Do you ever find yourself having a craving for a specific food and wonder why?
Cravings are information. They could indicate a biological imbalance or nutritional deficiencies, and they can occur due to physical or emotional reasons. In this article, I will explore the eight main physical reasons you may be experiencing a craving and what to do about it.
First is dehydration. Sometimes our brains can confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking one to two glasses of water first thing in the morning can help with this. Also, drink a glass of water 30 minutes before every meal, and stay hydrated throughout the day.
Extreme hunger is the second reason we may experience a craving. Our bodies revolt when we go on extreme diets or restrict eating for any reason. To combat this, tune into your body’s needs. Focus on deep breathing, eat nourishing foods on a regular basis, and be mindful of added sugars and salt.
The third reason is our food history. We may crave a certain food due to a personal history with this food or a cultural reason. Try healthier versions of cultural foods or for foods you associate with a positive experience in your past.
Hormones also play a role in experiencing cravings. Cortisol regulates metabolism during stress, but when it is always elevated we can react like the Incredible Hulk!
Some tips for keeping this from happening are to eat more fiber, limit caffeine and alcohol, and move throughout the day. Prioritize getting seven to eight hours of sleep per night, and create space for self-care.
The fifth reason we might experience cravings is lack of nutrients. A craving could be the body’s way of telling us we’re not satiated due to lack of healthy food. The way to battle this is to eat real and nourishing whole foods. Remember to be mindful of added sugars and salt.
A change in seasons might also trigger a craving. Our bodies try to maintain homeostasis or internal stability as it adjusts to external conditions and temperature changes. This might be why you crave ice cream in the summer and chili in the winter.
For this type of craving, try to be more flexible with your eating style. For example, add some meat or nuts if you tend to eat mainly vegetables and fruit. And let yourself enjoy some special foods, especially during the holidays or at special occasion events such as birthdays and anniversaries.
A seventh physical trigger of a craving is stagnant energy. Exercise might decrease cravings. We often eat better when we move more.
Finally, a Yin-Yang imbalance can result in a craving or cravings. Yin (Chinese for “female” or “moon”) would mean eating lighter foods such as salads, fruit, and raw veggies. Yang (Chinese for “male” or “sun” ) results in eating comfort foods such as creamy soups, red meat, or casseroles. If you think you are too yin, add grounding foods such as those I just listed. If you are too yang, add some lighter foods.
Next month I will talk about emotional cravings and give you more tips for dealing with all of these. In the meantime, enjoy Thanksgiving! Remember to eat mindfully. Enjoy your favorite dishes by eating a small serving of each. This will help you avoid a food coma! And, as always, please reach out to me if you have any questions.
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I received my training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I learned about more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I will help you create a completely personalized “roadmap to health” that suits your unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals.
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