Understanding Cravings

When we crave certain foods, there is usually an underlying reason.  Sometimes it is a nutrient deficiency.  In fact, overeating due to food cravings is most often a result of consuming too many low nutrient dense foods (fats, junk food, etc.).  When we eat foods that are low in nutrients, our bodies tell us to keep eating so we can get more nutrients – even if we’ve already consumed more calories than we need for the day.  I liked this article, which explores whether we are eating to live or living to eat.

Sometimes our food cravings are from lack of sleep, stress or other trigger.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to notice when I have a craving and then trying to pinpoint the cause behind it.  Today, for example, I have had a chocolate craving like you wouldn’t believe!  As I was struggling this afternoon with my cravings, I realized that it’s not really chocolate I want.  It is sleep that my body is craving.  But, because I was working, the next best thing was sugar and caffeine.

I find it really helpful to understand the cause of my cravings.  Sometimes, I’ll give in a little bit anyway.  But, today I was able to put off the cravings by reminding myself that what I really need is sleep.

If you haven’t already, practice paying attention to your cravings and how you feel when you experience them.  Are you truly hungry?  Or are you perhaps dehydrated instead (some experts have said that many people mistake thirst for hunger signals)?  Are you stressed, upset or angry and turning to food for comfort?  Or do you really need sleep instead of that ice cream cone or chocolate bar?  I find it really interesting to start to understand my body and what it is trying to tell me.  I feel more empowered and less a victim of my own cravings and desires; which, of course, translates to more baby steps forward on my journey to healthy living.

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