings can be a sign you're in need of a mood booster.

Instead, Reach For:
A bath. Bust out the Epsom salts, it's time for some serious R+R. Trust me. Indulging in a starch free-for-all feels really good in the moment, but it will likely bum you out more the next day.

If You're Craving: Rich Creamy Dairy

Your body may be telling you it's in need of some healthy fat.

Instead, Reach For:
I'm a realist, so if you're craving ice cream, I'm not going to recommend a handful of walnuts, which are, of course, full of healthy fat. For ice-cream emergencies I recommend lower-in-sugar coconut ice-creams like Kippy's three-ingredient ice cream in Los Angeles.

Related: Mouthwatering Buffalo Burger You Can Make at Home

If You're Craving: A Burger

If you can't stop thinking about red meat, there's a chance you're your body is craving iron and B12. This is especially true during or around that time of the month.

Instead, Reach For:
I'm a proponent of grass fed, antibiotic and hormone-free red meat 1 time a week. Try experimenting with an open-faced bison burger — which, cut for cut, is leaner and has more iron than beef.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / THEM TOO
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