EATING WELL IN KANSAS CITY - August 2018 - Kansas City
Decode Your Food Cravings and Feel Better Fast
By Angela Watson Robertson
Everyone has cravings for certain foods—be it chocolate, bread, French fries, or ice cream—and often we beat ourselves up for having cravings as if something is wrong with us. Yet, there is another way to view food cravings.
I suggest viewing your cravings as a message from your body to decode instead of a problem to be solved. With this perspective in mind you welcome a partnership with your body instead of being at war with it.
In my experience, the body is like a car or a computer. If I don’t service my car regularly and take care of it then it breaks down. I don’t get mad at or shame my car for not working properly if I failed to get an oil change or air up the tires. The car needs what it needs to run well. Our bodies are the same and cravings are critical pieces of information that tell us what those needs are. Our bodies can’t talk and tell us what they need so we have to take time to listen and that’s where cravings can help us.
When I studied at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I learned the 8 primary causes of cravings:
8 Primary Causes of Cravings
Dehydration often occurs when you are hungry, so the first thing you should do when you get an odd craving is to drink a full glass of water.
Eating is sometimes used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill a void in our lives. Are you dissatisfied with a relationship, a job, or lacking in a spiritual practice or connection? Are you exercising too much, too little, or in a way that your body no longer tolerates? Are you bored, stressed, or uninspired and what can you do about it?
Are you eating too many foods that are either extremely yin (like sugar) or too extremely yang (like meat)? Your body craves balance.
Inside Coming Out
Often cravings come from foods our ancestors have eaten or foods from our childhood. Satisfy these cravings by finding healthier versions.
Often our bodies crave foods that balance out the elements of the current season. If you’ve ever craved raw, cool fruits and ice cream in the hot summer then you know what I mean.
Lack of Nutrients
If your body is not getting adequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. If you are craving salt, you may have low mineral levels and a lack of nutrition overall produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy like caffeine.
Changes in testosterone or estrogen levels may cause unusual cravings. So if you are menstruating, pregnant, or experiencing menopause, cut yourself a break!
Sometimes we self-sabotage when things are going really well and crave foods that will throw us out of balance. Then the body craves foods to bring us back into balance. Low blood sugar plays a role in this as well and causes strong mood swings.
So, what do we do? Give in to every craving that we have indulgently? Not entirely and it depends. The key is to observe your behavior and trust that your body is needing something from what it is craving. Then, modify your diet and lifestyle to get what your body needs in a healthier way.
For instance, if you are craving sugar all of the time I’d suggest you introduce more naturally sweet vegetables, such as carrots or sweet potatoes, into your diet on a regular basis. This will “crowd out” the cakes, candy bars, and cookies over time and still give your body the energy it is craving. We can only get so far with will power and I don’t suggest forcing your body to avoid something entirely that it wants just because the latest fad diets and trends tell you it’s bad. However, there is usually a healthier option for what your body is craving that is a win-win for you and your body.
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Angela Watson Robertson, MBA, CIHC, INHC, a.k.a The Reinvention Warrior, is a well known nutrition blogger and health coach who teaches you how to transform your life starting with the food you eat. She has created simple, effective tools to help you reinvent every area of your life- from health, career and money to relationships, spirituality and sex. Find her free wellness tips, nutrition courses, and coaching programs at www.angelawatsonrobertson.com. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.