Navigating food cravings can be tricky, but when we're able to tune in and get clear on where the cravings are coming from, we become empowered to make choices that support our health and well-being.
Cravings always carry important messages, often signifying that something in our life is lacking or needs attention and nurturing.
The key factors that trigger cravings
A huge factor that almost always triggers strong cravings is dehydration. If you are not properly hydrated, you will automatically crave food, even when you’re not hungry. Next time you are ravenous between meals, ask yourself, Am I hungry or thirsty right now?
Another huge component is sleep. When we don’t get enough rest, our bodies produce more of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which can make you crave things you don't need—especially carbs and sweets.
3 different types of cravings
There are several different types of cravings, but these are three of the most common:
Nutrient cravings: These occur when our body literally craves what it’s lacking physiologically. For instance, women often crave chocolate around their menstrual cycles. Raw chocolate is very high in magnesium, which we all need more of during menstruation to support our cycles.
Emotional cravings: When we are emotionally triggered, we experience an alienation from ourselves and reach to food as a source of comfort. We are all emotional eaters in some way, but it’s important that we pay attention to what’s happening beneath the surface. Check in with yourself from time to time and ask if you're eating because you need nourishment or if you're just emotional.
Balance cravings: The body is a balance-seeking instrument. If you consume lots of expansive substances (like sugar and coffee), you’ll crave contractive substance (like salty foods and cheese). This is the body’s natural attempt to create internal equilibrium. The key here is to eat more neutral foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds to help keep you centered instead of constantly moving from one extreme to the other.
Healthy ways to move past all of 'em:
- Ask yourself, Am I hungry or thirsty right now?
- Go for a walk or do something physical to engage your body.
- Journal to get in touch with your feelings.
- Call a friend or loved one if you’re craving sweets, love, or connection.
- Meditate, get a massage, take some deep breaths, or listen to soothing music to help alleviate stress and get closer to yourself.
- Use essential oils to center, uplift, and reground yourself. A few of my favorites are grapefruit, lemon, white angelica, sandalwood, and frankincense
- Make a sugar-free tonic or warm water with lemon.
- Eat more neutral foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Reach out for the support of a therapist or healer to help work through lingering emotional patterns and triggers.