Dang those Cravings: Why do you get them and how the heck do you curb them? 🍦🍰🍟
Before you reach for that bag of chips or pint of chunky monkey, ask your self: What am I doing? Why am I getting ready to destroy this helpless bag of food? There are a quite few reasons we experience cravings, and you are not alone here –all humans experience cravings! It is what we do about these cravings that sets us up for either great eating habits or “Dam, I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” rabbit hole. Don’t go down that rabbit hole. And if you are already knee deep in it, let’s get you out.
Let’s look at some reasons why we crave things in the first place. There are biological, hormonal, physiological, and plain ol’ life reasons for wanting to stick your face into a birthday cake.
First, food is addicting, literally. The food makers use additives and chemicals to make your food so darned tasty you need to have more. Have you ever been able to eat just one Dorito? No, it’s literally not possible. Additionally certain foods like sugar; cheese and highly processed carbs (think of those chips) actually can do two things in your body. They can increase production of the feel good hormone serotonin and they can release endorphins (the same chemicals released with cocaine and heroin). You feel so good after eating these foods that you have to have more to keep feeling good. Scary huh?
Ever heard of Leptin? It’s that pesky chemical in your brain that signals your body it’s full. Foods like sugar, highly processed foods and artificial sweeteners confuse this brain chemical so your brain and body don’t jive and you don’t get that signal that you are full. So you keep eating. Not cool if your hand is in a bag of barbeque chips.
Other hormones also cause cravings. You gorgeous ladies know what I am speaking of here. When that time of month approaches, bolt down the sweet and salty treats. Digression: did you know when you eat a lot of red meat you crave something sweet?
If you have low adrenal function- something you would need to get tested, or you are under a lot of stress, then you might start craving salty foods. Let’s talk about stress shall we? Ever experience it? Eating is a release from stress. Temporary release but a release none the less. This is because stress causes your flight or fight response to kick in, releasing cortisol. This release causes your energy stores to be depleted so you need food and now. Sugar is the quick fix for this. But we know what sugar does so it’s a viscous cycle. BREAK it now!
Closely related to stress eating is emotional eating. When we are depressed or upset we crave food to numb our feelings. And the cycle continues. Related to emotional eating is life factors/ When things in your life are not working out to your liking or are going against your vibe you feel out of tune so you turn to those foods that will comfort you. It could be a relationship that is not working for you anymore and you don’t feel like you can do anything about it. It could be a job you hate but feel you can’t quit. It could be feeling financial constraints you don’t feel you can turn around… Have you run for the ice cream yet?
Finally, your cravings could be as simple as lack of hydration. You are simply thirsty, not hungry at all.
PHEW, so you see, cravings are not really your fault at all. That’s the first step in conquering them. Recognizing them for what they are is a great start. Also recognize that birthday cake does happen and don’t beat yourself up over it, rather enjoy it, then get back on track.
Some tools for conquering your cravings are:
Hydrate! Sometimes it is a simple as grabbing a glass of water first. Drink as much water in a day as you can and you may just find those cravings creep back into the closet.
Avoid sugar and processed foods, keep your leptin in check. Keep your blood sugar balanced and your cravings won’t get the better of you. How do you do this? Keep a well-stocked kitchen with healthy foods and snacks at the ready. Nuts, seeds, fruit, hummus, veggies, homemade granola, yogurt (plain, whole milk) with berries, a cup of chamomile tea… The more good foods you eat, the less you will want the bad foods. It’s called crowding out.
Get moving! If you are exercising you are not eating. Exercising leaves you satiated, thirsty maybe, but not craving 7 layered nachos.
Get good sleep, take a nap. Practice some-self care, meditate, take a bath, read a book, cook a new dish, work in the garden…. Doing things that make you feel better mentally and physically, that de-stress you will kick those cravings to the curb.
BE A MINDFUL EATER! When you are heading down the rabbit hole with a bag of Fritos in you hand, ask yourself these questions: WHY am I eating this? How am I going to feel after I eat this? How am I eating this? Am I even tasting it or just shoving it in my mouth? We tend to not savor our food or even chew our food. Take your time when eating good foods (this does not include the Frito bag sorry). Savor the flavors in your mouth, chew your food, and enjoy it.
Finally, get help! Find those like-minded folks who will help you to cultivate good eating habits so you can fill in that rabbit hole once and for all. Find folks who you can relate to, talk to, cook with, do fun things with…And again, if that rabbit hole opens up for a moment and a birthday cake slips out and you happen to grab hold of it and you truly want it… eat it, enjoy it and move on, kicking dirt to fill the hole back in and move on. We are human after all. 👫
If you need help with your cravings, click here or on the health coach tab at the top!