Quick and Easy Tips for Navigating Food Cravings
Updated: Jan 26
There are many causes of cravings for foods or flavors that can make navigating them seem tricky. Cravings can feel overwhelming if you think about food all the time, or your cravings can feel out of control to the point where you overeat and feel sick. Cravings can be a good indication that you’re not getting the nourishment you’re seeking, which may not have anything to do with food. Gaining a deeper understanding of how cravings work allows you to respond to your cravings in a more mindful way.
First, let’s discuss some of the leading causes of cravings. What foods, deficits, or behaviors in your life could be underlying causes of your cravings? When you experience a craving, think through it. Ask yourself, what does my body want, and why?
Lack of primary foods. Primary foods truly feed your soul and are responsible for maintaining a well-balanced, healthy life. There are four pillars of primary foods and they include healthy relationships, a rewarding career, financial stability, physical fitness, and spirituality. Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an unmotivating exercise routine (or none), being bored, stressed, uninspired by your job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of primary food.
Dehydration. I’ve said this many times to clients, friends, and family – water is your friend and as with anything else you need to balance how much you drink. Lack of water can send the message that you’re thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is to drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well-balanced.
Change of seasons. Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens and citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods, and ice cream, and in the fall, people crave grounding foods like squash, onions, and nuts. During winter, 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, and sweets.
Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, you’ll have cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels may produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition may produce cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine or sugar.
Hormones. Ladies, have you often noticed that when you have PMS you also have food cravings? Yes, we are the lucky gender that experiences unique cravings when we menstruate, become pregnant, or go through menopause because of our fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels.
So how do we navigate these cravings? Mindfulness could be the key. Mindfulness is the ability to bring full attention and awareness to one’s experience, at the moment, without judgment. Mindful eating has also been shown to reduce emotional eating and help reduce cravings. Here a few suggestions on how you can use mindfulness when you feel those cravings coming on.
Acknowledge the cravings
Explore the origin with nonjudgmental curiosity
Proceed from a place of empowerment
Whether you choose to move forward with fulfilling a particular food craving or explore another option to nourish yourself, the point is to make educated, empowered decisions that work for you.
If you’re struggling with cravings or feel out of balance with your primary foods, it's time to reconnect with your body and live fully. With our Healthy Living Program, you will learn techniques to help manage your cravings and take a deeper dive into the primary foods in your life. We will address any imbalances and work together on a program that fits your goals and lifestyle so you can live a healthier, happier life.
Contact First Wave Wellness today for a complimentary consultation session to review your health history. We look forward to helping you with your health journey.
Resources: Institute for Integrative Nutrition