Food cravings are like the scary monster that hides in your closet. They’re hard to get a good look at because most of the time, you’re either resisting them or running like hell in the other direction. They also leave you with a sense of uneasiness because you’re never really sure when they will jump out and strike next. Food cravings can hijack your willpower, sabotage your judgment and interfere with your health goals, all in the blink of an eye.
They can even take over your rational brain and cause you to unintentionally lapse into mindless eating – sounds like the scary monster most of us fear the most! Being struck by food cravings can oftentimes feel overwhelming and can wreak havoc on daily living. But what you might not know is that this big bad scary monster is simply trying to talk to you. Facing your food cravings rather than avoiding them is a good place to start. If you’re willing to face your fears and listen to what they have to say, they may have the key to help you drop your struggle with food cravings for good.
7 Things Your Food Cravings are Trying to Tell You
1. It’s time to ditch the refined and packaged foods
When was the last time you had an intense craving for apples? How about bananas or figs? Most often, the foods we crave are processed junk foods that all tend to have one thing in common: they’re high in sugar, fat and salt. Not only are real foods not refined, but they’re also not naturally high in all three of these ingredients in the same bite. But food manufactures found out that they could combine refined sugar, fat and salt to find a perfect “bliss point” that literally rewires your brain to want and crave these fabricated foods – and prompt you to keep eating them despite being full. Getting unhooked from food cravings means returning to a whole foods lifestyle where real, fresh, organic foods predominate.
2. You’re Lacking Nutrients
Although it sounds counter-intuitive, it’s quite possible to be overweight or obese and nutrient deficient at the same time. The more you eat refined foods, full of empty calories, the more you’re body misses out on essential nutrients and continuously craves food to try to amp up your nutrient storage. How can you tell between a genuine craving for nutrients and a food-addiction induced craving? Ask yourself if it’s a real food or a man-made food you’re craving. If it’s a real, whole food, like the food we find in nature, you’re most likely craving nutrients. If it’s a refined processed food, it’s likely the big scary monster wanting to hijack your mind and take over your body to get its food craving fix.
3. You’re Dehydrated
It’s possible that what your craving isn’t actually a slice of pizza but a simple glass of water. Eating foods high in salt can cause dehydration but also create a cycle of craving more foods high in salt, resulting in further dehydration. Drinking natural spring water, fresh coconuts, herbal teas and eating water-rich foods like fruits and vegetables is a great way to stay hydrated. Avoid eating foods high in salt, especially if weight loss is a high priority for you. (Want to know more about how salt might be sabotaging your weight loss efforts? Get my free report on salt here.)
4. You Need to Catch Up on Your ZZZ’s
Lack of sleep is linked to overeating and can lend itself to chronic cravings. Lack of sleep causes you to crave glucose (aka sugar) because sleep deprivation impairs the way glucose works in the body. Lack of sleep also affects hormonal regulation, including the hormones that regulate your appetite. People who are sleep deprived tend to reach for food as a “pick-me up” and can easily eat an extra 500 calories a day – that’s an extra five pounds per month! The next time you’re feeling “low energy”, instead of reaching for that snack, take a 10 minute cat nap.
5. It’s Time to Stop Depriving Yourself
Deprivation doesn’t work, and in fact, it usually backfires, causing wild swings in eating behavior. Your food cravings might be trying to tell you that you’re not feeding yourself enough, or on a consistent, regular basis. When it comes to weight loss, slow and steady wins the race, and ultimately prevents uncontrollable food cravings. The more balanced and grounded you feel, the less likely you are to struggle with food cravings.
6. You Need a Better Plan for Stress Management
Think of stress as the fuel for your cravings. The more you experience stress, the more likely you are to crave sweets and refined foods high in sugar and fat. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes when it comes to stress and cravings. For one, chronic elevation of cortisol levels can lead to blood sugar imbalances. Combine that with the fact that stress leads to loss of self-control, and decreased motivation and willpower, you’re practically setting yourself up for a craving parade – followed by mass indulgence. De-stress by going outside and spending time in nature. Try going for a hike or walk, meditate for 5-10 minutes or soak in a warm, relaxing bath.
7. You’re not Having as Much Fun as You Really Want to
If you’re stuck in a rut, feeling down or depressed or are working a job you loath waking up to, you might be diverting your attention away from the issue and masking those uncomfortable feelings and diverting your attention with food cravings. If you’re struggling with chronic overeating or food cravings specifically, then it might be in your best interest to look at all aspects of your life and ask yourself what really makes you happy? It might seem unrelated, but people often struggle with food because of a larger underlying reason. We get hooked on food because we’re not “hooked on life”. What’s preventing you from living the life you really want to live? That might be the true scary monster lurking in your closet – a scary monster I happen to be quite familiar with. I know what it feels like to give up everything to follow a hunch in my heart. Read more about my story here and how I went from being overweight and depressed to living the life of my dreams. What do you do to manage food cravings? Aloha from the Big Island of Hawaii! Laura Dawn, author of Unhooked, A Holistic Approach to Ending Your Struggle with Food