When you crave something, what do you do? Do you give in and have it? Do you chastise yourself for not being stronger? Do you ignore it and hope it goes away? Instead of beating yourself up , use cravings as an opportunity to take time to reflect on what’s going on with your body. Look at the foods, deficits and behaviors in your life that are the underlying causes of your cravings. Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance. When you experience a craving, deconstruct it. Ask yourself, what do I really want and why do I want it?
Eight primary causes of cravings are:
- Lack of Nourishment to the Soul Being dissatisfied with a relationship or being stressed and uninspired by a job, or can cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of soul nourishment too. Make a list of things that you love to do and then make a pledge to do something from the list instead of eating something you don’t really want.
- Water Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.
- Yin/Yang Imbalance Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes 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 or vise versa. Aiming for balancing foods such as beans and grains can help keep cravings at bay.
- Inside Coming Out Often times, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s ancestral or childhood foods.
- Seasonal Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog or sweets, etc. Just as above, satisfy these cravings with healthier versions of what you’re craving.
- Lack of nutrients If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine. The body usually looks for the fastest and easiest way to obtain missing nutrients, so the food that’s being craved is not always the best way obtain what the body is deficient in. Add more leafy greens and colorful vegetables to your diet to ensure you’re getting adequate nutrition.
- Hormonal When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.
- Self Sabotage When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves.