You're on the couch watching your favorite tv show and out of no where you start thinking about that mint chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer. It's calling your name...or it seems to be anyway...singing to you of the joy and goodness that it will bring to your taste buds. The party in your mouth that could be.
You know you shouldn't. You know you'll feel crappy afterwards, the pleasure doesn't last and the guilt will set in....but it sounds so good. The sweet, creamy goodness.
But no...the sugar, it can be so damaging. And you've worked so hard on improving your health.
Oh, but it's been a stressful day, you deserve it.
No, you're strong...just say no. It's not worth it.
...and on and on the mental battle goes when the cravings hit. Sound familiar?
It's so dang common!
The trouble is we tend to view cravings as weaknesses, thinking that just a little more willpower is all you need to overcome it.
But most of the time cravings are our body's way of communicating with us, trying to help your body find balance in your life. It's not an issue of needing to be more disciplined, its really about finding what your body actually needs.
Next time you experience a craving, break it down. What does your body really want and why?
Common causes of cravings:
- Lack of primary food: emotions and psychological well-being have a strong effect on our cravings. Food is often used to try to fill voids in life. Are you lacking or struggling with your relationships (romantic, friendships, or family)? Is your spiritual life lacking? Is career lacking passion and fulfillment or taking too much from you?
- Dehydration: thirst and dehydration often first show up as hunger. When you find yourself reaching for the cupboard when you just ate, try drinking a glass of water instead.
- Lack of nutrients: when we consume diets void of nutrients, our bodies crave more foods trying to find the nutrients it needs. Think back to what you've eaten lately, are you lacking in any major areas? Writing out a food diary can bring about some shocking trends that you may not have noticed.
- Sugar imbalance: those processed sugars can create a real roller coaster in your body...a glucose roller coaster! This can create cravings
- Sugar and the gut: If you've got some imbalance in your gut, bacteria or yeast, they are going to wreak major havoc on your body. The kicker, they feed on simple sugars...if they're hungry, you're gonna know it! Read more on sugar and those little critters here.
- Extreme flavor foods: when you eat a super salty food, your body wants to balance this out by consuming a sweet food.
- Seasons: in cold seasons our body's crave warming foods and warm seasons we tend to crave cooling foods. These foods have a profound effect on our bodies, and when we ignore those needs our bodies tend to get louder! Instead of a bowl of ice cream on the warm summer evenings try this Strawberry Banana Cream recipe or this Cinnamon Coconut Cream recipe instead.
- Boredom: let's face it, we use food for entertainment. This isn't always a bad thing. I think food can be an excellent way to bring people together and enhance any gathering. It can be very spiritual and nurturing in this way too. But when we use food to fill that need for fulfillment we will come up short every time. Food will never be the answer for this, and the cycle this creates can get pretty nasty. Next time you reach for the cupboard, check in with yourself and see what's really going on.
- Habit: start paying attention to your daily eating habits, I'm sure you have them. It's not always a bad thing. If you're choosing healthy foods those habits are a good thing. But how many of us have created the bedtime snack routine, or the daily creamer with our coffee? The need to snack on something when you're driving or watching TV, not because you're hungry but because it's a habit. *The best way to break the bad habits is to replace it with a good one. If you need to snack while watching TV or before bed, choose something healthy. If you don't want to give up on your coffee sidekick, make it dark chocolate. If you need to snack while driving....stop! Your're driving...focus on the road:)
A few ideas to help with the cravings
- Drink a large glass of water. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or a drop of Lemon Essential Oil (certified pure therapeutic grade only, of course).
- Choose herbal teas to satisfy a sweet craving. I love Tazo's Passion tea!
- Try calling a friend or do something nice for someone. It's amazing how much our cravings come from a longing to connect with others, to be needed, or be helpful and useful in someone else's life.
- Choose a healthier version of the item you are craving. Instead of potato chips, choose a crunchy carrot with hummus or snack on some pickles.
- Check out this post for some more tools to beat the cravings!