Befriend Your Cravings

Your body is simply amazing. She is an amazing source of intelligence, always there for you, pumping blood, never skipping a heartbeat, breathing in and out without thought, digesting whatever food you put in her and maintaining balance as best as she can.

But why then, you may ask, do you crave certain things? Are cravings due to your lack of will-power or discipline? Is this reliable, beautiful, intelligent bio-computer making a mistake by craving ice cream or a hamburger or cupcakes?

No actually she isn’t and I’d like to suggest that cravings are not a problem. They are instead key pieces of information that tell you what your body needs in any given moment.

We have all been there, our minds whispering, and then pushing and finally shouting for that thing, perhaps something sweet or salty and usually not terribly healthy. The dictionary defines a craving as an intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing. I agree that it can be intense and feel urgent but isn’t abnormal. It is natural, it is normal and it doesn’t mean anything is “wrong” with you because you have a craving.

The important thing is to understand why you crave what you crave.

Perhaps your diet is too restrictive or devoid of essential nutrients. Perhaps you are living a lifestyle that is too boring or stressful.

Your body tries to correct the imbalance by sending you a message in the form of a craving. It’s your her way of getting your attention.

For example, a craving for something sweet could mean you need more protein, or more exercise, or more water or more “sweetness” in the form of love in your life. Craving sugar is as natural as our desire for air. Long before the readily available processed forms of sweets, our bodies had been programmed, though evolution, to long for sweet-tasting food. Back then the only source of sweet tastes came from plant foods like fruit, squash, root vegetables and grains and it was no coincidence because these foods are great sources of nutrients, energy and fiber, the things that your body needs.

The key to stopping the sugar craving, or any craving, is to take the time to be curious about it and then give your body what she really needs.

There are tons of books and theories that can tell you what to eat but none can give you the awareness of your body and her needs. Of all the relationships in your life, the one with your body is the most essential. It takes patience, communication, love and time to cultivate and build that relationship with your body. As you learn to decipher and respond to your body’s cravings, you will create a deeper and lasting level of health, balance and well being.

So, the next time you have a craving, treat it as a loving message from your body instead of as a weakness. Before you reach for what you think she wants, try one of these first:

  • Ask yourself, what is out of balance in your life? Is there something you need to express, or is something being repressed? What happened in your life just before you had this craving?
  • Have a glass of water and wait 10 minutes.
  • Eat a healthier version of what you crave. For example, if you crave sweets, try eating more fruit and sweet or root vegetables.
  • If you find that you still want that thing that you want, when you eat the food you are craving, slow down and enjoy it, taste it, savor it; notice its effect on your body and on your mood. With this slowing down you will become more aware and free to decide if you really want it next time.