Updated: Jan 18
Simple and effective signals that you can begin tuning into today.
By Amy Spooner
Today I thought I would share the most important aspects of cravings - understanding why we get them, and then of course, some tips on how to better deal with them. Do you ever get frustrated by your intense cravings? It's totally normal, friend. We can’t control them, we give in to them, and then we feel guilty. It happens to all of us. For many people especially women, its chocolate and sugar. For other’s it's salty and greasy foods. But what most people don’t know is that there is a good reason for those cravings!
Our body is an incredible machine. It knows when to sleep, when to go to the bathroom, how to maintain a temperature of 98.6 degrees F, how to keep the heart beating, and how to heal itself when wounded. But in order for your body to do all of its functions, it needs the right nutrients, proper rest, and love. When we feel cravings, our bodies are trying to send us a message that we need something, think of it as an SOS of sorts. Something is out of balance and needs to be corrected. So this is why it is important to deconstruct your cravings so that you can fuel your body well, with the foods it needs, not just what your brain is wanting. This way you will avoid over-indulging, and spare yourself the feeling of guilt. Here are a few key things to think about when your body signals to you that it desperately wants something sweet, greasy, or salty.
Lack of water. This is typically the cause of most cravings. So try drinking a glass of water next time you have a craving and give it a few minutes to see how you feel. You can also have some herbal (non-caffeinated) tea. Drinking plenty of water and tea in between meals will generally help reduce all cravings. I strive for 8-12 oz before each meal and first thing in the morning to get my system going.
Stress. Stress and anxiety from personal relationship issues, from work, from not completing your to-do list, etc. Acknowledge the underlying cause, take a deep breath and focus on ways to relieve your stress instead of eating. What has helped me during times of stress is a breathing app created by Wim Hof. I practice several times a week.
Boredom. We often eat when we’re bored, so try to take note of that, and instead of eating, go do something fun and/or productive!
Yin-Yang imbalance. Certain foods have more Yin qualities and others more Yang qualities. When you eat a lot of foods on one side of the spectrum, your body naturally craves foods on the other side in order to reach balance. For example, sugar is yin while meat is yang, so eating a lot of meat can lead to sugar cravings. Or when you eat a lot of raw foods (yin), your body may crave some cooked / dehydrated foods (yang).
Lingering palette. We often crave foods that we've recently been eating. You know the feeling when you had something yummy yesterday and you want more of it? For this, I highly recommend tongue scraping which will remove the residue on your tongue and help avoid this type of craving.
Seasons. We often crave foods due to the weather outside, and this again is your body trying to find balance. So for example, in the summer we crave cool, raw foods, while in the winter we crave warm and heavier foods. The key here is to find healthy options, so in the summer, look for refreshing seasonal fruits like berries and watermelon. And in the winter, when most are craving comfort food, stick to wholesome ingredients like root veggies, and gut healing broths.
Lack of nutrients. This is a BIG one and I consider it one of the most important to understand. There are physical explanations for almost all common food cravings. Specific cravings are linked to specific vitamin and mineral deficiencies. But most generally, lack of proper nutrition will make you constantly crave a quick form of energy like caffeine, sugar, etc. So if you’re constantly craving coffee or sugar, I’d suggest eating a more balanced diet filled with fresh whole foods, organic protein, healthy fats, and cutting down on packaged foods (which are mostly void of proper nutrients).
Hormones. This is especially relevant for women. During the different phases of your menstrual cycle, the fluctuation of your hormones will often create unique cravings. So its very important to know and understand what goes on in your body during each stage, so that you can be prepared and give your body what it really needs.
Many people that know me , also know that I adore sugar. I now have been able to make huge progress on that front by really focusing on the potential root causes. In particular, I was always craving chocolate. So I researched this and realized chocolate cravings are usually linked to a magnesium deficiency, and let me tell you, my cravings have gotten way better since I addressed that imbalance. I also faced emotional and "lingering palette" triggers. I always felt I "needed" something sweet right after lunch and dinner. Giving it some thought, it occurred to me that this was, to a large degree, out of pure habit because I grew up having dessert after meals. Now when I don’t give in to this craving, it subsides, as my body doesn't actually need dessert after meals, especially now that I’m eating more balanced meals.
Apart from those sweet cravings, I also find that when I’m sad, I feel like mindless eating. So now I become aware of my emotions; I acknowledge that I’m sad, but also that eating won’t help. Instead of mindlessly snacking, I indulge by taking the afternoon off and watching a favorite show, reading some of a good book, or taking a walk. I feel so much better, which means my body is telling me that I need some self-loving and “me” time, not more food!
So when you experience a craving, ask yourself, "what does my body need, and why?" Start paying closer attention to your body’s messages, and your thoughts. Try going for a walk, calling family or friends, make yourself herbal tea, or create a gratitude list. Anything to distract you for 15-30 mins, and then see if your craving is still there. Most often times it’ll be gone. If it’s still there, refer back to this guide on what else might be a root issue.
Lastly, for those of you who crave sugar in particular, a good detox from sugar for just 10 days can immensely help to make those cravings go away. The biggest hurdle of it is getting out of your poor habits, and creating new healthier ones. With just 10 days of no added sugars, your body will thank you, and will have so much more natural energy. Not only that, sweet whole foods will start to taste differently, and those sugar laden treats will be too sweet to eat an excess of. Trust me, it will change your life. This detox is perfect to do before the holidays, to get the "sugar monster" in check. This detox will also be great for those with possible food sensitivities, or in general, people looking to jumpstart a healthier lifestyle. Join me for a 10 Day Sugar Detox Workshop November 2nd, and email me at email@example.com for more information/ or to register.