I WANT! Unravelling 6 reasons of cravings…
You know cravings as well as I do… we all have them. That sneaky little spark of irrational desire that erupts into our psyche – uninvited and unexpected.
They can really throw a curve-ball when you are trying to lead a healthy, balanced life. And let’s be frank – riding the sugar rollercoaster doesn’t offer up much but energy highs, emotional slumps and excess belly weight. Sounds delightful.
Other times, it feels good to give in to a craving, when you know what it is, why you are craving and yet you still really just want to have a taste. There is nothing wrong with that – colouring outside of the square is just as important in leading a balanced, healthy life as is eating right and avoiding junk.
Sometimes what we crave, thankfully, is healthy for us – right now as the weather warms up all I can think about are Mangoes. Other times as hard as we try to eat well all we can think about are cookies, nutella straight from the jar, cake, croissants…
I remember a friend once telling me that she could literally ‘hear’ the candy calling her from her pantry. True story. I did think she was little nuts, but I also understood her anxiety all too well! Sometimes that little voice inside our heads can get quite loud!
What we crave can be a little confusing – it is often indicative of the body lacking in certain nutrients even though it doesn’t yell out ‘Kale!’ or ‘Green Beans’… if only it were that specific. Instead, I want to talk about why we have cravings.
There our quite a few reasons for cravings – some more obvious, others a little more complex. I find that with myself and my clients as soon as the attention is on the cravings they tend to diminish. The simple act of ‘awareness’ often allows us to step back, look at them objectively, begin to understand and then take control.
To help you on the awarenss road, the below are 6 reasons as to why we crave. During my studies we focused alot on the beauty of the human body. This really rang true with me – think about it, our bodies are like a high-tech super computer. It knows when to sleep & wake up, regulate temperature, pass waste, breath, maintain a pulse, create life, sneeze when it’s dusty… and on it goes.
So, what makes us think that when we crave something that it isn’t, also, a signal from the body? Well it is! And by understanding those signals we can in turn master our cravings. After all it takes 3 weeks to retrain the body to crave different foods and break old habits.
1) Water – often when you are craving something it could simply be dehydration – which can manifest as mild hunger. So drink up first and then see how you are feeling.
2) Emotions – boredom, stress, lack of inspiration and motivation – essentially feeling a bit crap which leads to emotional eating. Notice how you often reach for a sweet or snack after a stressful day at work, or if the day is dragging on and you are bored? If you can identify yourself in this situaton try and substitute your craving with something healthy or take a break, go for a walk and spend 5 minutes reassessing the situation you are in.
3) Leftovers – this one surprised me at first but I soon came to realise how true it is. Often we crave foods that we have recently eaten, foods from our childhood or from our ancestors.You can out-wit this one by reaching for healthier versions of what you are craving.
4) Seasons – the fact that I am craving mangoes is more to do with my association with mangoes and summer, rather than the actual taste of the mango. But deeper than that, the body knows what it needs when – so I am craving lighter, crunchy, cool meals and summer fruits to feel balanced and refreshed within the heat of the summer.
5) Hormones – ladies, we’ve all been here. Crave chocolate when you are PMSing/in your cycle? Well, that’s probably the magnesium (muscle relaxant) that your body needs. Our fluctuating hormone levels – guys included – can have the body sending signals all over the place, craving this and that. Search for the healthy option when your taste buds start calling.
6) Nutrients – inadequate nutrients = odd cravings! Tired and lethargic? Well, you’ll often crave caffeine and sugar because the mind and the body are looking for energy. Satiate yourself in a more nutrient dense way and opt for choices that benefit the body in the long-term.
Take some time to run through these in your head when you hit the 3pm sugar-rush hour. You might find that you are just bored, thirsty or needing some energy from a nutrient deficient lunch. If so, reach for a banana, or even a carrot and dip and then see how you feel.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live.