Nina Maria Saldanha, Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru (Shakarnagar)
Freshly baked chocolate cake, Chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven, hot pakodas, hot chocolate or a hot cup of tea/coffee. These are some of the things that we very often tend to associate with winter, and a cold rainy season. Many of us owe our excess consumption of these kinds of foods to the cold and cravings. But let me tell you that most often this is just an excuse, and our way of confessing our bad/unhealthy food choices.
What are cravings?
Webster’s dictionary defines cravings as “an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing”. Cravings can be for a number of things, but we most often link cravings to pregnancy, and foods like sour foods, savoury foods, sweet foods, etc.
However, you may not only have cravings for food items. PICA is a condition wherein you may have cravings for non-food items, such as sand, paper, metal, etc. It is better that you avoid consuming these, as they can cause serious health problems.
Why do we get cravings?
There are a few studies which indicate that cravings are our body’s way of telling us that we may be deficient in a particular nutrient; however this will need correlation from various tests.
How do we tackle cravings?
Many of us tend to confuse hunger (especially for junk), with cravings, and we tend to use this excuse as to why we keep eating unhealthy foods. Cravings can occur for anyone and at anytime, they don’t follow any rules. They are most commonly seen at 4 times during a person’s life:
- Toddlerhood/Childhood (especially early childhood)
- At the time of puberty (during the period of the growth spurt)
- During pregnancy and lactation (in women)
- Old age
These periods are also most often the periods when we see nutritional deficiencies cropping up due to imbalanced meals, food fads, lack of appetite, etc.
Pregnancy and cravings:
Pregnancy is one of the periods when we most often see cravings. These cravings tend to intensify during the winter months of the year. One of the possible reasons could be that it is cold, and we tend to not do a lot of work, or overwork and then overeat, keeping the reason pointed towards hunger.
During pregnancy it is most important that you focus on feeding your pregnancy cravings in a healthy way. Including healthy salads, roasted nuts, etc. are great ways to beat your cravings.
Winter cravings and how to beat them:
On a cold winter’s day, a hot cup of coffee/hot chocolate, warm tomato soup, a fresh green salad, a small bowl of roasted nuts, freshly hot roasted/baked namkeens, etc. are great ways to satisfy your hunger and cravings in a healthy way.
|Food Craving||Healthy Options||Benefits|
|Hot Coffee/ Hot Chocolate||Turmeric + Ginger Milk/ Hot Badam/Dried Fruits Milk||Turmeric and ginger are really rich antioxidants, they help in promoting digestion, Dried fruit/badam milk are rich sources of iron, protein, etc.|
|Packaged/canned Soups||Fresh, Hot, Homemade Soups||By making a soup, fresh and hot, you get to choose the best quality of ingredients, and make sure that it doesn’t have preservatives.|
|Salads with Rich dressings||A fresh green salad, with a simple vinegrette dressing||Instead of consuming salads with rich creamy salads, have fresh salads, with simple dressings, that help the fresh vegetables and produce shine through.|
|Spicy Fried Namkeens||Roasted and baked namkeens||Roasting, and baking namkeens, help in ensuring that a lot less oil and fat are used, making the namkeens healthier for consumption. Additionally spicy and oily namkeens can often trigger gastritis, and acidity, which can be quite uncomfortable.|
|Fried and excessively salted cashew nuts||Boiled or roasted nuts, or a bowl of dried fruits and nuts||Salted and fried nuts, have a lot of added fat, than required. Roasting and boiling the nuts, or consuming them as such are much healthier ways for them to be consumed.|