What food do you crave? When do you crave these foods? Are the cravings for something specific, e.g. chocolate, or a broad craving for something, e.g. sweet or salty? Most people experience food cravings at some point and there are reasons for the craving.
A food craving is something you want to eat or drink NOW. Like everything in Nutritional Therapy, we are individuals, so there is no simple answer as to why we crave the foods we do. However, there are reasons for cravings and often it is a combination of these reasons. Understanding why you are craving something can help us tackle the problem or trust your body’s innate intelligence.
Be assured that our bodies know what they need, but most of us are swayed by the marketing media and processed foods that muddle our body’s own messages.
See if you can identify with any of reasons for your food cravings:
Event triggers: We are creatures of habit and crave the familiar. Think of going to the movies. I used to crave salty popcorn – now it’s a glass of wine! Cravings for a certain food or drink might be evoked by celebrations, sporting events, a specific day of the week, and holidays like Christmas, birthdays or Easter. You might feel disappointed, or that something is missing, if that food was not available.
Your body needs more of a specific nutrient: Our bodies can know exactly what they want and crave foods for particular nutrient. Craving chocolate is often a sign that your body needs more magnesium, a mineral that we can be deficient in, particularly if we eat processed foods and/or sugar regularly. Craving salty foods may be our body’s way of communicating a lack of minerals. It is unlikely to be sodium alone, which is the most common ingredient in table salt, but rather other minerals that are found in sea or rock salt. This can be our body’s way of telling us that we need more of a specific nutrient.
We are sensitive to a specific food: This one sounds bizarre, but is true for some people! Your body will try to protect itself from a food to which you have an intolerance by producing antibodies, antihistamines, and/or endorphins to counteract the negative effect. It is this positive protective response that makes us feel good and want to eat keep eating the food. You may have a sensitivity to highly refined carbohydrates and sugar and just want to eat more and more of them, but never feel truly satisfied. Are there any foods you could not live without? These foods may well fit this category.
Our gut microbes: These ‘yeasties and beasties’ that live in our gut live in balance and harmony when we are good health. However, an imbalance can be created for a variety of reasons, like too many toxins, medications, sugar, stress, etc., and the ‘baddies’ can overgrow. Ideally, your immune system will restore the balance but sometimes it is too overwhelmed. Signs of a gut microbe imbalance often include inflammation, skin rashes, irritability and cravings. So be kind to yourself – if you crave things that you know are not good for your body (sugar is a big one), it’s important to realise that it is not because you have no willpower, but that those less-desirable microbes want to be fed! The ‘yeasties and beasties’ typically prefer sugar as their energy source. When you crave sugar, it may not be you, but these microbes in you that are demanding sweet stuff.
Something that is not food: Emotion(s) of stress, anger, tiredness, frustration, boredom, loneliness, sadness, a sense of achievement… These can be the trigger for us to reach for a certain food for comfort. A particular situation, stressor, or even time of day can lead us to cravings. If there is a busy week/day at work and I come home and crave a glass of wine, mmm, there’s a theme in my cravings!
If you would like to understand more about your food craving(s), or how to tackle the craving, please contact me to book a 20 minute free phone consultation. I’d love to help you by applying my nutritional wisdom, and the right mindset, to empower you to reach your health goals.
If you would like more specific advice relating to your individual cravings, please contact me to book a free 20-minute phone consultation.
I’d love to help you because I passionately care about applying nutritional wisdom, and the right mindset, to enable you to reach your health goals.
Source: Article adapted and inspired by:
RESTART program class notes