Navigating through our cravings can sometimes be tricky, but when we are able to tune in and get clear on where the cravings are coming from, we become empowered to make choices that support our health and wellbeing.
Cravings always carry important messages for us. There is often something lacking in our life that needs attention and nurturing. In our culture, we are working too much, doing too much, and not taking the time to rest. We push really hard to feel a sense of achievement and success, and the overwhelming pressure we experience leaves us feeling constricted. We crave foods with expansive properties, like sugar, chocolate, coffee and alcohol (hello happy hour!) to give us a feeling of openness and expansion.
The more in the moment we are, the more we can fully enjoy the experience of our meal and the beauty of creating it. Connecting with our food to make it a gratifying sensory experience gives us a deeper sense of connection to the world around us. Tasting all of the flavors, textures, and nutrients in our meal offers a deep sense of fulfillment, satisfaction, and pleasure. We just need to slow down enough to fully savor the experience.
Common Craving Triggers
A huge factor that almost always triggers strong cravings is dehydration. If you are not hydrated properly, you will automatically crave food, even when you’re not hungry. Next time you are ravenous between meals, ask yourself, “Am I hungry or thirsty right now?”
When we don’t get enough rest, our bodies produce more of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which generally makes us crave food all day long if we haven’t had proper rest. You will also notice that when your sleep isn’t the best you end up craving more carbohydrates and sweets to soothe the body and uplift you in some way.
Types of Cravings
This is when our body literally craves what it’s lacking physiologically. This is our innate body wisdom seeking support for healing and balance. This often times why women crave chocolate around their menstrual cycle, for example. Raw chocolate is very high in magnesium, which a women’s body needs more of during her menses to support her cycle.
When we are triggered in some way that really hurts us, we experience an alienation from ourselves. We reach to food to soothe ourselves the way a baby would with mother’s milk. We are all emotional eaters in some way, but it’s important that we pay attention to what’s happening beneath the surface. Check in with yourself: is it really emotional or is it that I skipped breakfast or have been choosing foods that under nourish me? This is your body craving nutrition. Get clear with yourself.
The body is a balance-seeking instrument. If you consume lots of expansive substances (like sugar and coffee), you’ll crave contractive substance (like salty foods & cheese). This is the body’s natural attempt to create internal equilibrium. If you are stressed or working too much this will also cause you to feel contracted. This triggers cravings for expansive “foods” like sugar, alcohol, and coffee which give us a temporary feeling of openness. We also tend to reach for chocolate and sweets when we are lacking sweetness in our lives. The key here is to eat more neutral foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to help keep you centered instead of constantly moving from one extreme to the other.
How to manage cravings
1. Ask yourself, “Am I hungry or thirsty right now?”
2. Go for a walk or do something physical to engage your body.
3. Journal to get in touch with your feelings.
4. Call a friend or loved one if you’re craving sweets, love or connection.
5. Meditate, get a massage, take some deep breaths or listen to soothing music to help alleviate stress and get closer to yourself.
6. Use essential oils topically, aromatically or internally (food grade) to center, uplift and reground yourself. Here are a few of my favorites: grapefruit, lemon, white angelica, sandalwood and frankincense.
7. Make a sugar free tonic or warm water with lemon.
8. Eat more neutral foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds. To ground, regain balance, and keep us from moving from one extreme to the other.
9. Reach out for the support of a nutritionist to help work through emotional patterns, triggers or health ailments.
Let’s tune into our senses and ourselves and look deeper to understand where our cravings are coming from and why. This is extremely important in transforming our bodies, healing, and creating harmony with our relationship to food and our relationship to life.
photo credit: Joshua Ness