What Are Your Food Cravings Telling You?

It’s 4pm and you’ve been thinking about fried potato, cheese and chocolate for hours. But it’s more than just a want; it’s a need. Why is it that sometimes our cravings take on a real mean streak? What makes them so potent and what could your body be trying to tell you? Here’s 5 common food cravings and what they mean for your overall health.

1) Chocolate

It’s not just PMS that gets your chocolate cravings peaking. It could be an emotional response to stress and/or depression. All chocolate contains magnesium and theobromine which are known to reduce stress. But dark chocolate comes with an extra mood boost as it increases dopamine and serotonin production. Low serotonin levels have frequently been linked to anxiety and depression symptoms. For a natural dose, try an hour or two in the sunshine as direct exposure to light is known to help increase serotonin. Add some cushions and throw rugs to your backyard lounge to give it an extra inviting feel during Winter.

 

2) Sweet Treats

It sounds crazy but with a healthy diet and lifestyle it’s entirely possible to go a whole day without sweets. Frequent, intense cravings for sugary foods may actually signal something serious. In some cases, this is a sign of diabetes so a visit to your doctor to have your health checked is a good start. Another possibility is a lack of sleep. One study found sleeping 4 hours per night increases your appetite for sweet treats and may cause obesity. It makes sense; if you’ve been burning the candle at both ends your body is seeking a sugar hit to find a way through the day.

So how can you fit in more sleep and banish these cravings? First, by making it top priority. Redesign your bedroom so that it’s a place you want to be, not one that draws you away from streaming TV. Another option is finding space for power naps in your day. Fitting in extra sleep is a proven way to keep your body functioning at its best. A cushioned sofa is all you need to squeeze in an extra 20 minutes of snooze here or there.

 

3) Fried Foods & Cheese

Some days you’re a beacon of health and others you can’t keep those fingers away from potato chips. What gives? This could be your body’s way of compensating for a lack of fat in your diet. But fat is the enemy, we hear you cry! The truth is not all fat is bad for you. A healthy dose of good fats in your diet from things like avocado, salmon and olive oil is essential for your body to function. Simply train your brain to recognise these fat cravings and reach for a healthy dose instead.

 

4) Salty Foods

Craving salty foods is most common when you’ve been sweating. An intense workout leaves you dehydrated and your electrolytes out of whack. What you really need is a glass of water but your brain takes it a step further. Salty foods make you thirsty so your body craves them in order to get your taste buds wanting a drink. Take a leaf out of the athlete’s book and finish an intense workout with a sports drink to rebalance those hydration and electrolyte levels. Be careful not to overindulge though as they’re also high in sugar.

 

5) Ice Chips

A craving for ice chips sounds made up but many people, women especially, are reaching for a glass of crushed ice and not understanding why. If you enjoy crunching ice blocks then you may have an iron deficiency/anemia. The theory is chewing on the cold stuff temporarily increases blood flow to the brain, which is exactly what your iron deficiency is preventing. Other symptoms include fatigue, dizziness and headaches. The only way to be sure is with a blood test so keep track of how often these cravings hit and if it’s frequent head straight for the doctor.

Giving in to cravings is only human but not all cravings are what they seem. It’s not an exact science; food cravings can be misleading. Often, they’re a sign of dehydration and a tall glass of water will nip it in the bud. If they continue for a long time or prove hard to beat then a health checkup with your doctor is the next best step.

What’s The Deal With Beauty Sleep?

Ever gone to bed with a monster zit and found it much less ferocious the next morning after a long snooze? Puffy eyes, dark circles and even wrinkles can be treated by getting anywhere between the recommended 8 hours and 100 years of sleep (if you’re a Disney princess). So what’s the deal with beauty sleep? Is it for real? How can you get some? And can you fake it?

Is beauty sleep for real?

 

It’s the treatment method you can prescribe for yourself, but does it work? Science says yes. According to a Swedish study being well rested does make you more attractive. They examined the effects of sleep deprivation on your appearance and found that participants rated tired people as less attractive. Signs of fatigue include paler skin, redder eyes, drooping lips and glazed eyes. In another smaller study, researchers from the University of Michigan measured the attractiveness of patients undergoing treatment for sleep apnea. They too found that better sleep resulted in higher levels of attractiveness.

