Cravings Are Our Friends

Kara Bauer Health Guide
  • Most of us have trained ourselves to believe that cravings are bad. However, cravings are actually part of our body’s built-in system to let us know when it’s out of balance nutritionally or otherwise. Before drawing the conclusion that you are weak or without willpower, trust the messages you are receiving from your body and take a moment to look a bit deeper at the cause of your cravings. If cravings were to cease to exist, you might not be aware of what your body needs until your health or wellbeing is at risk.

    In my opinion, two of the main physical causes of cravings are dehydration and nutrient deficiency. Therefore, the first thing to do when you begin to get hungry between meals is to drink a glass of water. Although factors such as the type of climate you live in and the amount of exercise you get can impact how much water you need on a daily basis, a good rule of thumb is to take your weight and divide it by two to determine how many ounces of water you need per day. For example, someone who weighs 150 pounds would need about 75 ounces or 2.2 liters of water per day.

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    Another physical cause of cravings may occur when nutrients are lacking in your diet. Even though we might feel full after a big bowl of pasta or half of a pizza, it’s not uncommon to feel a craving for something more within an hour or so afterwards. If you’re frequently eating foods with minimal nutritional value or eat limited amounts of healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, your body may be in a constant state of dissatisfaction.  Additionally, with frequent blood sugar swings, you may find yourself craving sugar at odd moments throughout the day when your energy level sinks. Avoiding processed foods and caffeinated beverages can help curve these cravings.

    Although there are many other physical reasons for cravings such as hormonal imbalances, seasonal changes and certain health conditions; cravings can also be emotionally based.  One of the primary reasons we turn to food, especially food that isn’t good for us, is that we feel a lack of fulfillment in another area of our life and are looking for ways to fill that void. Sometimes this is caused by emotions such as boredom, stress, or lack of inspiration, sometimes its because we are dissatisfied or unhappy with an area of our life, or sometimes its not related to anything negative at all. If you have ever had the feeling that your life is just too good and consequently looked for ways to throw things off a bit, then this is just one example of how emotional needs, even positive ones, can impact our cravings.

    The layers of history, past experiences and emotional memories in relationship to food are deep and sometimes we are completely oblivious to what brings on our cravings. So what can you do when one of these cravings hits us? The best thing to do is to bring a bit of awareness to these moments and ask yourself what your body is asking for in order to determine the real source of the craving. If it is physical, this is a good time to reflect on your diet and the nutrients and amount o water you are consuming. If it’s emotional, you may find that something other than food would be more helpful in filling that empty space.  And when it seems food is the only answer to resolving your craving, there are always alternatives similar in texture and taste that can beneficially replace the foods you are craving.

  • Regardless of the source of your cravings, remember above all that they are your friends. Cravings are there to teach you about what your needs are, provide information and guide you to a place of balance. Welcome them with curiosity and you may be surprised and rewarded by what you discover.

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Published On: December 07, 2009