Many people view cravings as a sign of weakness, something to be conquered; but are they?
I believe that the body is an amazingly complicated super computer that has a good reason for everything it does, not something inherently flawed that needs to be fixed.
Have you ever stopped to consider that your food cravings might be your body’s way of trying to communicate with you? That they are important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance? That your body is trying to tell you to be “just right” it needs more or less of something?
When you experience a craving, instead of getting mad, what if you got curious and tried to figure out what your body wanted and why? Try it.
What you discover may surprise you! The first step in understanding your cravings is to be familiar with what often causes them.
10 Causes of Cravings
1. Brain chemistry. Eating certain foods, especially those high in sugar, salt and fat, can trigger release of the feel good chemical – dopamine. This can then set up a situation where when your brain sees, smells or thinks about certain foods, it says “gimme some of that!” In our modern world where food is everywhere this desire can get triggered way too often.
2. Lack of water. 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.
3. Stress. When you are in a stressful state or experiencing mood lows your body may have become conditioned to seek out sugar in order to bring your mood up or relieve you of stressful feelings through the release of those magical feel good chemicals like dopamine.
4. Low energy/low blood sugar. Your body will crave sugar when it needs energy. Dips in blood sugar and hypoglycemia can cause both cravings and strong mood swings.
5. Hormones. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. These can include carbohydrate cravings from low serotonin levels common in women with premenstrual syndrome.
6. Past memories. We sometimes get cravings for foods that we have eaten recently, foods eaten by our ancestors and foods from our childhood. For example, my grandmother recently died and as I think about her I’ve been craving the foods I used to share with her – tea, peanut brittle, homemade bread with molasses. Cravings for foods like turkey, eggnog or sweets, can also be associated with the holiday memories.
7. Changing seasons. Often the body craves seasonal foods. In the spring, you may crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, you may want cooling foods like fruit, raw vegetables or salads and ice cream, and in the fall grounding foods like root vegetables, onions and nuts. During winter, it’s natural to crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat.
8. An unfulfilled life. Being dissatisfied with your relationship or having the wrong exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, uninspired by your job or lacking a spiritual practice can all cause cravings and emotional eating.
9. Yin/yang imbalance. Chinese medicine theory suggests that certain foods have expansive or yin qualities, while other foods have more contractive or yang qualities. Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings of the opposite foods in order to maintain balance.
10. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it can produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels can produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition can cause cravings for non-nutritious forms of energy, like caffeine.
Martha is a Healthy Weight Loss Coach and Cooking Coach who loves to share ways to make cooking and eating simple and delicious and help you stop dieting and instead discover the pleasure of happy healthy balanced eating, cooking and living.
Sign up to receive her FREE Healthy Homemade Granola Bar Recipes eBooklet and future tips, techniques, ideas and easy recipes to help you live a healthier, happier more nourished life.