We all experience them…mid-morning, mid-afternoon, before bedtime. You want something sweet, something salty, something creamy. The feeling is rarely a fleeting thought. It can be so strong at times that there is little you can do to resist. And when you give in to the temptation? You guessed it…the self-criticism can come on just as strong.
A craving is not just a whim. It’s your body telling you something. Your body is an amazing machine that wants to stay in balance. Cravings are messages telling you that something is missing or out of balance.
Cravings surface for any number of reasons. Here are the most common:
Dehydration – The average adult body is made up of over 50% water, and it constantly loses fluid through respiration, perspiration and urination. That means it can be hard to keep up on fluid levels. Dehydration feels a lot like hunger. The two are so similar that we mistake thirst for hunger about 40% of the time. The next time you feel those hunger pangs, savor a tall glass of plain or lemon flavored water. Better yet, drink water throughout the day to keep your body and your cells well-hydrated.
Nutritional deficiencies – When your body doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, it can’t operate at it optimum. And when it struggles to function, it calls for help…often in the form of cravings for sugar, fat or caffeine. Nourish your body every day with a wide variety of macro- and micronutrients (fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals). Fats, carbohydrates and protein are primary fuel sources for your body. Without a good mix, your body can feel depleted. Colorful vegetables and seasonal fruit provide important antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that help with metabolic processes and keep your body nourished.
Blood sugar imbalance – Skipping meals, waiting too long between meals, or over-indulging at any one meal can cause insulin or cortisol to spike. These spikes are the body doing its best to stay in balance, but over time results in the body not knowing what “balance” really is. Maintain consistent mealtimes and a consistent intake of macronutrients to keep cravings at bay and your body working at its optimum.
Hormonal fluctuations – Normal body transitions such as menstruation, pregnancy, menopause and andropause result in fluctuations in testosterone, estrogen and progesterone. These fluctuations can lead to unique and uncontrollable cravings. What’s the best thing to do? Opt for the healthiest choices possible in the short-term while you focus on improving your hydration, overall nutrition and blood sugar balance for the long-term.
Emotional triggers – This is a big one. When the social / emotional / physical side of life is lacking, it’s easy to reach for food to alleviate the loneliness, stress, lack of exercise, or an uninspired purpose in life. Food is a powerful emotional filler. Give thought to the nourishment you need in your life beside food. Is it an exercise routine, closer relationships, a feeling of belonging, spiritual fulfillment, a hobby, a little pampering? Before reaching for that bag of cookies or chips, dig deep. Then opt for a walk around the block or a chat with a close friend to help fill the void you are feeling in the moment.
For more suggestions for overcoming cravings, contact me at 303-442-2492 or by email.
Here’s to your health and vitality!
I believe good health is as close as your kitchen. My nutrition practice is based on nutrient-dense, whole food and lifestyle choices that support health and wellness, especially during times of high stress and transitions. My role is to educate, guide and support individuals who want to break the stress-induced cycle of depletion and regain control of their health. Having passed the HNCB exam, I am a Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition® (Candidate). To learn more, contact me at 303-442-2492 or by email.