Cravings! The top 5 reasons we have them and how to overcome them

Cravings- we all have them but what are we supposed to do with them. Do we eat the chocolate cake or say no? Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages from your stomach or heart to your brain. Cravings are not random. There are reasons we crave certain foods. When you have a craving, analyze it. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why? If the food is something your body truly needs, then eat it. If not, try to find a healthier alternative and figure out what “primary food” your body needs. Primary foods are the things that nourish you but are not found on your plate such as relationships, a rewarding career, a fulfilling spiritual life, movement, joy, and restfulness.

If you do decide to eat the chocolate cake, eat it and then move on. Don’t carry your cravings with you. Do not feel bad. Do not beat yourself up. We are all on a journey, a journey that begins with becoming more aware. More aware of what you crave and why. With more attuned awareness you may realize you’re craving the cake because you had a bad day at work and really just need to talk to a friend. Call a friend, vent, and see if your craving subsides. If you still feel like you must have the cake, have some, pay attention to how it makes you feel, catalog those insights, and move on. Here are five other reasons for cravings-

1. Water. Most Americans are chronically dehydrated. Lack of water sends a message to your brain that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water.

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2. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. If you do not have enough quality fats, proteins, and carbohydrates you can crave sugar. Inadequate minerals (from foods like dark leafy greens) can cause salt cravings. Try your best to eat fresh, colorful, whole foods, which will help to minimize these cravings and ensure you are not overfed but undernourished.

3. Childhood nostalgia. Often the foods we grew up enjoying we still enjoy today. Try to discover if is it truly the food you love or the feeling and memory it evokes. Have fun and experiment with more healthful versions that still contain all the same great flavors.

4. Like craves like. Often times, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten. The more you eat something the more you crave it. Funny thing is, you can cause yourself to crave chocolate or crave salads. Be careful with certain foods like cheese and sugar because they have addictive properties that cause biological responses in the body, which result in cravings (give it a try- eat some sugar, wait, and see that you crave it later that day or the next). Try to eat the not-so-healthful foods less and you will crave them less.

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5. Seasonal. Many people rave about the benefits of eating seasonally but believe it or not your body actually craves different foods at different times of the year. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens, berries, and citrus. During hot summer days people crave cooling foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, and ice cream. The fall brings cravings for grounding foods like squash, onions, nuts and sweets (thanks to Halloween and Thanksgiving). During winter, many crave warming foods like meat, roasted vegetables, soups, and warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Enjoy these cravings. Paying attention to the seasons is a great way to eat a variety of foods throughout the year.

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