We all experience cravings on a daily basis. At 10am, that donut looks delicious. At 12pm, that greasy slice of pizza seems irresistible. And so on.
Every day we have to resist these insidious temptations and blame ourselves if we succumb to them. We think we're weak and punish ourselves with unflattering thoughts if we are not strong enough to live a "perfectly healthy" life.
But what if I tell you that your body is trying to tell you something with these cravings? After all, our bodies are amazing bio-computers that never make mistakes. This system of approximately 100 trillion cells is more intricate than that of the next generation Apple or Mac computers.
All these cells are connected and work together 24/7 to make sure we breathe, smell, hear, see, feel, move, experience hunger, and more.
So how does this relate to cravings? Actually, cravings are essential messages sent by our bodies that something is missing. They are powerful cues that may assist in bringing and maintaining balance.
Next time when the urge to eat something hits you, stop for a minute, breathe, and try to think what, exactly, and why you're craving this particular food. Are you truly hungry, or is this just a whim? Try to be mindful about what is happening and how it will make you feel after you succumb to that temptation.
There are many reasons we experience these bursts of desires but the major causes for cravings are:
1. You're dehydrated.
Roughly 70 percent of an adult’s body is made up of water so inadequate water content will send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration manifests itself as a hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.
2. You've got nutritional deficiencies.
In order to operate at our optimum capacity, we need to nourish our bodies every day with a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients. If the body doesn’t get enough nutrients, it will send messages in the form of cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overal inadequate nutrition can lead to cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like sugar or caffeine.
3. You're hormonal.
When females go through menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. Sometimes it is beyond our control, ladies, but we can always opt for healthier options to satisfy our temptations.
4. You've got underlying emotional issues.
Staying in an unhappy relationship, feeling lonely, being disappointed with the opposite sex, being stressed, or uninspired by career, lacking a spiritual practice, or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong kind) may all lead to emotional eating. In these cases food serves as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of primary food. Would one go to that fridge at 11pm and grab that chocolate ice cream if they were with the loving partner who would tell them how much they care about them? Probably not. Would one go for that donut at 3pm if they were immersed in the interesting project they were working on? Probably not. It is always good to look at all areas of our life and be aware that sometimes it’s not the food we desire but other forms of nourishment: love, inspiration, friendship, fulfilling career, movement, hobby or a feeling to belong somewhere.
5. You have a yin/yang imbalance.
Some foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods possess more yang qualities (contractive). Consuming too many yin foods or too many yang foods will cause cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods and vice versa.