Our bodies are TRULY amazing! They are always working non-stop...constantly pumping blood, never skipping a heartbeat, digesting whatever food you put in it and maintaining homeostasis. Would this reliable, intelligent bio-computer make a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or chocolate? Are cravings due to lack of will-power or discipline? I’d like to suggest that cravings are NOT a problem. They are critical pieces of information that tell you what your body needs.
The important thing is to understand WHY you crave WHAT you crave. Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients. Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too boring or too stressful. Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message: a craving. A craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, more exercise, or more water. (NOT the delicious cupcake shown above!) The key to stopping the sugar craving is to understand and deliver what your body really needs.
No book or theory can tell you what to eat. Only awareness of your body and its needs can tell you. Of all the relationships in our lives, the one with our body is the most essential. It takes communication and time to cultivate a relationship with your body. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you will create a deep and lasting level of health and balance. The next time you have a craving, treat it as a message from your body instead of a weakness.
Cravings can also be trigger by deeper issues. In Lysa TerKeurst's book "Made to Crave" she asks us to ask ourselves: "Do I want to eat right now because I need nourishment or because I am feeling empty emotionally or spiritually? If I truly need a snack right now, I am capable of choosing a healthier option." This is a truth she committed answering that truly helped her journey to health.
Try these tips to respond to your body:
• Ask the question above. Think: what is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express, or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving? Stress from work or a fight with a family member?
• Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
• Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit or sweet root vegetables.
• When you do eat the food you are craving, remember to enjoy it, taste it, savor it; notice its effect. That way, you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time. Eating your cravings mindlessly will not help satisfy.
Sources & Additional Reading:
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, March 2011.
TerKeurst, Lysa. "Made to Crave", 2016.