Underneath Cravings: What’s your body telling you?
It’s 3:45pm and I find myself standing at the fridge, door open, wondering what I can munch on. I’m craving something creamy and fatty. Cheese? Yogurt? Avocado? Butter? And then I notice my stomach still feels full from lunch. Why am I standing here about to eat more?
Cravings. The word alone elicits feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and uncontrolled urges that need to be mastered.
But what are cravings? Could our bodies actually be telling us something?
If you’ve read my book, you’ll know that I have a tortured (and no longer secret) love affair with a very un-naked food: boxed macaroni and cheese. Yes, the stuff with white pasta and fluorescent orange dye. Sometimes I don’t think about it at all. At other times, I can hardly stand it I crave it so badly. What’s up with that?
Our bodies are communicating with us all the time. Trouble is, most of the time we’re not listening. Or if we hear it, we ignore it or try to shut it up.
Cravings are our bodies speaking to us, loudly. Perhaps we’ve missed some subtler cues, so we get an uncontrollable urge. Uncontrollable gets our attention. Uncontrollable is hard to ignore.
When your body craves something, instead of trying to muscle through it or just giving in immediately, take a few moments to listen to the craving. What’s it telling you? What’s it asking for really?
Maybe your body’s asking for something that’s got nothing to do with food. Love, distraction, comfort, ritual, acceptance. These are all vitally important things, and if these needs aren’t being satisfied, food is one way to fill the void.
Maybe your body’s asking for a nutrient. Craving chocolate? Your body could be low in magnesium. Craving fat? This is a typical sign of essential fatty acid deficiency. Craving sugar? Maybe you need more protein or fat in your diet.
Maybe your body’s asking for a change of pace. If you’ve been too strict with yourself, maybe you need to chill out a little. If you’ve been excessively debaucherous, maybe it’s time to settle down and find your healthy groove again.
But here’s the thing: you’ll never know what your body’s asking for until you take the time to listen.
Here are some of my favorite tools for listening:
- Glass of water – if you find yourself craving something, instead of just automatically indulging, stop and have a glass of water first. Take the time of drinking the water to check in with yourself. At the very least you’ll have snuck in an extra glass of water, and often we mistake thirst for hunger.
- Journaling – If you have the time, take out your journal and write “What are you really wanting?” at the top. Take a few deep breaths, don’t overthink, and just write what comes to you. This is a great tool for allowing your body’s inner wisdom to come through.
- Compassion – Most of all, you want to be compassionate with yourself. Judgment clouds our listening and confuses the message. Be easy with it. Remember, this isn’t about willpower. This is about listening and learning.
Next time you crave something, take a moment to look underneath it. What’s your body really asking for?
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