Got a craving? Ah yes…..cravings…. Ever wondered why you find yourself pining away for chocolate chip cookies? Ice cream? Pickles? Salty chips? It’s not just pregnant women who have this happen!
Food cravings carry important messages – signals - that are really there to get our attention and help us make a conscious decision about what to do/eat/drink next. It’s so important for you to realize that just because you are craving a chocolate chip cookie does not mean it is a good idea to eat that chocolate chip cookie. Nor does it mean you can never eat a chocolate chip cookie again!
Here are a list of what may be causing the craving and what you can do to meet the needs your body, mind and heart may be crying for:
- Stress. Stressful circumstances (miserable job, conflict in relationship, death, divorce, moving… you name it) can push you to the point of reaching for high sugar, empty-calorie foods. This is what people refer to as “emotional eating.” Before caving into the craving, take a breath, pause, check in with your body and mind and if you're feeling tense and stressed, instead of reaching for the bag of chips, go for a brisk walk or jump on the eliptical. Get your heart and lungs pumping for at least 15 minutes. The stress will get some relief and the craving will probably melt away.
- Emotional or Spiritual Deficit. Yep. Believe it or not, when you are lacking a sense of fulfillment in relationships with Self and others OR your spiritual connection to God, Divine, (or whatever it is that you believe in) you may find yourself craving foods that provide a temporary “happy-chemical” release or sense of comfort. (usually that’s starchy foods, grains or sweets). Be sure to check in on this aspect of your life and dedicate time each day and each week to your personal spiritual cultivation. It's different for different people but that might be devotional quiet time daily, meditation, prayer, attending religious services or communing with nature in a meaningful way.
- Tis the Season. When we are tuned in to all of Nature (the Nature of our own body and the Nature all around us) we find that our bodies crave foods that are in harmony with the season. For example, in the spring, you might crave green leafy salads with lots of fresh, raw veggies because the body knows spring is the time to detox from all the winter sludge. We find that in the fall and winter our bodies will crave root vegetables and hearty soups and stews with meat and more fatty foods.
- Nutrient Needs When our body is not getting the essential nutrients it needs, we sometimes get cravings for things that might not seem to make sense. So, just for example, if we don’t have enough of certain minerals in our bodies, we might crave salty food. And believe it or not, when we crave caffeine or sugar, it actually can be a signal that we are not getting enough nutrient dense carbohydrates like broccoli and kale. (yes, vegetables are carbohydrate – just not starchy or sugary forms) because our body needs energy that would normally come from these nutrient dense veggies. So eat your greens!!
- Thirst. Dehydration often shows up as hunger and cravings. As soon as you feel hunger pangs and strong cravings for lots of food, drink 8 ounces of water and wait 5 minutes. Remember 8-8-8 every day…. Eight 8 ounce glasses of water over the course of 8 hours. This way you’ll be sure you are getting enough water during your waking hours.
- We’re “hormonal.” After the age of 40, our bodies are winding down from baby-making phase of life and getting ready to give pause to the whole menstrual cycle thing. Our hormones fluctuate during this transitional time in life for years… Some women, like myself, have to go through a sudden menopause due to necessary hysterectomy and our hormones really get out of whack and fast. These hormonal fluctuations can cause wild cravings that are really just messages that we need to be eating clean, lean and green…
- Unconscious Self Sabotage. I see this all the time with a lot of my clients. Their lives improve. They are making great progress and then they call me crying, telling me they ate a gallon of icecream last night and just don’t know why. At this point we are looking at the psychological side of cravings. We look at history of comfort derived from eating icecream, for example and we look at how when life starts going really well, sometimes we get scared and we unconsciously throw ourselves under the bus so we can return to the familiarity of problems and feelings of failure. When we go on a binge like this, our blood sugar levels can get all out of whack affecting our moods and it can take a week to get back on track mind, body and spirit. It helps to have a coach or even a therapist help you raise your awareness and maybe talk through what's going on here if this sounds like you.
So… what cravings are YOU having and what do you think they are about? Would love to hear from you! Add a comment below!