How to beat food cravings

There is a theory that when we have cravings for certain types of foods, our body is actually telling us that it needs certain nutrients, and we can find those nutrients in healthier alternatives.

For some people food cravings are so bad they are like an addiction, for other people they are a mild annoyance. This blog post will help you to reduce your cravings for certain foods, and improve the nutritional content of your diet.

So, next time you have a craving for a particular type of food, try substituting it for one of the healthy alternatives from the list below. Let us know how you get on using the comments form at the bottom of this post.

Please note that this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think that you may be deficient in any vitamins or minerals, we suggest that you consult a qualified nutritionist or doctor.

alcohol and marijuanaCraving alcohol and marijuana

If you are longing for a drink, or even smoking cannabis, it could indicate a deficiency in protein, avenin, calcium, glutamine, and potassium. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain due to the hidden calories it contains, as well as the effects on the metabolism due to the fact that the liver needs to convert all the alcohol to sugar in order to remove it from the body. Smoking cannabis has it’s own risks too, not just the effect on stimulating the appetite which could also lead to weight gain.

Rather than reaching for the bottle, or a spliff, ensure that you are getting enough meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, oatmeal or granola, broccoli, kale, beans, low fat cheese, sesame, and seaweed. If you are experiencing withdrawal effects, glutamine may help in supplement form.

Craving bread

If you have an unsatiable appetite for bread you may be deficient in nitrogen. Unfortunately bread is high in calories and can contribute to bloating of the stomach when eaten in excess.

Foods that are rich in nitrogen include anything high protein, including fish, meat, nuts, beans, and a healthy protein shake.

coffeeCraving coffee

If you are constantly wanting another cup of coffee, it could indicate that you have low levels of phosphorous, sulfur, salt, and iron. Drinking excess coffee can cause problems due to the high caffeine content, and if you are adding sugar then it can contain a lot of calories.

Instead make sure your diet contains foods such as chicken, beef, liver, fish, eggs, milk, low fat cheese, nuts, beans, red peppers, garlic, onion, cabbage, sea salt (in moderation), apple cider vinegar, seaweed, green vegetables, black cherries.

Craving fatty foods

If you are craving fatty snacks such as packets of crisps, chips, etc, you may be deficient in calcium. Fatty foods such as packets of crips and french fries are high in calories, and also high in salt which can be linked to weight gain.

Instead of reaching for a fatty snack, try broccoli, kale, beans, low fat cheese, and sesame seeds.

fizzy drinksCraving fizzy drinks

If you constantly want to drink fizzy drinks, it could indicate a calcium deficiency. Fizzy drinks can be high in calories if they are the non-diet versions, very high in acids (especially cola type drinks), and many of the diet drinks contain undesirable artificial sweeteners which deserve a blog post of their own!

Rather than reaching for a can of Coke, or a bottle of lucozade, ensure that your diet contains brocolli, kale, beans, low fat cheese, and sesame. Instead, have a drink of water, a cup of green tea, or some diluted squash.

Craving salty foods

If you are always reaching for packets of crisps, salted nuts, and pretzels, you may be deficient in chloride. Too much salt is bad for you, but it is easy to have too much if you are reaching for the wrong foods, that are often also high in calories.

Make sure that you are getting fish in your diet, and add a little sea salt to your meals. Raw goats milk is also a good source of sodium. As an alternative snack to crisps, why not try some toasted wholemeal pitta bread, and dip it in hummus which is high in protein and fibre?

sweetsCraving sweet and sugary foods

If you have a craving for sweets (one of the most common food cravings), your body may be deficient in chromium, carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, and/or tryptophan. Sweets are bad in excess due to them being very high in refined sugar, which can cause insulin spikes, leading to hunger pangs – and the cycle of sugar addition continues.

Healthy foods that contain this include broccoli, grapes, low fat cheese, beans, chicken, fresh fruit, beef, liver, fish, eggs, milk, nuts, cranberries, kale, cabbage, turkey, sweet potato, and spinach.

Craving food in general

If you are never feeling full, no matter what you eat, it could indicate a deficiency in silicon, typtophan, or tyrosine. Don’t overeat in an attempt to get these nutrients, as that can lead to excessive weight gain.

Make sure that your diet contains nuts, seeds, low fat cheese, liver, lamb, sweet potato, spinach, oranges, green vegetables, and red fruits.

Let us know in the comments below what you do to beat your food cravings!


  • Shannon

    September 2, 2014

    I agree with the posting from Martha Vatterott, I would like to see some scientific evidence backing up the hypothesis of cravings lead to a lack of certain vitamins or minerals. Let me know.

  • Martha Vatterott, RD, LD

    August 29, 2014

    Please cite the scientific evidence behind any of these recommendations? If there is scientific truth to some of these I can see recommending these suggestions to a client ( I have a private practice in clinical nutrition/behavior counseling). Often just correcting the diet to include all major nutrients is the answer. Clinical citations are appreciated