If someone says they don't have cravings, they're lying.
We all experience urges for different foods on a – dare I say it – daily basis.
When we think of them we immediately wished we hadn't. But what if I told you cravings aren't the enemy?
Sometimes impulses for certain foods are more than simple urges and listening to your gut could be the answer you've needed all along.
So what is your body trying to tell you when you're craving a big ol' burger? (Hint: it's not you need a burger).
Here's what your food cravings are telling you about your body:
WHY AM I CRAVING SALT (CHIPS, SAVOURY SNACKS)?
Often when you find yourself craving salty foods, it doesn't have anything to do with food. Salt cravings are usually linked to factors like boredom or stress, which is when people desire their favourite foods for comfort.
Those who don't get enough sleep can often find themselves craving snacks with a high "satisfaction" factor. Cravings that hit when you're tired are also harder to resist which can kickstart an eating habit that is anything but healthy.
One way to stop your craving for salt is to replenish your levels of vitamin C or potassium. Citrus fruits, blueberries and tomatoes are all good for vitamin C, while potatoes, olives, cooked spinach and some dried fruits, such as prunes, can help with potassium.
WHY AM I CRAVING SUGAR (LOLLIES, CHOCOLATE, THE WORKS)?
If you're craving sugary foods it probably means you haven't eaten enough. When you're low on carbs, you're low on energy which makes your body crave a quick hit, ie. sugar.
Some experts also expect sugar cravings to be mediated in the same part of the brain that is triggered by other addictive substances. Sugar releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces a sense of pleasure our brain craves.
The way to stop these unwanted urges is to consume calories from wholefoods that will provide you with energy that isn't artificial and won't let you crash.
WHY AM I CRAVING CARBS (PASTA, BREAD, POTATOES)?
The more carbohydrates you eat, the more you crave them. Carbs are particularly hard to resist because they raise insulin levels, a hormonal reaction that signals our bodies to accumulate fat and burn carbs.
But insulin also causes energy to be stored in fat cells, which means other cells are neglected; they become starved, which is what makes the eater crave more carbs.
"The more insulin you release, the more you crave carbs," says Dr. Robery Lustig, a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California.
"Once you're exposed to a little carbohydrate, and you get an insulin rise from it, that forces energy into fat cells and that deprives your other cells of the energy they would otherwise have utilised."
The best way to avoid carb-craving is to restrict your intake of carbs and instead rely on foods high in healthy fats like nuts, avocado, eggs, meat and poultry.
WHY AM I CRAVING DAIRY (MILK, CHEESE, BUTTER)?
It's not uncommon to be deficient in calcium and vitamin D which dairy foods like cheese are full of. Dairy products also contain natural milk sugars which produces a level of satisfaction our brain constantly wants to repeat.
But instead of reaching for the sugar-laden tub of yoghurt in a bid to replenish your levels of calcium and vitamin D, try a natural yoghurt as a healthy alternative.
WHY AM I CRAVING RED MEAT?
Cravings for red meat usually indicate an iron deficiency or that you're not eating enough protein. If you're a vegetarian this doesn't mean you should ditch your entire diet and get yourself a burger.
Instead you can introduce some of the proteins and vitamins you find in meat by eating foods like nuts, tofu, legumes as well as dried fruits such as figs which are high in iron.
WHY AM I CRAVING TEA AND COFFEE?
There are a few reasons why we crave tea or coffee. The first is hydration. If you aren't the best at making sure you're drinking 2-2.5 litres of water everyday but find yourself drinking several cups of tea or coffee, it's probably because your body needs water.
The second reason is caffeine. Caffeine withdrawals can trigger headaches and can leave you feeling sluggish and craving another hit. Lowering your intake of your favourite brew can help kerb the cravings.
WHY AM I CRAVING FRIED OR FATTY FOODS?
The reason why we crave foods high in fat might be more psychological than physical.
"A craving for fatty foods may just be a kind of emotional release from restriction — we always want what we can't have," dietitian Jo Travers says.
"Having said that, if we have eaten a lot of low-fat, low-calorie food, there may be a biological drive to seek some calorie dense, high-fat food."
These foods also give you a satisfying sense of fullness, but it's better to indulge in foods prepared with healthy fats rather than the not-so-healthy oils used for frying.