8 Causes of Cravings
Have you ever stopped to think what an amazing thing the human body is...
It knows when to go to sleep, when to wake up, holds a steady temperature, repairs itself when wounded and can break down food to form usable nutrients for energy.
So when we get a craving why is it the first thing we do is tell ourselves no you can’t have that and view it as a sign of weakness if we give in. Cravings can be our bodies way of signalling to us that something is out of balance and if you stop and think about the message your body is sending you, you may find there is an answer to your craving that doesn’t involve food at all.
Here are 8 causes of cravings for you to consider next time you are standing in front of the fridge like a bear about to go into hibernation;
1. Dehydration – Not only is staying hydrated a great way to reduce cravings it also helps to regulate how much food you eat to match your needs more closely. Your hydration status also affects your body’s electrolyte balance. When you sweat and lose water, you also lose electrolytes, like sodium and this may lead you to seek out sodium-rich foods like chips and crackers. When in doubt have a glass of water before you eat and then check in with what your body is really asking for.
2. Emotional Eating - Can you go from cupboard to fridge and back again all because your bored, or when faced with a stressful week do you turn to sugar. Well you’re not alone. Many people try to find balance in food when faced with uncomfortable situations and overeating is common when trying to fill a space in your life that you are not content with. Next time you feel the urge to down a block of chocolate or empty a tub of ice cream ask yourself is it a food hug your after or a real one.
3. Seasonal – The weather can play a big part in your cravings and you would have noticed that your eating habits change with the seasons. In winter we tend to want warming hearty meals like soups, stews, roast meats and in spring we gravitate towards lighter foods like salads and fruits. When summer rolls around people crave cooling foods like smoothies, cold meats and of course ice cream and in autumn we go full circle and come back to grounding foods like sweet potato, pumpkin and nuts.
4. Yin Yang Imbalance – all foods are considered to have either expansive qualities (yin) or contractive qualities (yang). Everything in life has a balance and our bodies are no different. Often, when we eat foods that are one extreme of yin (e.g. sweet food), we will crave foods at the other extreme of yang (salty food) to balance us out.
5. Lack of Nutrients – If the body is running low on nutrients it might produce odd cravings. An extreme example of this is a disorder called pica, which leads to extreme cravings of nonfood items, like clay, ice and chalk. This condition is most commonly seen in pregnant women, small children and those with developmental disorders.
6. Nostalgia – Sometimes it can be as simple as craving a food you have recently eaten or your favourite foods from your childhood. Foods that you have recently enjoyed will be fresh in your mind so you’re more likely to crave that food in an attempt to re-create a positive eating experience. Similarly, when you crave foods from your childhood, you may really be seeking the feeling of comfort and the emotions these foods may have provided when you were younger.
7. Hormonal – We all know about this one. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and oestrogen levels may cause unique cravings. Imbalance in neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA can also be big contributors.
8. Fad Diets – This can be a big one, you decide Monday is the day that you will start that diet, hit the gym and turn your life around. For a start any big change that you make, dietary or otherwise, isn’t going to happen overnight. Sometimes, you may revert to old habits because they are familiar or perhaps you were just unorganised, tired and it was just easier to reach for the take away. If this happens, remember to be patient with yourself, know that there is no quick fix to changing your lifestyle and that one unhealthy meal isn’t going to undo all the good food choices you have made. As the saying goes, when you skip a workout, eat bad foods or sleep in, it doesn’t make you a bad person it makes you human! Welcome to the club, there’s like seven billion of us.
So next time a craving hits sit down, have a glass of water and check in with yourself. Are you after a food hug or a real one.