Food cravings can really throw you off track. That’s true whether you’re focused on weight loss, trying to maintain a healthy diet, or just trying to focus on the task at hand. Food cravings can come up when you least expect them, and they’re frustrating because they can be difficult to decode.
It’s important to recognize that cravings are part of the way our bodies communicate with us. Unfortunately, what our bodies want is not always clear.
Pay attention to your food cravings and compare how they feel in your body at the different times they come on. Cravings for different foods will feel differently in the body. Sugar cravings for example can be sudden and come on strongly, but they can also leave just as quickly if you’re able to hold off.
Use this list of common causes of cravings as a guide to help you determine where your craving is coming from.
Causes of Cravings
There’s plenty of reasons you might find yourself craving certain foods. Here are some common ones to check in with. When you recognize where your cravings come from, it’s easier to respond in a healthy way.
- Nutritional – craving a food because your body needs a nutrient it contains. For example, craving chocolate could be a sign of low magnesium, or craving salt could be a need for minerals.
- Emotional – craving stimulation, excitement, or connection in your life that’s being mistaken as a food craving. It can be difficult to tell the difference in the moment, but if you check in with your body and you’re not truly hungry, it’s likely your craving is emotionally driven.
- Bacterial – bacteria thrive on sugar. When you have an imbalance of good bacteria to yeast and harmful bacteria you can develop strong sugar cravings on behalf of the bacteria’s desire to be fed.
- Hormonal – the hormonal changes in our bodies can bring on cravings for sweets, carbohydrates, salt, chocolate and other foods. This can be due to low blood sugar, or because the body needs extra energy while things are fluctuating inside.
- Seasonal – anyone else break out all the pumpkin recipes in the fall? Sometimes we associate certain foods and flavours with a time of year and this brings on cravings. The craving can be more for the familiarity and nostalgia the food represents, than for the food itself.
- Rebelling – when things are going well in your life do you notice yourself “acting out” through craving treats in your diet? If you haven’t expanded your capacity to receive good into your life you might find yourself rebelling during times that are going well. An easy way to do this is to eat foods that don’t support your wellbeing or cause you to feel off, as a way to bring yourself down from your heightened state.
When you take the time to tune into your body – take a few deep breaths, slow down, and focus on how you’re feeling – it’s easier to hear what your body is trying to say. Sometimes cravings are about eating a certain food, but more often they’re a message about your emotions that’s being confused as a request for food.
At first when you tune into your body, it can feel like you’re a new mother who has to “guess” what her crying baby wants. But eventually your desires will become more clear. Use the above list as a guide and pay attention to any feelings that are coming up, especially if you’re going through a difficult or uncomfortable time emotionally.
Feeding your body instead of working through the difficult emotions can be a way of numbing yourself so you don’t have to feel your emotions. The more you consciously recognize what’s truly going on in your body, the more you’ll be able to respond appropriately to your needs.
When you recognize your craving is emotionally driven here are some things to try:
- Phone a friend and talk about how you’re feeling
- Journal your thoughts
- Talk it out with the person you’re feeling conflict with
- Meditate on the feeling and breathe through it
- Use EFT (tapping) to work through the emotion
- Mindful movement like yoga can help you move the emotional energy in your body
- Punch a pillow if anger or frustration is what’s coming up
Discerning your cravings can be difficult if you’re new to this work, but it’s worthwhile so you don’t let cravings run your life or ruin your health.
Are food cravings running the show in your life? The Eats & Asana coaching mentorship gives you the tools to connect with your body so you can understand it’s cues and respond in a loving way. These tools have helped many emotional eaters turn their cravings into wisdom that’s helped them improve their health, have more energy and feel great in their skin.
Book your Body Love Breakthrough Call to learn more about Eats & Asana and how it can help you create a healthier relationship with your body and food.