Here are two reasons why you may have cravings:
- A lack of nutrients in your diet
- A lack of balance in your lifestyle
I believe a lot of the time our cravings are from a lack of balance in our lifestyle. Given how busy everyone is these days, trying to fit everything in, we often lose sight of the important things and plough into mundane, energy draining tasks, and forget about our relationships, our health (exercise), our careers (staying in a job we dread going to every day) and no connection to our spirituality. When we have an imbalance in any of these areas, and for some, it’s all of them, this can cause us to crave foods to fulfill us in another way.
So, how do you know what is causing your craving?
First thing is awareness. Being aware at the time of the craving gives you the opportunity to stop and ask “what am I feeling in this moment? Why am I craving this packet of chips? Am I hungry, thirsty, bored, lonely, tired, anxious, stressed?” Often, we think we’re hungry when we are dehydrated. So that’s step number one, drink some water.
Then. Check in, what’s really going on? Often these emotions cause us to reach for food to ignore and suppress what’s coming up. If you give yourself the opportunity to stop, without judgment, and connect with your emotions in the moment, this can help you to identify the underlying reason for the craving.
Identifying what’s causing your emotion and what you can do about it.
- Boredom – finding something that brings more variety, fun, joy into your day, i.e. walk, swim, movie, taking a course, learning something new, new job, new hobby….
- Lonely /Sad – seek company from a friend, partner, family, animal. Watch a light hearted, feel good movie.
- Tired – sleep, nap, rest, light physical activity. Address your sleeping patterns and workload. Are you getting enough sleep? Put your computer and phone away one hour before bed.
- Anxious/Stressed – breath connection, stop and breathe – join a regular meditation or yoga class, exercise regularly, doing something you enjoy. Connect with supportive people.
These tips are great to help at the time of the craving, but to ensure the cravings do not keep recurring, it’s important to dig a little deeper and see where the emotions for e.g.; boredom, is coming from. Is it time for a new job, new skills, do you need more like-minded friends to exercise with, play tennis, run, go hiking? Would you like to learn to cook so you can cook for friends and create a better social life? These emotions are coming from somewhere, if you keep ignoring them with giving in to your cravings, they will keep showing up and the cycle continues!
Keeping a journal can be helpful to write how you are feeling and can often release emotions and bring clarity.
If emotions are not the problem, then perhaps you are lacking in certain nutrients.
Here are some signs that you may need more nutrients, vitamins and minerals in your diet:
- Not enough good fats – you may suffer from: constant fatigue, inability to feel full/hungry all the time, hormonal problems, issues concentrating and/or mental fatigue, dry eyes, constantly feeling cold, dry hair and/or hair loss.
Eat more: olive oil, coconut oil, ghee, butter, avocado, fish, nuts, seeds, eggs, grass-fed organic beef, MCT oil, full-fat dairy, all for your good fats.
- Not enough protein – you may have trouble losing weight, have low energy levels and fatigue, a sluggish metabolism, trouble building muscle, poor concentration and trouble learning, moodiness and mood swings. Muscle, bone and joint pain, blood sugar changes that can lead to diabetes, slow wound healing and low immunity.
Eat more: organic animal protein (if that’s in your diet), such as grass-fed beef, organic chicken, bone broth, wild caught salmon, eggs or goat cheese or (if vegan) lentils, black beans, natto, almonds or spirulina.
- Not enough magnesium, calcium and potassium – these are common minerals that many are deficient in. Suffering from muscle cramps may be a sign that you are.
Eat more: dark leafy greens (kale, spinach, and dandelion), broccoli, squash, almonds, hazelnuts, bok choy, and apples. An Epsom salt bath can also help, by absorbing the magnesium from the salts.
The key is always to have a balanced diet full of a variety of fresh, wholesome, organic where possible, whole foods. Foods that come from the earth and not a factory.
Keeping a food journal can be helpful to see what serves YOUR body best.
So, next time you go reaching for the packet of chips. Pause, check in…..