Mary Kate Gowdy, AADP, CHHC, RMTP
Yes, we all get them from time to time. But, if we understand them … than we can start to conquer them! Cravings are our body’s way of speaking to us and they need to be listened to. There are 3 causes to cravings:
1~ Imbalance ~
There is an imbalance in what you are currently eating. You may not be getting enough high quality carbs, proteins, or fats. Or you’re not eating enough at all – you are just hungry! (not eating enough slows your metabolism and causes muscle breakdown as well as emotional imbalance. You can eat without gaining weight, I swear!) Not taking in these foods, will leave you yearning for more.
With Carbs, think anti-oxidants and darker colors. Get your fair share of Spinach, Kale, Romaine Lettuce, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Blueberries, Blackberries, and Strawberries. Try to stay away from Bagels, Pasta, Bread, and Rice … especially the highly processed white stuff. They have lost their nutrients and are empty foods.
With Proteins, think low fat. Eat more Haddock, Salmon, Cod, Turkey Breast, Tuna Steak, Lobster, Sea Bass, Quinoa, Tempeh, Almonds, Beans, and Chicken. Try to wean yourself off Sausage, Bacon, and Ground Beef. Also look for cage-free, free-range, organic and GMO free products to protect yourself from pesticides, hormones, and all that other nasty stuff that creates havoc in the body.
With Fats, think monounsaturated. Try Macadamia Nuts, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Olives, Avacado, Almonds, and Almond Butter. Lessen your intake of Lard, excessive amounts of Butter, and ALL Trans-Fats. Remember that Fat-Free and Low-Fat products do not mean healthier – if you check the labels, you will see they have replaced it with excessive amounts of Sugar or Salt.
2~ There is something emotional going on ~
If you lack here, you might overindulge there. It’s imperative to understand where this craving is coming from and tell yourself that overindulgence in another area of your life … including your food or sugar intake, is not the answer and will not solve the problem … but ultimately cause another.
Your memory has a play here too. You remember college food, your Easter basket, and McDonald’s after your childhood soccer games. They made you feel good before, so you go back to them now. But, in all honesty, if you don’t eat it … you won’t crave it. If you eat it, you will crave it … usually the same time the next day! Or at specific events when you had that type of food last. Once you start to switch your diet to real, healthier foods, your body learns how to have correct cravings. You will start to crave an avacado, spinach, or almonds instead of cake and cookies, because you have taught your body what foods it really needs.
After awhile, you may crave a double cheeseburger and fries, and you may give into it (never, absolutely never, feel guilty for slipping. We are human). But, does it taste the same as you remember? How does your body feel now? Your body has learned this is not real food.
3~ Allergies and Addiction ~
Food allergies can cause hormonal imbalances which may cause a deficiency in serotonin levels. This can trigger cravings for unhealthy foods or that exact food you are allergic to, to compensate for the deficiency. Again, understanding the craving can help you grow past it. Like an addiction, we are searching for something that will raise our serotonin levels and make us happy again. But, this type of chase will not heal the situation. If you slowly crowd out the unhealthy food choices and bring in the healthy ones, you will lessen the intensity and frequency of these cravings. You shouldn’t self-medicate with unhealthy food choices, but you can use food as your medicine. Seek a health coach or nutritionist who can help you with discovering the foods that are best for your unique bio-individuality.
**Always remember that when you feel hungry, you are really just thirsty. Take half your weight in ounces … that is the amount of water you should be drinking everyday.