What Cravings Teach Us
Ahhhh….You know what I am talking about here. That insatiable desire for something: food, carbs, salt, sugar, sex, love, or whatever. Its called a craving. And we all have them, but some of us are better at giving into them than others.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I craved meat and potatoes. WHAT? I rarely ate meat and potatoes were a treat. But I craved them. My physiology spoke to me through that hormonal change that said, “I want a great steak. And I want carbs!”. Huh? Let it be said, cravings are certainly NOT just a prego hormonal response…
So why exactly do we crave something? Why is it desirous? Is it biochemical? Is it emotional? Is it physiological? What the heck is happening when we feel that “I need this NOW!” Is it an addiction-response? Yes…and ….no.
Your biochemical body (hormones) signals you to tell you what we are missing. If you keep feeding your body sugar, your body begins to learn to want it–not being able to truly discern or regulate how much is actually “good” for you. It can become addicting.
But what if you are not getting enough of a certain (good) substance (ie. good fat, protein, vitamin or mineral)? What if you are not receiving the human touch, or affection? How does that deprivation affect your body?
So some cravings can be a signal to your body to tell you what you may be missing ie.. something your body really needs such as nourishing hormones/emotions/biochemicals which your body desires and needs. You may need to feed these cravings. Your body is calling you out on them. When you don’t give into these needs, your body seeks (unhealthy) substitutes or ways to fulfill the desires which are not always in our best interest (drugs, illicit sex, unhealthy eating and more)…
So how do you distinguish a real (healthy) craving from one which can cause havoc and unhealthy lifestyle practices?
I believe the first and most important step is to get your body into balance, into a state of equilibrium as much as possible.To do this may mean you need to rid yourself of (or at least minimize) everything artificial or that which your body truly does not need, such as sugars, processed foods, fried foods, salty foods, nicotine, alcohol, drugs and more..Strive to feel your optimal best–your healthiest.
Observe your body and how you feel for any signs of lack. What is your body (telling your mind) it’s missing (ie. craving) ? Pay attention.
This will be challenging. Your mind-body will cry out to you because there will be various forces that are at work in and around you. Emotional and physiological forces. These forces can be so compelling that they will steer you to make poor choices about food, sex, or other substances which really won’t nourish your body…in fact..it may simply destroy it. These drives for substances/emotions your mind FEELS you are missing may lead you astray. They are powerful. They are determined.
Remember, that “every emotion you FEEL will have a thought and physical sensation” as described by Dr. Deepak Chopra, in Perfect Digestion. The key is to realize that what you are actually feeling (the emotion) will coincidentally be producing a physical response. For example, if you are feeling very nervous, your stomach may begin to rumble or ache, your mouth may feel dry or you may feel jittery. With cravings, the desire for what we BELIEVE we are missing/wanting may show up as a very physical sensation (anxiousness, sweet tooth, strong hunger pangs).
Get to know your own body’s homeostasis . This is your body’s baseline..where it feels perfectly wonderful. (consistently good weight, healthy appetite, minimal aches/pains/inflammation, strong immunity). When you truly get tuned into your body, you will soon become your own savant about knowing which craving is healthy versus unfounded (misdirected).
Cravings come in all shapes, forms and sizes. They are super good at fooling you sometimes too. If you truly crave a particular substance (which you know isn’t good for you), ask yourself, “What do I really want? What am I really hungry for? ” Which taste (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, or astringent) am I missing from my diet currently? How am I feeling within? Secure? Loved? Valued? Purposeful? These questions will help you to identify the root of your craving.
And remember, when you minimize the “excess” of most anything, the craving for it will diminish and eventually disappear. But also know that some cravings act as warning signs signaling to you that you may not be getting enough of a needed substance or feeling (vitamin, mineral, taste, love, affection, validation). Be careful not to fill your need for love, affection or human touch with food. This will only create another unwanted (substitution) pattern and craving!
Cravings (for food/tastes) will come and go. Dont beat yourself up if you crater to them once in awhile. No one is perfect. We are not meant to be. Give yourself a pat on the back and a lot of love for learning more about your body, your desires and for working hard to make good, healthy choices.
Now excuse me please while I make some fresh popcorn. I’ve got a craving… 😉
Wishing you healthy cravings in all of their goodness! xoxoxxo