Your body is a biocomputer. It knows when to go to sleep, when to wake up, and when to go to the bathroom. It maintains a temperature of 37c, repairs itself when wounded, and breaks down food into usable energy and nutrients. Your heart never misses a beat and your lungs never miss a breath. Your body is constantly processing information and monitoring your environment to make necessary internal adjustments to help keep you balanced.
Many people view cravings as weaknesses, but often, they’re important messages from your body to guide you in maintaining balance.
When you experience a craving, see it from another perspective and deconstruct it. Ask yourself, “What is my body trying to tell me?”
To offer you some insight, here’s some possible reasons behind your cravings and how to navigate them…
Lack of Primary Food
First of all, what is Primary Food? The food we choose to eat and therefore our health is controlled by Primary Foods such as the quality of our relationships, career and physical activity, just to name a few. Experiencing stressful relationships, having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little, or the wrong kind) or feeling uninspired at work, can all cause emotional eating.
Many people try to cope with uncomfortable emotions or difficult situations by seeking balance through food. Food can sometimes provide a form of relief or even an escape when you’re under stress. In this way, food is being used as a strategy to fulfill areas of primary food that aren’t being satisfied.
Lack Of Water
Staying hydrated is a great way to help reduce extreme cravings. It may even help regulate the amount eaten to match your needs more closely. A glass of water before eating has actually been shown to reduce the amount of food consumed during a meal.
Another factor to consider is that your hydration status affects your body’s electrolyte balance. When you sweat and lose water, you also lose electrolytes, like sodium. This may lead you to seek out sodium-rich foods following an intense workout.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, certain foods are more yin (expansive), while others are more yang (contractive). Within this theory, foods that are too yin or too yang may lead you to crave the opposite in an attempt to maintain balance. This theory suggests eating foods that are more neutral (like whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans) and avoiding extremes on either end that may lead to cravings.
For example, eating a diet rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang) and eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for heavily cooked foods (yang).
Recent Eatings & Childhood
Cravings often come from foods you’ve recently eaten or foods from your childhood. Recently eaten foods tend to be fresh in your mind, so you’re more likely to crave that food in an attempt to re-create a positive eating experience. Similarly, when you crave foods from your childhood, you may really be seeking the feeling of comfort those foods may have provided when you were younger.
The body often craves foods in accordance with the season. In the spring, people crave lighter foods, like leafy greens or citrus fruits. In the summer, people crave cooling foods, like raw foods and ice cream. In the fall, people tend to crave grounding foods, like squash, onions, and nuts, and many crave heat-producing foods, like meat, oil, and fat, in the winter. Cravings can also be associated with seasonal holidays. For example, turkey, eggnog, or cake.
Lack of Nutrients
If the body has inadequate nutrients, it might produce odd cravings. An extreme example of this is a disorder called pica, which leads to extreme cravings of non food items, like clay. This condition may arise due to a chronic iron deficiency.
When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. Stress has also been shown to alter hormones which can cause cravings.
Reverting To Old Habits On Your Health Journey
Any big change that you make, dietary or otherwise, isn’t going to happen overnight. Sometimes, you may revert to old habits because they are familiar or you’re not totally ready to let go of them. If this happens, remember to be patient with yourself – take a step back and recognize that even if your diet went off track briefly, you don’t have to throw in the towel! In fact, this is often just a part of the process of changing your diet.
So give yourself a moment right now and ask yourself…
“What is my body wanting at this moment in time?”
Would a good ‘old chat with a friend help right now? Would a big glass of water do the trick? How about rewriting your trusty shopping list to include more seasonal foods?
Enjoy becoming increasingly self-aware and explore the ideas above to help you and your cravings. You can do it! *Cheering you on!*
To health and happiness,