We are constantly getting messages from our bodies. Think about it. You’re alerted when you have to go to the bathroom, or when you need more water. You know when it’s time to retire and go to bed. Cravings are no different. Instead of viewing them as a weakness, ask yourself this: “What is my body trying to tell me?” Easier said than done probably, right? IIN has done a great job at breaking down the causes of cravings and what to do about them!
- Lack of primary food. Remember this? Your primary food is everything that’s not food. Your relationships, career, spirituality, exercise routine, etc. If one area is lacking, it’s common to resort to food. Food can provide people with a form of relief or comfort. When you’re in tune with all aspects of your life and find a balance, you can remove actual food from the equation. You’ll start to eat for energy and nourishment, as opposed to emotional eating.
- Water. It’s true. Staying hydrated is a great way to reduce cravings. A glass of water before eating has actually been shown to reduce the amount consumed during a meal. Another thing to consider is that when you sweat, you lose water and electrolytes (like sodium) so you may be seeking sodium-rich foods after a workout.
- Yin-yang Imbalance: Sounds woo-woo right? According to traditional Chinese medicine, certain foods are more expansive (yin) while others are more contractive (yang). If you eat too much of either, you may be craving the opposite! For example, eating a diet high in sugar (guilty!) which is yin, may cause a craving for meat (yang).
- Inside-out. Cravings often come from foods you’ve recently eaten. Remnants of that food could still be on your tongue and be causing you to seek more of it. Recently I’ve started tongue scraping every morning and am convinced this is helping to combat intense sugar cravings!
- Seasonal. The body often craves foods in accordance with the season. During winter I opt for hot drinks and soup. You too? What about refreshing drinks and leafy greens or citrus during the summer? Glad I’m not alone!
- Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, cravings are bound to occur. Listen to that. For example, if you are craving meat, you could be in need of more iron.
- Hormonal. Testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. If it’s that time of the month you know what I’m talking about! Stress can also alter hormones to promote cravings.
So now that we know why we might experience cravings, it’s important to know what to do about them! Here are some simple steps to take:
- Acknowledge the craving: If cravings arise, honor them. Recognize that they aren’t a bad thing, but rather, a sign from your body. Ignoring cravings can often make them more powerful and if you make something “off limits” it’s bound to have the adverse effect. Fulfilling a craving may actually be more productive than actively trying to avoid it.
2. Explore the origin with nonjudgmental curiosity: I always ask myself these questions.
- Is this craving occurring alongside any particular emotion? (stress, fatigue, boredom)
- Is this craving tied to a habit? (for example- you have a piece of chocolate every night after dinner – is this necessary or just a habit?)
- Is this craving for a highly palatable food? (processed or sugar-rich food)
- Is this craving guiding me toward a food that would support my health?
I often crave sugar and have realized that the more sugar I eat, the more I want it! Some simple changes I’ve made have drastically helped with this craving:
- I try to get a balance of macronutrients at every meal (healthy fats, protein, and carbs – especially vegetables as they are rich in fiber!)
- I sip on apple cider vinegar and water throughout the day
- I watch my fruit intake (luckily I don’t eat a lot of fruit because of its texture, but I DO love smoothies.) Rather than throwing in tons of fruit, I try to focus on greens instead (to avoid a spike in blood sugar)
- I read labels (sugar is hidden in just about everything!)
- I cook a lot. This way I know exactly what goes into everything I’m eating.
- I use a drop of essential oils such as peppermint on my tongue or in my water.
- I don’t fight a craving or stress myself out about one. If I can’t stop thinking about chocolate, I’ll put a scoop of chocolate protein powder in my smoothie, or make a healthier dessert that has a natural sweetener such as maple syrup or honey.
Food for thought: The next time you experience a craving, consider it a guide to determine if things are out of balance. Acknowledge it, explore its origin, and proceed from a place of empowerment!