Ever wondered what causes cravings? Most of us see cravings as a sign of weakness, something we need to overcome to maintain good health or our ideal weight. But cravings can actually be a good thing if we know how to interpret them.
Our bodies are incredibly intelligent, so it’s important to recognize that cravings are actually the body’s way of talking to us and letting us know we need something. There’s an imbalance that needs to be corrected–emotional or physical. Now we just have to figure out what it is.
While I can’t give you a comprehensive list identifying the source of all food cravings–that’s very personal and unique to the individual–I can tell you that there are some common themes when it comes to identifying your body’s cravings. The next time you find yourself up against a strong craving, stop and think about these eight things. What is your body telling you? How can you satisfy your craving in a healthy way and help your body function at its best?
Causes of Food Cravings
The eight primary causes of cravings are listed below. You can probably identify with at least one, and maybe even more.
1. Lack of primary food. Primary foods are the things that feed us emotionally (career, relationships, creativity, spirituality, etc.) Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little, or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can also be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of insufficient primary food.
2. Water. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. (Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.)
3. Yin/yang imbalance. Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods or vise versa.
4. Inside coming out. Often, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s ancestral or childhood foods.
5. Seasons. Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods, and ice cream. During the fall, people crave grounding foods like squash, onions, and nuts. When winter hits, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil, and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog, or sweets–something nostalgic for you.
6. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.
7. Hormones. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.
8. De-evolution. When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood-sugar and may result in strong mood swings.
The next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of a weakness. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you will create a deep and lasting level of health and balance.
Article by Faithful Provisions contributor Calie Shackleford
Beat Sugar Cravings!
Want to learn how to beat sugar cravings? If you’re dealing with significant or regular sugar cravings, Calie invites you to attend her upcoming Sugar Blues workshop. This workshop is FREE for Faithful Provisions followers. You’ll learn: The causes of sugar cravings, how to decipher your specific cravings, and tips for addressing them in a healthy way to break the sugar habit! The online Sugar Blues workshop is October 4, 2012 at 11:00 am CST. Register to reserve your spot at Sugar Blues Workshop HERE. Space is limited. Use the code FaithfulProv to waive the registration fee. Thanks, Calie!