Most of us don’t give our body much thought until something goes wrong and it causes us pain or discomfort.
But when you begin to tune in, you’ll find that your body actually has exquisite ways to communicate all sorts of important information with you. And one of the ways it does this is through cravings.
When our body begins to generate strong cravings for certain kinds of foods, we can be sure it is trying to communicate something to us.
At first it can feel confusing to figure out because sometimes our cravings often don’t make sense. I can remember a woman I was working with asking me, “I have such intense cravings for foods that I know aren’t good for me…it makes me wonder why I would want to trust my body at all?”
I can understand that perspective from the first glance. But when we look a little deeper and trust in the process, we can identify what is out of whack by using our cravings as signals.
Here are 8 potential causes of cravings. Let’s look at these as a starting point.
Dehydration can often be perceived as mild hunger. If you find that you are getting strange cravings of hunger when you have eaten recently, try drinking a large glass of water and waiting 10-15 minutes to see if the hunger signals stave off. Or try to stay ahead of the game and keep yourself hydrated through the day.
2. Lack of a Core Need
When we are not filled and satisfied in areas of our life that are more essential to our well being like joy, meaning, creativity, purpose, love, laughter, we can begin to substitute the food we eat for our lack in those areas. Being in a difficult or unloving relationship, being bored or unmotivated at our jobs, lack of exercise, being cooped up indoors for too long, or feeling stagnant in personal growth can all manifest as strong food cravings, particularly for sweet foods.
3. Ying/Yang Balance
Our bodies function under the need to maintain homeostatis or dynamic balance. When we are out of harmony, we often will experience a strong craving to counter the excess in our diets or lives. Foods and experiences have either yin qualities (expansive) or yang qualities (contractive). For example if we are craving sweet foods (high yin) we may need to examine if there is an excess of contractive elements or foods in our diet or life.
4. Comfort Seeking
Foods are used by many of us from a very young age to reward, calm, nurture and comfort us when we are feeling sad, lonely or needy. This emotional connection to food can become deeply seeded and will often continue to play out in our adult life without our even being aware of it. Sometimes the craving we is simply our conditioning to reach for certain foods that temporarily make us feel better or to numb us from uncomfortable feelings.
The foods that are naturally harvested in each season, also have qualities that balance the elements of that season. For example foods that are in abundance in the summer months, work to cool our bodies off in the heat of the season. In this way, our bodies have an intuitive sense of which foods will help balance what we are getting an excess of in each season. The longer we eat in season, the more we find these natural cravings surface.
6. Lack of Nutrients
In today’s modern world, we have available foods that are completely lacking of nutritional value– they have been so overly processed that they contain calories but little to no nutrients. This is never the case in nature. And so our bodies don’t count calories, but they seek the adequate amount of nutrients and will continue to exhibit hunger signals until they receive the nutrients needed to survive. I have seen many times a dramatic reduction of someone’s cravings when they switch from processed to real foods.
7. Sugar Addiction
Never before in human history have we consumed the amount of sugar that we do now. Our bodies are simply not designed to manage it and often times the impact it has on our body is more like a drug than a food. Sugar consumption can set up biochemical responses that will cause intense cravings for more and more sugar. Getting a handle on this one aspect of our diet makes a huge difference in our physical, mental and emotional health.
8. Glass Ceiling Syndrome
Have you ever noticed that when things are starting to go really well, you find yourself self-sabotaging? If we are feeling strong, energized and healthy, we can also find ourselves facing intense cravings toward foods that will depress our mood and success. If we give in, we can begin the intense craving cycles that keep us swinging between highs and lows in attempts to balance ourselves. But if we recognize this happening we can thwart the attack and keep on track.
Most of us don’t have much practice in trusting our body to give us the information we need to keep it healthy and vibrant, but once we begin to practice the art and science of becoming our own health expert, the language gets clearer and clearer.
What meaning have you discovered underneath your body’s signals? Have you experienced any of the above possible causes of cravings?