Posted at 08/19/2012 12:15 PM | Updated as of 08/19/2012 1:11 PM
5 food cravings conquered
We all crave "bad" foods from time to time, but your cravings could signal more than you think. Check out these hidden meanings behind five common food cravings and find out how you can overcome them.
What you crave: Chocolate
What you need: Magnesium
Healthy food swaps: Dark chocolate, nuts and seeds, medjool dates
Chocolate is one of the world’s most commonly craved foods and, while you may feel as though you are addicted to the sweet treat, it is believed that what many of us are craving when we are hankering after some chocolate is in fact the mineral magnesium.
To help ease chocolate cravings, make sure that you are getting enough magnesium in your daily diet through healthy sources such as nuts, seeds and pulses. Also, when those chocolate cravings strike, try switching to 85% dark chocolate. Although chocolate can be high in fat, dark chocolate also has plenty of health benefits due to its abundance of antioxidants. Some of the reported health benefits include its ability to slow down muscle ageing, fight disease, prevent wrinkles, boost brain health and prevent heart disease. If dark chocolate doesn’t hit the spot, try snacking on medjool dates, which are rich in magnesium and a natural solution to sugar cravings.
What you crave: Pasta and bread
What you need: Serotonin
Healthy food swaps: Sweet potatoes, lentils, beans
Research has found that eating carbohydrates stimulates the brain’s production of serotonin – the happy hormone. This may be why many of us crave stodgy "comfort" foods such as pasta and bread when we are feeling blue.
To get a healthy fix of carbs (minus the blood sugar crashes and energy slumps) opt for nutritious and low GI carbohydrates which will release a steady supply of energy and keep you feeling full for longer. Good sources of complex carbohydrates include beans, lentils, oats and sweet potatoes. As well as switching your carbohydrate sources, you can also reduce cravings by boosting your serotonin levels through exercise and mood-boosting activities. Try using uplifting essential oils such as neroli and lemon which also stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain.
What you crave: Sugar
What you need: Chromium
Healthy swap: Grape juice, whole grains, apples
We are all tempted by sugary treats and desserts from time to time. However, if you find yourself experiencing regular, intense cravings for sugar, this could be a symptom of low levels of the mineral chromium in your diet.
To maintain normal blood sugar levels throughout the day and keep those cravings at bay, try to snack on foods rich in the mineral chromium. Apples and whole grains are good sources of chromium and can also provide healthier solutions to sugar cravings. Snack on apple slices or porridge sweetened with honey or dried fruit next time you are tempted to indulge. Try also replacing your sugary carbonated drink with a glass of antioxidant-rich grape juice, which is also a great source of chromium.
What you crave: Burgers
What you need: Iron
Healthy swap: Lean meat, fish, pulses, nuts
Craving burgers, sausages or steak? Intense and frequent cravings for red meat could be a sign that you are deficient in iron – an essential mineral which is required for the production of healthy red blood cells.
Unless you are opposed to eating meat for ethical reasons, craving meat is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as you make healthy choices. Rather than filling up on highly processed and fatty sources of meat such as burgers, opt for quality lean meat such as chicken or turkey. Alternatively, oily fish is a good source of iron and contains many other health-boosting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. For those who wish to refrain from eating meat, vegan sources of iron such as beans, lentils and nuts can help to ease your cravings.
What you crave: Salty snacks
What you need: To relax
Healthy swap: Popcorn, baked potato, edamame beans
You may think that your cravings for savoury snacks are simply based on how good they taste, but research suggests your salt cravings could in fact be a symptom of stress. Research from the University of Cincinnati has shown that the sodium in salt blunts the body's natural responses to stress by inhibiting stress hormones, meaning that your cravings for salty foods could be your body’s attempt to deal with stress.
The best way to overcome stress-induced salt cravings is of course to find a healthier way to deal with stress. Experiment with different relaxation techniques, such as exercise, meditation or aromatherapy, to find one that works for you. If you are still craving salty snacks, opt for those rich in nutrients and low in fat (such as lightly salted popcorn) for a healthier option. As potassium can help to reduce the harmful effects of sodium on blood pressure and the heart, choose foods which are rich in potassium too, such as salted edamame beans or a lightly seasoned baked potato. Read more on www.realbuzz.com.
5 Well-Known Tips for Healthy Eating (That Don't Work)
By Ryan J. Leeds, Chan Teik Onn May 14, 2013 1,190,291 views
Considering that eating is the basic building block of survival, you'd think we'd pretty much have it down by now, yet it's hard to find a subject more prone to bullshit and misinformation than the question of what constitutes a healthy diet. That might be because we really don't like the answer ("Eat mostly plants!"), but also because there are plenty of so-called experts insisting that ...
