The main point of this post? Your cravings have a purpose.
Cravings. Everyone has one (or maybe you have ten?) that they can rattle off at the drop of a hat. Whether ashamed of them or not, we often view cravings as weaknesses we can’t control. We assume there is no rhyme or reason for what we crave and that we must have been born with no self control. Well this is just simply not the case. So if anyone is guilty of this mindset, there is HOPE for you and your secret stash of swedish fish in your glove compartment (pink starburst stash for me)
What are cravings and why are they bad? A craving is an intense desire to consume a specific food. It’s not the same as normal hunger because we won’t feel satisfied by eating just anything. They are dangerous because we are no longer in control and are instead being driven by our emotions and desires (which, let’s be honest, rarely leads to a healthy outcome).
This is also an issue because the craving is being misinterpreted. Did you know that there is actually a REAL REASON for your craving? Try to view it as a little secret message from your body that needs to be decoded. It’s trying to tell you what it needs, but is being ignored when we succumb to the pint of ice cream instead.
Here are a few of the most common causes of cravings:
(1) Nutrient deficiency or imbalance - If your body isn’t getting enough (or way too much) of a particular nutrient, it will produce cravings. We often mistake that hunger as a need for energy, but really it’s hunger for a specific nutrient. Try to make sure you’re consuming a well-rounded diet to ensure adequate amounts of each nutrient. Example: A chocolate craving could be a cry for MAGNESIUM. (I like to track a day or two on cronometer.com just to get a rough idea of where my nutrient levels lie.)
(2) Dehydration - This sounds so basic, but dehydration actually feels like mild hunger. The first thing to do when you get a craving is to drink a big glass of water.
(3) Way of life - Relationships, boredom, lack of exercise, and stress are all examples of factors that can lead to emotional eating. Is there something going on in your life that may be an unhealthy trigger? Try to pay attention to the feelings you're experiencing before giving in to the craving. Ask yourself if you can adjust the main issue instead of masking it.
(4) Seasonal foods - The body will often crave foods that are in-season because this is a way to balance out the effects that that season is having on our body. For example, we may crave cooling foods (fruit, ice cream, etc) in the summer and heat-producing foods (meat, oil, etc) in the winter.
Cravings can be further broken down and evaluated by noting the flavor (sweet, salty, spicy, etc) and texture (moist, dry, light, heavy, etc) of the food that you crave. For example, craving salty foods often indicates a mineral deficiency and can be helped by adding more leafy greens to your diet or by using a high-quality sea salt when cooking. Observing these sort of details can be extremely beneficial to figuring out your true needs!
The key to deciphering your cravings? Mindfulness. I know, it sounds too easy and yet impossible at the same time. Deconstructing your cravings can be done by being aware of the thoughts, emotions, and environment that surround your cravings. You must pay attention to what you crave, when you crave it, and the events and emotions that have led to this craving. There can be SO many potential causes so it’s important to pay close attention to the details, have patience, and go through a process of elimination to determine the true trigger. Try keeping track of all the details by writing everything down (time, place, feelings) every time you experience a craving. This will put you back in control of your mindset and pave the way for success!
Want to share a craving with me? email me at firstname.lastname@example.org xx