Most of us don’t give our body much thought until something goes wrong and it causes pain or discomfort.
But once you tune in, you’ll find that your body actually has exquisite ways to communicate all sorts of important information with you. Cravings is one way it does this.
When our body begins to crave certain foods, it’s trying to communicate with us.
At first it’s confusing because sometimes our cravings often don’t make sense. I remember a woman telling me, “I have such intense cravings for foods that I know aren’t good for me…it makes me wonder why I’d want to trust my body at all.”
I understand her perspective—but when we look and trust our body’s natural process, we can identify what’s out of whack when we identify our cravings as signals.
Here are 8 potential causes of our cravings.
Dehydration often feels like mild hunger. If you’re getting strange cravings of hunger when you’ve recently eaten, drink a large glass of water and wait 10 to 15 minutes to see if the hunger signals leave.
And, stay ahead of the game and keep yourself hydrated throughout the day.
2. Core needs
When our essential wellbeing feels depleted—we crave joy, meaning, creativity, purpose, love, laughter—we can accidentally substitute them with food. When we’re in a difficult or unloving relationship, when we’re bored or unmotivated in our work, when we’re not exercising, when we’re cooped-up indoors for too long…
…These can all manifest as intense food cravings, especially for sweets.
3. Ying/yang balance
Our bodies want to maintain homeostatis, or dynamic balance. When w’re out of harmony, we’ll often have strong cravings to counter the excess in our diets or lives.
Foods and experiences have either yin qualities (expansive) or yang qualities (contractive). So, if we’re craving sweet foods (high yin) we may need to see if there’s an excess of contractive elements in our life.
Many of us have used food from a young age to reward, calm, nurture, and comfort us when w’re 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 notice.
Sometimes our cravings are conditioned—we reach for certain foods that temporarily make us feel better when we want to numb uncomfortable feelings.
5. Seasonal needs
Foods that are naturally harvested in each season also have qualities that balance the season’s elements. For example, abundant summer foods work to cool our bodies off in high heat. Our bodies can intuitively sense which foods will help balance what we’re getting in excess. The longer we eat in-season, the more these natural cravings surface.
6. Lack of nutrients
In today’s modern world, we have available foods that are completely lacking nutritional value—they’ve been so processed that they have calories but no nutrients. This is never the case in nature.
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’ve 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 the impact it often has on our body is more like a drug than a food.
Sugar consumption sets 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 start to go well, you find yourself self-sabotaging? If you’re feeling strong, energized, and healthy, you can also face some intense food cravings that’ll depress our mood and success.
If you give in, you’ll begin the craving cycles that keep you swinging between highs and lows. But if you recognize when it happens, you can thwart the attack and stay 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, but once we practice the art and science of letting our bodies be our own health expert, it gets easier.