#5. Diet Soda Helps You Lose Weight
Nobody truly likes artificial sweeteners, but they're an accepted evil, because how else can you replace all the sinks in your home with soda fountains without feeling guilty? Of course, we all know that such freedom comes at a price -- in this case, that price being that they taste horrid, at least for the first few months before your tongue just gives up. What else can we expect when aspartame is concocted by Satan himself from beetle asses and baby tears? And hey, limitless soda, guys!
Scientists noticed a strange trend: People who drink diet soda do not in fact lose any weight. They reason appears to have something to do with how your body processes sugar.
You see, with the exception of one organ in particular, your body is kind of a dumbass. That's why, when you wash down your meal with a half-gallon of fake sweetness, your gut is all "Dur, sugar!" and tells your pancreas to get all revved up to process said shitload of sugar. Because your pancreas is not the sharpest tool in the shed, it starts cranking out insulin. This is a problem, since there is, in fact, no shitload of sugar to process.
This kicks off a vicious cycle in which your body A) absorbs more of the sugar that you ingest from other foods and B) craves more food, since you got it all aroused with promises of sugar overload and then cockblocked it with a bunch of counterfeit sugar instead. Researchers point out that this "might explain in part why obesity has risen in parallel with the use of artificial sweeteners."
So while you may think you're helping out your diet by allowing yourself some low-calorie (but still sweet) alternatives, chances are you're actually screwing over your waistline in the long run.
#4. Sugar Causes Diabetes
Sugar has long been the diet bogeyman for kids and adults alike. And besides transforming you into a hyper, sugar-fueled, acne-scarred human blob, a diet with too much sugar carries the lovely side effect of surefire diabetes when you're older.
After all, everyone knows that heavy sugar intake leads to diabetes -- hell, even we at Cracked are guilty of making the occasional joke of the "Have another Snickers, fatty! Enjoy the diabetes!" variety. They call it "high blood sugar" for a reason.
If you get the diabetes diagnosis from your doctor, your first big shock will be that he or she doesn't just tell you to stop eating candy bars -- the recommended diet seems to have you cutting back on everything. That's because, just as a runny nose is a symptom of having a cold, high blood sugar is a symptom of diabetes, not a cause. So saying that eating sugar will give you diabetes is like saying that shoving snot up your nose will give you a cold: It's still a bad idea, but it's really a sign of a larger problem.
Diabetes comes from your pancreas becoming too lazy to get up off its ass and produce enough insulin, the hormone responsible for delivering sugar to your cells. Lazy, good-for-nothing pancreas -- always flopped all up on the couch (the couch, in this case, being your small intestine). So why the widespread idea that eating sugar causes diabetes? Well, people who eat an abnormally large amount of sugar probably tend to eat an abnormally large amount of ... just ... everything, and being overweight is a definite factor in developing Type 2 diabetes.
When you eat too much of anything -- even if you're a glutton exclusively for whole grain, "healthy" foods -- you can exhaust your pancreas, preventing it from producing enough insulin to deliver all that extra glucose you consume to your body's cells. So your pancreas runs out of fucks to give, your blood glucose levels rise, and the next thing you know, your legs have become an endangered species.
Of course, that's just Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes usually develops in childhood or young adulthood and also has nothing to do with eating too much sugar -- it's just a matter of your number coming up in the genetic lottery. Or whatever you call a contest where the winner has to constantly stab herself in the finger with a tiny needle.
#3. Eating At Night Makes You Fat
It's completely obvious, when you think about it: Your level of fatassness is entirely determined by calories taken in versus calories burned. Drooling on your pillow typically isn't a very physically intensive activity, so when you pork out right before bed, you won't be using up any of those calories you just shoved down your gullet, unless your night terrors are really strenuous that week.
So clearly, eating at night is a true dieting no-no. And if what you choose to eat at night happens to be high in carbohydrates? Whew, don't even get us started on that.
Actually, according to a study conducted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, you're actually better off loading up in the evening than other times of the day. It has to do with how your body regulates when you get hungry.
The study took a bunch of police officers (because doughnuts, duh) and split them into two groups: The first group loaded up on a carb-heavy meal at night, while the second spread their carb intake out throughout the day. The researchers explained that "The idea came about from studies on Muslims during Ramadan, when they fast during the day and eat high-carbohydrate meals in the evening, that showed the secretion curve of leptin was changed." In case you're asking your screen what the hell leptin is right now, it's the hormone that tells your body it's not hungry anymore.
