For most of my life, I was under the impression that I needed to fight my cravings. If I ate that piece of chocolate cake, it was because I didn’t have enough willpower to say no. I always felt like such a failure if I did give in and indulge myself, like whatever progress I had made thus far was completely wiped out with one doughnut. If I’m being honest, part of the reason I went to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a Holistic Health Coach was to learn how to conquer my cravings once and for all. I thought that knowledge was power, but what I learned was that knowledge availed me nothing. IIN gave me an amazing gift, something far more powerful than knowledge, and today I want to share that gift with you!
Throughout my nutritional education, I learned that my connection to food is much deeper than calorie counting, grams of protein and added sugar. Not only did I learn it, I felt it. I learned to start listening to my cravings rather than trying to fight them all the time. This little shift in consciousness changed my relationship with food forever. I discovered that my body is perfect just the way it is…it is a complex machine that knows what it needs to thrive. It’s my head that gets in the way. I started to listen to my cravings in a whole new way…what were they telling me? Asking this simple question changed everything and led me down the path of food freedom.
Here are three things I discovered around cravings:
Your body is trying to tell you something: If you are getting strong cravings, it may be that your body is trying to tell you something super important! Don’t ignore it! Intense cravings can often indicate a nutritional deficiency. We are all born with an innate body wisdom. Our bodies know what they need and use cravings to try and get you to pay attention. Unfortunately, often times we don’t trust these cravings and we try and fight or ignore them, which in the end only intensifies them. If you’re craving something on a consistent basis, know that there is nothing wrong with you, it’s just your body trying to talk to you!
- Sugar cravings can often indicate that you are not getting enough protein in your diet. The more protein you have (preferably plant based protein) the less sugar you will crave.
- Chocolate cravings can indicate a magnesium deficiency. A great way to combat that is to increase your intake of nuts, seeds and leafy greens (yay for green smoothies!!)
- If you crave salty snacks, your body needs more water. Try increasing your daily water intake.
- Craving snacks in the middle of the afternoon often correlates with a drop in blood sugar. A great way to prevent this is to avoid going more than 4 hours without eating and to eat a low glycemic breakfast so that you aren’t setting yourself up for an intense drop in blood sugar later in the day.
It’s time to dig deeper: Cravings aren’t always indicative of a nutritional deficiency, sometimes they are in response to emotional needs. If you have tried the helpful tips above and notice that they haven’t dissipated, it may mean your cravings are a cry for comfort, love, nourishment and/or self-care. Sometimes we crave ice cream because it’s smooth texture and childhood memories take away any stress or feelings of being overwhelmed. Perhaps you crave wine at night because the more wine you have, the less you have to worry about different stressors in your life.
Whatever the craving may be, I suggest looking deeper into your life to discover how you can satisfy those cravings on a deeper, emotional level. If you are looking for relief from stress or anxiety, no food will be able to solve the deeper, underlying issue. Acknowledge those cravings and thank your body for sending you a much needed signal to go deeper and explore how you can nourish yourself on a spiritual and emotional level.
Trust your body: Knowing that your cravings are simply your body trying to talk to you is a powerful sign that you trust your body. It will take time to develop this mind/body communication pathway, to be able to discern between a nutritional deficiency and an emotional issue, but it is worth exploring. The more you trust your cravings and begin to explore them, the closer you will get to unearthing the root of the problem that’s causing the craving in the first place.
Over the next week, start to bring some conscious awareness to your cravings. Begin by identifying what types of food you crave, and start to explore whether they are indicative of physical or emotional issue. Trust that your body knows what it needs. It is an AMAZING and super powerful machine that keeps you alive everyday, and it’s just trying to talk to you 😉
Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200