When it comes to weight loss, we often see cravings as the enemy. They creep up just as things are going well. One minute you’re proud of yourself for staying on track, and the next thing you know, you’ve attacked the bread basket, devoured an entire chocolate bar or pint of cookie dough ice cream.
The natural response is to get frustrated with yourself after you’ve given in to these powerful urges, but cravings aren’t necessarily a sign of weakness. They’re an important source of information about what our body needs, physically and emotionally.
Our body’s wisdom is much more intricate than simply a matter of willpower. It’s an incredibly miraculous system that’s able to self-regulate in spite of our hectic lifestyles, less than perfect diets, and constant stress. It maintains perfect balance in temperature and pH levels, repairs and regenerates cells, pumps blood and oxygen, and ensures that everything from growth to digestion functions perfectly, every minute of every day.
Our cravings are one of the ways our body lets us know something is out of balance. So the next time you’re craving sugar, bread or a glass of red wine, ask yourself what your body may be trying to tell you.
Here are 5 common messages our body often sends:
1. You need more water
This sounds too simple to be a solution to your cravings, but it may surprise you to know that when we’re thirsty, our body registers the feeling as hunger instead of thirst.
The next time you feel a craving coming on – especially those mid-afternoon sugar cravings where you feel you need a little energy boost – before you head to the coffee shop for coffee and a sugary treat, drink a full glass of water and see if your carving subsides.
2. You need more nutrients
Even though most of us think we like variety in our foods, statistics show we actually rotate approximately the same 5-7 foods all week long. We tend to eat the same foods more often then we realize, and as a result, our diet lacks variety and can lead to a deficiency in certain vitamins or minerals.
So instead assuming you have an unexplainable addition to chocolate or cheese, consider that your body might need more magnesium or calcium, and then find the healthiest source of those nutrients. For instance, to get more calcium you can increase your intake of dark leafy greens and almonds or almond butter; to get more magnesium you can eat more legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
3. You may be ignoring a primary food
Primary foods are those areas in our life that feed us on an emotional level, such as our relationships, career, physical activities, hobbies, and spiritual practice. When we’re experiencing boredom, stress or dissatisfaction in these areas, it can lead us to emotional eating as a way of avoiding our feelings. If you’re relying on comfort foods or wine to relax and boost your mood, you may want to look at your primary foods.
Confronting our emotions isn’t easy, but our cravings are the body’s wisdom telling us that it’s time to pay attention to these important areas.
4. You have a physical imbalance
Even though it may feel like it, cravings aren’t purely emotional or an uncontrollable need for wine and chocolate. Our body is a chemistry lab that is always seeking balance. If we have too much of one thing, it will automatically crave the opposite. It’s the concept of yin and yang – salty versus sweet, expansive versus contractive, stimulating versus calming.
For example, when you eat a lot of sugary foods it spikes your blood sugar spikes then eventually drops very low, that’s why you crave more sugar to bring it back up. You may also crave salty foods to balance the sweet. If you drink a lot of coffee to get yourself going in the mornings, you may find you crave alcohol in the evenings, to relax you, bringing down your cortisol levels.
5. You need a diet overhaul
The ironic part about cravings is that the more you eat of a certain food, the more you crave it. Eating salt, sugar and starches creates a vicious cycle.
If you find you’re always craving sugar, salt, bread, caffeine and wine, it may be a sign to clean up your diet. Start by eating more fruits and vegetables, and plant-based protein like nuts, seeds and legumes and healthy fats. An easy way to get the recommended 8-12 servings of fruits and vegetables each day is to add smoothies, vegetables juices, green powders and superfoods to your diet. Juices and smoothies are not only “cleanse foods” they are an incredibly easy and efficient way to boost your diet with mega nutrients.
You can jumpstart you’re eating habits with a cleanse, or a daily juice and smoothie from Beaming’s line of gourmet juices and smoothies, which are a delicious way to get all of your veggie servings and especially your daily dose of greens. Your cravings for the other foods will start to diminish because you are flooding your body with nutrients, balancing your blood sugar, and actually changing your taste buds.
Your body is always seeking balance. Once we realize that our body is sending us signs to nourish ourselves both physically and emotionally, we can see our cravings as important messages that are guiding us towards optimal health.
Victoria Bailey is a Certified Nutritionist, Wellness Coach and Weight Loss Expert, passionate about helping women and men transform their body, lifestyle and relationship with food through a holistic mind and body approach. Connect with Victoria on Facebook and her website www.victoriabaileywellness.com