Remember last month where I said I’d do a Wellness Wednesday post the first Wednesday of each month? Well, we’re continuing with that theme, and this month I’m talking about CRAVINGS! I’m linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out loud!
In case you missed it:
We’ve all had those nights where all we can think about is pizza. Or fried chicken. Or chocolate chip cookie dough. Even, a hearty salad!
There’s nothing wrong with having these cravings or even acting on them.
I typically see a few reasons behind cravings, but there’s usually always a behind the scenes reason why.
We’re deficient in something
You may have heard this in relation to meat in that you may be low in iron or zinc. But, think about when you have low blood sugar or you’re cranky. Or you’ve gone too long without eating. You probably want a high carbohydrate/sugar food (ice cream, french fries, cheeseburger, milkshake, etc) to increase your blood sugar. Or, maybe you’re sick and you’re craving warm tea, full of antioxidants to help with immunity.
Or maybe you just crave more sugar or calories if you’re undereating in relation to your activity level. If you’re craving peanut butter at every meal, perhaps you need more fat in your diet. If you can’t think of life without cheese, maybe you need more calcium (and/or fat). Sometimes, there’s a reason to the madness. Sometimes you have to give your body a ltitle credit and realize it’s smart, and it needs to do it’s thing.
We’ve told ourselves we can’t have it
I’m fairly certain we’ve all been here. Whether you’ve struggled with disordered eating or not, I think we can all relate to putting some sort of restriction on ourselves, whether it’s a loose restriction or not.
I’m not eating ice cream tonight….I’ve had it 4 times this week
That pasta dish sounds good, but I think I’ll go with the salad
Should I really eat another tablespoon of peanut butter at this one sitting?
I’m thinking about chocolate again…but I ate it with breakfast – I should probably wait until dinner, or maybe wait until tomorrow
Often times, when we tell ourselves we can’t have something, we want it more. I think it’s important to consider why we’re placing this restriction in the first place. Are we trying to monitor and support self control? Will it help us lose weight? Do we eat too much of it? Do we feel bad after we eat it?
Each situation may lead to a different reason and outcome, but they all may require a slightly different approach.
We’re deflecting stress from something else
I think it’s impossible to completely dissociate from the term emotional eating, because to an extent, food is emotional.
Food is nostalgic, reminds us of memories, both good and bad. It brings us happiness when it tastes good, and sometimes frustration when it doesn’t. We’re excited to try new foods, or nervous or scared for cooking with others. It’s virtually impossible to completely dissociate any type of emotion with food, so I think we have to be careful when we label ourselves as “emotional eaters.” I have so many clients who use this term about themselves, and while part of me understands what he/she is trying to say, the other part of me is screaming, “yes we are all emotional eaters!”
What I think they mean is that they have other things on their mind when they’re eating, so they aren’t focused on the food going into their mouth. They aren’t appreciating the taste, the smell, the pleasantry of eating. They’re anxious about an upcoming test or meeting, stressed about work, worried about family. They may not be eating mindfully, because rather than focusing on the food in front of them, they’re distracted about something that may be bothering them. And because they’re distracted by these thoughts, they want something easy, often simple sugars or processed foods. Carbohydrates help boost serotonin, which brings calmness and a sense of “feel good” feelings.
But what if…a craving was just a craving. Just that. Nothing more, nothing less.
One of those things where you eat it and move on.
What I’m trying to portray is that acting on a craving isn’t always a bad thing. When we set this expectation that craving something is bad, we’re setting ourselves up to feel bad about ourselves if we act on that craving. RELAX! You deserve grace, and if you really want that food, eat it. And don’t feel bad about it. Move on. Would you make someone else feel bad about their choices?
How can you help the cravings?
Eat regularly and eat enough (See a dietitian if you don’t know what enough is for you and your lifestyle)
Get enough sleep and drink enough water
Show yourself some love and treat yourself
Get to the root of the problem (99% of the time, it’s not food) – How can you remove stressors from your life?
Exercise and produce those feel good chemicals!
Surround yourself with positive people and role models
Keep a cravings journal
And the obvious….give yourself what you’re craving!
If you are craving ice cream every night, maybe you need more calories, or maybe there’s another underlying problem that requires professional or medical assistance.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. And on a non food related note:
How do you motivate yourself, or pump yourself up, to accomplish something you didn’t think you could do?