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What Your Cravings Really Mean

Ask any diet expert and they're bound to agree: There's nothing that will kill your weight loss progress faster than a craving.

Because unlike hunger, a craving doesn't necessarily go away once you've eaten your fill. Unless you address the root cause of your hankering, it's not possible to move on. To stay on the straight and narrow toward your better-body goals, learn the meanings behind every kind of craving and healthy ways to satisfy and overcome each.


sugar cravings

People crave sweets for one of two reasons: either their serotonin levels have dipped (which is often the case when women are PMSing) or they're tired and looking for a quick hit or fast-acting energy in the form of sugar and simple carbs.

Eat This! Instead: Carb-rich foods in general—not just cookies and sweets—help boost energy and serotonin levels. Instead of caving to your inner Cookie Monster, turn to a healthy source of complex carbs like whole grain bread. Though any of these Best Brand Name Breads for Weight Loss can remedy the issue, the raisins in the Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin Sprouted Whole Grain Bread provide natural sweetness to nip your sugar craving in the bud. Toast up a slice as an energy and mood-boosting snack. Alternatively, take a walk. Studies have shown that physical activity can boost energy and ward off sugar cravings—it's a win-win.


coffee craving

If lattes and iced coffees are regularly signing your siren song, dehydration may be to blame. The reason: When your body doesn't get enough water, it can make you feel sluggish.

Eat This! Instead: Instead of heading to the break room to brew another cup, down a tall glass of water. Doing so will likely give you the surge of energy you're searching for. Bonus: Opting for H20 over coffee drinks will save you mega calories and likely help you shed a few pounds. Not a fan of plain water? Keep your taste buds interested—and your waistline trim—with these 50 Best Detox Waters for Fat Burning and Weight Loss.


chip craving

If you can't shake your hankerings for chips and fries, your sodium levels are likely low. Since the body loses fluids and salt through sweat, this most often occurs after a workout that leaves you drenched.

Eat This! Instead: While replacing lost salt is important for fluid balance and blood pressure regulation, you don't have to scarf down fattening, calorie-dense fare to boost your intake of the mineral. Anchovies, lightly salted air-popped popcorn and even celery and carrots can do the trick. Believe it or not, these veggies naturally carry a small amount of sodium. Who knew?! And for those times when only something more indulgent will do, check out our exclusive report Every Fast Food French Fry—Ranked! Sticking to the healthier picks will help you stay on track with your weight loss plan.


craving meat short ribs

If juicy steaks and burgers are what you crave, the odds are good that your body is begging for iron, a mineral that's plentiful in the dishes you can't stop thinking about.

Eat This! Instead: Since deficiencies in iron can slow metabolism you'll definitely want to give in to your cravings. But to stay lean you'll need to be smart about it. Stick with lean cuts of grass-fed beef, which is naturally lower in calories than the meat from conventionally raised cows. Adding fortified cereals, dried fruit and dark leafy greens to your diet can also help you meet your iron goals. And for more calorie-torching tips that will help you slim down, check out these 55 Best Ways to Boost Your Metabolism.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh