Cravings, What's the Culprit?
Updated: Dec 10, 2019
LET’S START AT THE BEGINNING, WHAT IS A CRAVING?
A craving is a stimulation that may manifest itself as “I need chocolate STAT” or “I could kill for something fried”. What drives those feelings of desire? Is it a nutritional deficiency, metabolic imbalance, hormone dysregulation, or a combination of several factors? Before we delve into the specifics of the cravings listed let’s discuss overarching reasons for cravings which are:
Blood glucose imbalance
Crave what you consistently eat (Love salty or sweet foods? Your body begins to rely on it and begins to get desensitize, further driving your need for more and more. Practice re-sensitization)
Poor sleep (drives cortisol imbalance)
Hormone influx (menstruation, prostaglandins)
What are non-physiological hunger cues? Stress eating or eating out of habit or boredom are great examples. Stress is your body in sympathetic activation (read: fight or flight). Our society has chronic stimulation driving hormonal imbalances like elevated cortisol and insulin. When your body has chronically high cortisol it cannot balance blood sugar properly leading to a litany of side effects like carbohydrates, salt, and other “comfort food” cravings. Listening to your body’s cues is a part of intuitive eating philosophy that helps to pinpoint the origin of a craving when it sets in. Is it hunger? Dig in! Are you reaching for more chips while watching TV and hardly tasting or enjoying your food? Habitual eating lacks satisfaction further driving craving cues.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN YOU CRAVE…
While no craving can be as simply linked to “I am craving X so I must be low in Y,” here are some common cravings and ways to satisfy that in a healthier manner.
WHAT YOU’RE CRAVING: A BIG FAT JUICY BURGER...FROM BURGER KING
What it may mean: Even your cravings can be trying to overcompensate. Processed food are full with loads of hidden salts and sugars (plenty of sugar in a burger, the sauces and processed buns). Your body becomes desensitized to them the more you consume these types of food. Contrary to popular belief, salty and sweet cravings often come from overstimulation, opposite of the traditional belief of craving what you lack.
What you should opt for instead: a homemade lean meat patty (like bison, lamb or grilled chicken) on a fresh sourdough bun (it has fermented benefits, no additives and low sugar) with all the fixings and a nice leafy green salad as a side.
WHAT YOU’RE CRAVING: SUSHI
What it may mean: Protein cravings can be very common from a new increase in muscle mass to higher detoxification needs. Often rolls can be covered in mayonnaise or other heavy sauces that take away the goodness that sushi can offer your body - all while causing troublesome blood sugar spikes that will trigger more cravings. (are you seeing the pattern here?)
What you should opt for instead: Go the purest route. Sashimi may provide plenty of healthy protein and fats to satiate you but without any fiber you won’t be hormonally or biologically satisfied (read: remain in storage mode!) Try a brown rice or seaweed hand-roll with your favorite portion to provide a balance.
WHAT YOU’RE CRAVING: A GALLON OF ICE CREAM OR OREO COOKIES
What it may mean: Mood food baby! High mental demands like pulling all- nighters in college cramming for exams elevates our desires for sugar. Glucose is after all, the brain's largest fuel source. Fatigue, dehydration, gut flora imbalance are other factors that may contribute to sugar cravings.
What you should opt for instead: Try this delicious Match Mint Ice Cream recipe (one of our favorite superfoods that is full of antioxidant properties, not to mention the metabolism boosting and PH balancing effects) from Sweet Laurel Bakery. These chocolate truffles I love to make (I’ll add pistachios, salt, and made sure to use full fat coconut milk) or homemade Oreos from The Minimalist Baker will do the trick too.
Contact me for more information! Understanding your personal cues to cravings and how to manage them is an excellent strategy for weight loss or creating a healthy relationship with food.
More on tuning in to your body, how to listen to your wants vs needs, and what else your cravings (read: hormones) may be telling you!