While we are asleep our body repairs itself helping us to wake up looking fresher, younger, and in turn more beautiful. During deep sleep there is a surge in growth hormones which help rejuvenate your skin and boost collagen. At around 2am cell division peaks, whether you’re awake or not. If you reach deep sleep by this time you’ll have the combined effects of fast cell division and extra growth hormones helping your body heal effectively. Activating collagen is an essential factor in reducing wrinkles which is how facial fillers and similar cosmetic procedures work. On the flip side; not getting enough sleep is a sure-fire way to increase the production of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. The negative effects of cortisol include redness and inflammation, acne, eczema and psoriasis.

You’re probably thinking at this point 100 years of sleep prescribed by Disney is the answer. But you’d be wrong. Getting a higher quantity of sleep won’t help at all if it isn’t quality. In fact, according to South Korean research you’re putting yourself at risk of heart disease with less than 5 hours or more than 9 hours of sleep per night. Quality sleep also helps you reach the deep sleep stages which is where that all-important rejuvenation occurs.

How to get better sleep

Sticking within the recommended 7-8 hour window of quality sleep is what will transform it into beauty sleep. So it’s about time you took a look at your sleeping arrangements. Here’s 3 things that may be keeping you from quality sleep and how to fix them:

You have to share a bed

Some nights you’re glad you have a partner to cuddle up against and others their noise or movements have kept you up all night. To make sure you’re both achieving solid beauty sleep opt for the biggest bed your room will allow. This should leave space for tossing and turning without any kicking or screaming. If your partner is a restless sleeper consider swapping to a new memory foam mattress. They’re specially designed to minimise partner disturbance by distributing weight evenly.

You stress over lost sleep

It’s a common trap; you tell yourself if you fall asleep within the next 3.5 minutes you’ll squeeze exactly 8 hours in before your alarm. This has to be the biggest mistake you can make. Get rid of your clock to force yourself to stop checking the time. It’s only causing stress which leads to adrenaline keeping you awake longer and cortisol production causing unattractive inflammation the next morning.

You’re too hot

Body temperature is a key factor in falling asleep quickly. Your body cools itself down while you’re asleep and warms back up as a signal to wake. The optimum temperature for falling asleep is between 15-20 degrees in your room. It may sound crazy but wearing socks to bed can actually help cool your body down faster. It improves your circulation which helps your core body to cool down faster and has a similar effect to a nice cool room.

How to look awake with makeup

In an ideal world we’d all be enjoying nightly beauty sleep. But this world is far from ideal so we’ve found ways to fake that fresh-faced look when you really need it.

Get rid of puffy eyes

Cold temperatures work wonders to reduce swelling. If you’ve woken up with some major puffy bags try popping a couple teaspoons in the freezer while you make breakfast. Once chilled apply them to your eye sockets, curved side in. Or make use of cold tea bags from your morning cup. Squeeze out the excess liquids and press them onto your eyes. The tannins in the tea are great at constricting blood vessels which also helps eliminate dark circles.

Brighten your eyes

As studies have shown, dull or red eyes are a common sign of tiredness. Use white or nude eyeshadows and eyeliners to brighten them up a bit. Apply bright white in the inner corners of your eye near the tear ducts for a dewy, wide-eyed effect. Or line your lower waterline in nude for a similar wide-awake look.

Cover dark circles

For darker skinned ladies reach for your red lipstick. The red-orange hues are the perfect counter to those dark-blue circles. Our fairer friends can add a dab of green concealer to bring down the lipstick colour enough for foundation to cover. When you do head for the concealer be sure to apply in a triangle underneath your eye for the illusion of a mini facelift. Blend out gently with your ring finger to avoid damaging your delicate under eye area.

Arch those brows

Draw attention away from tired eyes with stunningly sculpted eyebrows. Use a mixture of creamy pencil and powder brow fillers to achieve a natural, feathery look.

Add colour to your complexion

Pale or dull skin is another sure sign of tiredness. Combat this with a dab of illuminator mixed in with your foundation for an all over glow. Finish off with a touch of blush on the apples of your cheeks. A very gentle tap is the aim here. You just want to look slightly flushed and blooming.

Skip the dramatic lipstick

You may have been excited to try out your new vampy lip shade but a tired looking day is not the moment. Using dark colours on your lips will draw more attention to dark under-eye circles and dull skin. Go for a pink-nude shade similar to your natural lips instead for a fresh look that will have people asking if you woke up like this.

The science is in and beauty sleep is most definitely real. Your best bet is focusing on 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to wake up flawless. But for those weeks that sleep is low priority you could always turn to makeup for a quick fix.