Understanding & Managing Cravings

Do you ever feel like you want to eat even though you aren’t hungry? Maybe you just ate a whole meal yet you crave something sweet? Drinking coffee and really want a donut to go with it? Often we feel like cravings are weaknesses, but really it’s our body trying to tell us something. Let’s look into the top 5 reasons of what could potentially be causing your cravings.

  1. Primary Food. Sometimes we aren’t happy with current situations in our every day lives. A lack of primary food, what nourishes us off the plate, could make us seek comfort in food. For example, when we’re stressed from a job or finances, experiencing a loss of some sort, or in a bad relationship, food provides a sense of ease and comfort through the gut-mind connection. We’re using food as a strategy to fulfill areas of our life that we aren’t satisfied with.

  2. Hydration. It’s well known that water is the key to a balanced diet. If we don’t drink enough water our electrolyte balance is completely thrown off. When you sweat, you lose water. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a great way to detox your body. The key is that we rehydrate. Studies have shown that drinking a glass of water before eating has been shown to reduce the amount of food we consume during a meal and if you feel any type of craving when you aren’t hungry, drink a glass of water. You’ll be surprised how quickly you forget about that craving!

  3. Inner child. Did you ever make homemade ice cream at your Grandma’s house growing up? Maybe the only meal your family was ever able to enjoy together at the dinner table was a big bowl of pasta and garlic bread with boxed brownies for desert. Foods that strike up happy childhood memories provide us comfort and take us back to days when we didn’t know any better and felt all was happy and right in an ultimately scary world. When we crave foods like this, we’re often seeking that feeling of comfort we felt as children in an attempt to re-create positive experiences.

  4. Change of seasons. Cookies, ham, turkey, noodles, chili during cold months. Leafy greens, lighter fares, citrus fruits, lemonade, sweet tea and ice cream during the warmer months. The body often craves what’s in season or related to certain holidays. This can also correlate strongly with the previous cause, your inner child.

  5. Hormones. Ladies………I’m talking to you. Men…..I’m sure you’ve dealt with it with the women in your lives. Fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels can cause women during menopause, menstruation or pregnancy to have some unusual cravings. Cortisol is a stress hormone secreted by the adrenals. This goes for both men and women. When we’re stressed our hormones fluctuate and can promote unique cravings.

So how do you manage cravings? My first go to is to drink a glass of water as mentioned above in #2. Meditation is also a great way to get out of your own head. It can help in the area of primary food and with stress. Headspace is my go-to app and top recommendation for those beginning to explore mediation. What’s most important is that you listen to your body and try to understand the message it’s sending you. You are your body’s own expert. I’ve said it over and over again. No one understands your body like you do. Once you’re in tune to it, the changes you can make are amazing. Just remind yourself that change is difficult and any change you’re trying to make isn’t going to occur overnight. You may revert back to old habits because they’re familiar to you and you feel lost otherwise, but be patient with yourself. Going off track is part of the process. It will happen and you will get discouraged, but don’t let your mind play games with you and never give up.