Cravings are your body's way of communicating what it needs. If you're craving something like ice cream, what about it are you craving? Maybe it's a hot summer day and you want something sweet and cold. Maybe you're craving it because you used to eat ice cream as a kid with your family, and you want to feel comforted. Maybe your life is lacking love and physical touch...and you use ice cream to fill that void.
Understanding your cravings can be a really powerful tool to help you feel better. All it takes from you is a little bit of introspection and awareness. If you can figure out why you are having cravings, it will help you see clearly what your body needs to feel satisfied.
So, check in with your body. What are you craving?
There are 8 different causes of cravings. Many of them have to do with your physical body, but some cravings are because of many important areas of your life and how they are all connected. Fulfillment and balance in relationships, physical activity, career, and spirituality all play a big part in the things you may be craving.
Causes of cravings:
1. Lack of primary food (Relationships, Career, Physical Activity, Spirituality) - You might be filling yourself up with a satisfying career, but have stopped cultivating the relationships you care about. Many people try to satisfy their hunger for primary food with actual food. You may be reaching for the bag of chips, but maybe what you really are craving is a hug from a friend.
Simple Solutions (you can do today!) to Satisfy Primary Food Cravings:
- call a friend
- compliment someone
- go for a walk
- get a massage
- be in nature
- set a goal for your career
- write in a journal
- take some deep, therapeutic belly breaths
- play with your dog
- ask someone out
2. Water (dehydration or over-hydration) - This isn't news: dehydration is commonly mistaken for hunger. So, before you start eating, try having a glass of water. Carrying a water bottle during the day will help you remember to stay hydrated. Often times, this is the number one cause of sugar cravings.
3. Food imbalances - We can get addicted to foods. Let's say, that new poke place down the street, because it's so freaking delicious and convenient. However, eating sodium-rich foods like poke almost every day can cause food imbalances. When we have too much of one thing, our body starts craving it more or even the opposite type of food to balance it out. After observing that you've been consuming too much of one thing, start by deciding to decrease your intake by little amounts and remember to drink plenty of water.
4. Inside coming out - Some cravings are associated with foods our ancestors ate, foods we ate as children, and foods we ate recently. Try experimenting with foods your ancestors ate and healthier versions of foods you used to eat as a kid.
5. Seasonal - We crave foods that will help us balance, especially seasonal foods. When it's summer, we tend to crave cooling foods like raw food, fruit, vegetables, and ice cream. In the Springtime we crave detoxifying foods like greens and smoothies. During the Fall we crave grounding foods like nuts, root vegetables, and spices. During the Winter we crave warm foods like meats, soups, and stews. Many cravings can be associated with the holidays, like sweets or specific holiday dishes.
6. Lack of nutrients - If we are not eating plenty of beautiful, nutritious foods, the body lets us know what it needs through cravings. This can happen when we eat too much fast food or when we completely eliminate a food group (like going on a specific diet). In this case the body may produce intense cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy like caffeine.
7. Hormonal or stress - Imbalances in hormone levels can cause unique cravings, especially for pregnant and menstruating women.
8. "De-evolution" - When things are going well, sometimes we sabotage ourselves and crave foods or situations that throw us off, causing us to crave even more things that bring us down. This can happen because of low blood sugar levels, which can lead to intense mood swings.
After practicing being aware of your body, you will begin to acknowledge the differences between these cravings. Whether they are physical, emotional, or spiritual, you will start to see how these cravings show up in your life. Find what works best for you to help you understand your body more and feed it what it really needs.