published Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

When you’re craving a certain food, your body may be trying to tell you something

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    Pamela Kelle
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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Do you find yourself craving salty chips or crackers?

It’s possible what your body is really needing is chloride or silicon and what you should eat instead of the unhealthy potato chips are some nuts, cashews, goat milk or fatty fish.

The website stepintomygreenworld.com, with information from Coaching & Weight Management, another website in the U.K., has put together a chart listing some unhealthy food cravings matched with what your body is saying it needs through those yearnings. It also provides a corresponding list of healthy substitutes.

Chattanoogan Pamela Kelle, a registered dietitian and licensed nutrition therapist, says there is definitely some truth to the logic behind such charts.

“The whole idea behind the intuitive health movement is to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us,” she says.

Hillary Libby, a certified whole health coach in Chattanooga, says such charts can be helpful, but they don’t tell the whole story. What you might be craving instead is someone to talk to, a less stressful job or physical activity.

“Your body is an amazing thing and it is very smart,” she says, “but you have to learn to listen to it and trust what it is telling you.”

Certified by the Institute of Integrated Nutrition, Libby works with people “to get them where they need to be for a healthy life. Food is just part of it. We look at food, work, relationships, things that make them whole.”

Looking at the chart, she says if you are craving chocolate it could be your body needs magnesium, or it could be that you are sad, or hate your job or you are lonely, so you need to listen and figure out where that is coming from.

She says it’s also possible you like chocolate, so go ahead and eat it. Just make sure it’s the healthier dark chocolate.

When it comes to food, healthier is obviously better and Libby recommends following a simple guideline: “Eat pretty, colorful foods and you should be OK. Those are usually fresh fruits and vegetables.”

If you crave sweets, eat potatoes, carrots or beets. The body evolves and, just as you might have to enjoy or even need the unhealthy sugars in unhealthy sweet items, your body will learn to like and appreciate the sweet flavors in the healthier alternatives.

“I use a concept called ‘crowding out.’ Instead denying yourself anything, eat an abundance of healthy colorful foods, she says.

Another tip is to keep track of what you eat, when you eat it, what is going on in your life, and how you feel after eating it. Keep a diary if it helps, and you might spot a trend or list of symptoms that explain why you crave a tub of ice cream sitting at home alone on a Saturday night.

“I go so far as to have my clients keep a diary that includes their emotions and moods,” Kelle says.

“There are all kind of interactions between how we feel emotionally and the foods we eat and realizing that opens up some information.”

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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