What Are Your Cravings Trying To Tell You?
We've all had those longings for something sweet, salty or fried. Cravings are usually for the not-so-healthy variety of food, and they come when we least expect them. Even with the best of intentions, we've all found ourselves speeding towards the junk food aisle without even realizing it. So how do you fight off those overwhelming urges?
As a recovering sugar addict and emotional eater, I know these feelings ALL too well! Cravings are your body’s way of telling you something. Keep reading to find out how to interpret its requests and what to do about them. You can win the war over your cravings!
Where do cravings come from?
Your body is smart. If you're not consuming enough of the right things, your body will signal you to consume foods high in fat and calories because it perceives that there's famine in the land. Sadly, you may be overfed calorically but malnourished nutritionally. That's why even after consuming far more than the serving size on a package of chips you're still hungry and go in search of something more; your body is telling you that it's lacking adequate nutrition.
Cravings can indicate a lack of key nutrients or a desire to fill an emotional imbalance. You may feel encumbered by them due to consumption of foods to ying or yang (contracting and expanding). You may feel hungry when you're actually thirsty, and they can strike because you are tired, stressed, or unhappy. Any sort of imbalance in your nutrition or lifestyle can leave your body asking you to fill the void.
Cravings aren't weaknesses; they're your body’s way of telling you that it's missing something. Our bodies are wonderfully intuitive, and that's why learning to hear what your body is telling you is the biggest step to understanding and fulfilling your longings in a healthy way.
Your body tells you just what it needs, but you have to learn how to speak the language. Here are a few tips to resolve some of the most common food cravings.
Did you say "cake?"
Craving sweets can be a signal of dehydration. Grab some water and sip on it while you give your body time to rinse your sweet tooth away. Warm water is particularly helpful as it flushes out toxins.
You may also be yearning for sugar because something sweet is missing emotionally. Your body may be trying to compensate if you are stressed or unhappy. Sugar releases endorphins so consuming it makes you “feel” happy and comforted. Try finding a way to treat and comfort yourself with something other than food, like gentle stretching or a massage.
Incorporating more sweet fruits and veggies into your daily diet will create a reduction in sweet cravings. Things like sweet potatoes, carrots, apples and raisins are a wonderful way to help stave off the need for something artificially sweet. Try using gentler sweeteners like raw honey, stevia and maple syrup. You can even find wonderfully flavored stevias that are great in coffee, tea and cereals.
Pass the salt!
Cravings for salt can be a signal for missing the trace minerals in natural salt. Processed salt (table salt) is stripped of these minerals during processing. Incorporate pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax and dark chocolate to boost your intake of important minerals. Sea vegetables are a good source too. Powdered kelp is easy to throw into a smoothie. When choosing salt, it's important to buy an unrefined mineral or sea salt. A trip to your local health food store will give you choices.
The craving for fatty, fried foods usually come from your body’s need to consume just that: fat. Remember that all fats are not created equal! If you find yourself craving fries, fried chicken or anything oily, try supplementing with healthier fats. Eating avocados, raw nuts like almonds and cashews, and consuming a serving or two of coconut oil can help give your body the fat it needs without exposing yourself to harmful partially hydrogenated oils and trans fats.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is that your body is perfect in every way. It breathes, pumps blood and converts food to fuel for all of your cells. Learn to listen to your body and trust that it only has the very best intentions in its requests. Love your body and listen to it and you will find in a short time that you will become more in tune with your nutritional needs and cravings will start to become a thing of the past!
Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.