What your food cravings really mean

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  • You crave: Macaroni cheese, rice pudding, bread and pancakes
    You’re feeling: Lonely
    Instead try: Pasta and tomato sauce, apples, bowl of fibre cereal with milk It’s possible we try to fight loneliness with stodgy, stomach-filling foods. These tend to be high in carbohydrate which, combined with low protein, can help with the formation of serotonin, a brain chemical that helps to regulate mood. To be healthier, swap some of the stodgier options for bulky fruits like apples, and go for pasta dishes with tomato-based, not creamy or cheesy, sauces. High-fibre cereal is also a nutritious filler.

    You crave: Spare ribs, crusty baguettes
    You’re feeling: Angry
    Instead try: Lean steak, carrots, celery
    When we need to take out our anger, textured foods we can chomp and chew may seem more appealing. There’s nothing wrong in this, but limit the amount of fatty options (like spare ribs). Go for unprocessed lean meats instead, like steak and chicken, and bite on chewy veg, such as celery, carrots and broccoli. Crusty bread is fine in moderation if it’s wholegrain, but don’t add lots of butter.

    You crave: Trifle, custard
    You’re feeling: Weepy
    Instead try: Vegetable soup, stewed fruit
    People experiencing bereavement or divorce may crave soft or liquid textured foods, maybe as a return to the nursery foods they had as children. Instead of trifle and custard, take comfort from nutritious vegetable soups, stews and stewed fruit, or a bowl of fruit crumble.

    You crave: Sweet foods and caffeine
    You’re feeling: Down
    Instead try: Potatoes, spinach, Brazil nuts, oily fish

    Sugary cups of tea and coffee, cake and chocolate are eaten to boost
    energy levels when we feel low. Maybe we connect them with love and
    comfort. Instead, try foods rich in vitamin B1 and folic acid, like
    potatoes, selenium-rich Brazil nuts, and omega 3 rich oily fish.

    You crave: Salty foods like crisps and soy sauce
    You’re feeling: Stressed
    Instead try: Plain roasted nuts It’s not just fatty, sugary foods that hit the spot when we’re stressed –
    some people crave salty snacks, but these raise your intake of blood
    pressure-raising sodium. Go for natural roasted peanuts, which taste
    savoury and boost levels of magnesium, a stress-busting nutrient.

    Where to next?
    Try our No-Crave Diet
    Beat The Blues Diet
    Is eating making you hungry?