How to overcome cravings?
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
The darker season is here and I thought to share something several of my clients have had struggles with- the cravings- whether it’s for sugary foods, salty foods, specific foods, specific liquids. So what can we do about our cravings?
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Deconstruct your cravings
Cravings indicate imbalance in the body or mind. They can be incredibly helpful in guiding you to better health if you choose to try and understand why you crave what you crave, what does the body need.
Be curious about your cravings
Rather than diving in and eating that box of chocolates, a bag of chips, half a loaf of bread- try and understand what’s the emotional feeling behind it and what could be the trigger for the craving? Is there a feeling you are trying to fill and fix with food and could you approach it another way- like talking to someone about your feelings and concerns, going for a walk and getting some fresh air, making yourself a cup of calming tea, going and doing some physical exercise. Rather than seeing cravings as something you need to conquer, suppress- see them as important messages from your body to try and get you back to balance.
Sugar craving is your body asking for energy
When you get that afternoon slump and feel you need to have the extra energy to get through the rest of the day- and you reach for that bowl of candies at the office, or that chocolate bar, know that you have a choice. You either reach for simple carbohydrates that give you the sugar rush or you reach for complex carbohydrates that are wrapped in fibre and result in not so steep blood sugar rise. Cravings for sugary foods can be caused by any of the below deficiencies as well. You can learn more about the sugar and what are the healthier alternatives to satisfy your sweet cravings from one of my past blog posts.
You might be lacking enough protein in your diet
Protein helps to balance blood sugar, which really helps to reduce cravings. Make sure you include adequate amounts of following proteins in your meals: fish (wild salmon, mackerel, sardines, tuna), grass-fed beef, lamb, organic chicken, free-range eggs, lentils, beans, kefir, yoghurt, cottage cheese, natto, good quality protein powder.
You might be lacking enough healthy fats in your diet
Your body burns either sugar or fat for energy. If you increase the consumption of good quality fats in your meals and don’t fear it, you naturally have less cravings. Good fats include extra virgin olive oil, MCT oil, ghee, avocado, raw nuts and seeds, coconut oil, camelina oil, linseed oil. Several protein rich foods also contain good fats.
Consume more fibre in your meals
Fibre helps you to feel fuller longer as well as supports detoxification in the body. Make sure you consume an adequate amount of high-fibre foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, psyllium husks.
Consume more sour foods and probiotic rich foods
Probiotic foods like fermented vegetables, apple cider vinegar, kefir, yoghurt help to curb cravings as well as drinking water with a little bit of lemon juice throughout the day.
Make sure you stay hydrated
We often confuse hunger with thirst and sometimes all that’s needed is to drink a glass of water and the craving goes away. It's also important that we get enough electrolytes as electrolyte imbalance can also cause cravings.
Lower your stress levels
Our thoughts and emotions affect our health. When we are chronically stressed we weaken our body’s ability to function optimally. When we are stressed we tend to gravitate towards foods or drinks that don’t necessarily serve us. We also tend to reward ourselves with food or drinks, when we had a stressful day.
Focus on getting quality sleep
If we are sleep deprived, or we have had a night where we didn't get enough sleep, we gravitate towards higher carbohydrate foods the next stay. Learn more here how can you improve the quality of your sleep and why sleep is so crucial for your overall wellness.
Cravings could be linked to specific nutrient deficiencies
Sometimes we also misunderstand what our cravings actually mean, where our body could be lacking important minerals, vitamins or fatty acids. Your body is smart- it will tell you if you are not feeding it properly, by consuming too much sugar, processed foods, processed oils. Below are some common cravings and what deficiency could be behind it:
Chocolate- body lacks magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies. Other good sources for magnesium are leafy greens, avocado, wild-caught fish, pumpkin seeds, raw dairy products, and sprouts.
Salty snacks- body could be suffering from adrenal fatigue and possibly lack trace minerals (iron, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, cobalt, zinc). Good sources for trace minerals are bone broth, meat stock, pink salt, sea vegetables
Sweet snacks- body’s blood sugar is out of balance often because of consuming high glycemic carbs and simple sugars, which are addictive. But craving sweet foods could also be linked to chromium deficiency, which regulates metabolism. Make sure you consume foods like broccoli, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, green beans, Romaine lettuce, cinnamon, beef, apples.
Red meat- body lacks iron and/or B12 vitamin. Women who are pregnant or who are menstruating often need more nutrients like iron, zinc, vitamin B12. Besides grass-fed beef you can also get these nutrients from lamb, wild-caught fish, organ meats like liver, but also from spinach, Swiss chard and blue-green algae.
Dairy and cheese- craving for these foods could be a sign that body lacks essential fatty acids like EPA, DHA, ALA, GLA, which are important for nervous system and brain development. Consume foods like wild-caught fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, grass-fed beef, lamb, pasture raised eggs.
You can find a comprehensive list of vitamins and minerals and how to get them from which foods from my recent blog post.
How to get to the source of your cravings?
An exercise you could do is keep a journal of the foods and liquids you crave, also to notice if there is a specific day or time you crave a certain food and do it for a week. Write down your thoughts and feelings around that craving, what triggered it and what you think you actually needed.
Other things to try to reduce or eliminate cravings
In order to reduce cravings, it's important to eat right for your blood sugar balance. I have covered the topic of blood sugar in one of my blog articles, it's effect on overall wellness as well as how to eat to avoid blood sugar spikes as this is another factor that influences cravings.
It’s important to consume a balanced diet as well as be curious about the different areas in your life that influence health, like sleep, physical activity, career, relationships, social life, spirituality and see which of these areas are out of balance and how you can bring more balance into them.
If we acknowledge and accept our cravings, they will guide us towards the foods and lifestyle changes we really need. Working to understand your cravings is the best place to start to build a loving relationship with your body.
Do you want support from someone who can help to deconstruct your cravings and guide you to more balanced health and life, don't hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.