According to everything our mothers ever told us, the outcome should have been easy to foresee: The "doughnuts for dinner" group should have had to grease themselves up in order to squeeze into their squad cars at the end of the six-month study. But much to the contrary, the researchers found that not only had those officers not gotten fatter, they had actually lost more weight than the control group. That's because the heavy intake of carbs in the evening modified the participants' secretion of hunger hormones in such a way that they felt less hungry throughout the day, with just a single hunger peak in the evening (aka "DOUGHNUT TIME!"). The research suggests that "concentrating carbohydrate intake in the evening, especially for people at risk of developing diabetes or cardiovascular disease due to obesity" could be an effective alternative for people who have difficulty sticking with diets.
Oh, and get this. If you do eat breakfast, go big. Another study found that dieters who ate a high-carb breakfast (with dessert!) were less likely to gain back weight lost while dieting than those who ate a healthier, low-carb (and, sadly, dessertless) breakfast. It's for the same reason: A healthier breakfast is better for you, but also leads to you getting hungrier sooner. And in the long run, any diet that leaves you hungry is doomed to fail.
#2. Eating a Bunch of Mini-Meals Boosts Your Metabolism
Metabolism is the Magic Word in the diet world. You can't flip past two pages of Men's Health without seeing the M-word mentioned at least three dozen times, and according to approximately 98 percent of guys in gyms with perpetual sweaty pits, eating mini-meals is the only way to go. By eating five or six small meals instead of three big ones, your body's metabolism will be revved up, therefore burning off calories more efficiently. Picture your body as a fireplace: Add small batches of wood more frequently and the fireplace burns brighter; stuff in too much wood at once and suddenly its eyes are stinging from its own bacon-sweat while Jillian Michaels yells at it.
Brace yourself, because what we're about to tell you might come as a shock. You know that meathead at the gym, the one who's constantly espousing the virtues of mini-meals? Yeah, it turns out he's no mathematician.
We can't place all the blame on Meathead for perpetuating this idea, though. After all, besides the fact that our entire concept of metabolism is flawed from the get-go, studies from as early as the 1950s have praised mini-meals as the ultimate weight-loss tool. But just as our concept of metabolism is flawed, so too were those studies. How so? Because they didn't control for total calorie intake. And when it comes to fat loss, the total number of calories you take in is what truly matters, not when or how often you intake them.
So the people who did lose weight with a bunch of smaller meals did it because, for whatever reason, eating more often made them eat less. And if eating more but smaller meals happens to make you less hungry for food, then go for it -- managing hunger is what successful diets are all about. But studies show that for the average person, it makes no difference.
#1. The Food Pyramid Is the Bible of Healthy Eating Habits
Some diet myths are easy to spot. No, eating oysters won't boost your sexual performance; no, putting a banana in the refrigerator won't make it poisonous. But then there are the facts drilled into us by The Man, like the USDA's Food Pyramid, which no one questioned because it came in an official-looking government diagram. You've seen this, right? Grains at the bottom, milk, cheese, and meat higher up:
You probably remember it best as a poster plastered all over schools and your doctor's office, but it was much more than that -- for many years, the Food Pyramid dictated how school lunches were put together, and heavily influenced other government-sponsored nutrition programs. So what's wrong with that?
Some of you younger kids know that the Food Pyramid has already been replaced by Michelle Obama's "healthy plate." But unless you're younger than the Obama administration or a time traveler (far more likely), the old Food Pyramid probably had more impact on your dietary habits than you realize. And with good reason -- without a handy guide to tell you exactly how much to eat of each type of food, how else would you know not to sustain yourself on Almond Joys dipped in tubs of lard?
The problem was that the pyramid wasn't based on scientific evidence or research -- it was more about which lobbyists whined loud enough to get their particular product shuffled to a more prominent spot on the chart.
According to the pyramid, fat is bad, so you should eat something else. Like carbs. The extra stupid part of this is that in 1992 (when the pyramid was released), we'd known for 30 to 40 years that it's not fat itself that's bad -- it's that some fats are bad. Yet the Food Pyramid asks you to eat 11 servings a day of carbohydrates so that you can avoid fat at all costs. The kicker is that they counted potatoes as vegetables, so add in up to five servings of those bad boys and you're up to 16 servings a day of starchy, carby deliciousness.
But it wasn't just the wheat and potato farmers who wanted in on this. The dairy industry wanted their cut, even though dairy isn't a dietary requirement. Beef? Sure, there's a nice T-bone in there, right alongside other protein sources such as legumes, assuring you that three servings of steak a day is perfectly (awesomely?) healthy. So avoid all fats, but a cheeseburger is the perfect meal.
But now that the USDA has woken up to research from the 1950s with Michelle Obama's healthy initiative, they've instead started emphasizing eating more vegetables, less carbs, and healthy fats. Of course, the healthy vegetable lobby probably had a huge hand in this, so take it with a grain of salt. Not literally, though! Salt is bad. Or at least until someone tells us otherwise.