Food Cravings 101
When you have a food craving…is it really the food itself that you want? The chewiness, smoothness, sweetness, saltiness or whatever physical properties the food has?
Or are you eating to try and change the way you feel? Maybe you are trying to change your physical state – eg. to rev yourself up or calm yourself down. Or maybe you are trying to change your emotional state – like trying to make yourself feel happy or stop yourself from being lonely or bored.
It is so important to ask yourself these questions, because what triggers each of these cravings will be slightly different (and the solutions for managing these cravings will also be different).
The reality is that cravings are uncomfortable and everyone hates being uncomfortable. But in our hasty efforts to stop the discomfort as quickly as possible, we completely miss the critical information that the craving is giving us.
What if you considered cravings to be similar to an engine warning light on your car? A warning that something is not quite right and needs attention? But just like a car, you need to pay attention to exactly WHICH engine warning light is on, otherwise you are going to have no clue how to fix the problem. For example, is the warning light telling you that you are low on windshield washer fluid, in which case you can likely ignore it for a brief period of time (unless it is really muddy out!). Or is it an urgent warning (eg. Like being out of oil), in which case you had better stop whatever you are doing and deal with the problem immediately?
Here is how to interpret some of the more common “warning lights” when it comes to food cravings:
Craving the physical properties of a food (eg. sweetness, saltiness or a particular texture) is usually triggered by:
– Not paying attention to your food while eating it;
– Being bored senseless with what you are eating;
– Food lacking in flavour or texture;
– Genuine physically hunger; or
– A diet high in refined carbohydrate which is causing swings in blood sugar levels.
Craving a change to your physical state (eg. To rev yourself up or calm yourself down) are generally due:
– Not getting enough sleep (which is why you are so tired);
– Low blood sugar levels or rapid swings in blood sugar levels;
– Not eating enough or not eating regularly enough;
– Unmanaged levels of stress or anxiety.
Craving a change in your emotional state (eg. To relieve an uncomfortable emotion) is often due to:
– Being bored;
– Being lonely;
– Being unhappy or unfulfilled with your work life, your home life or just in general;
– Lack of work-life balance;
– Negative self talk (eg. Being self-critical, perfectionistic and/or judgmental);
– Not doing anything for yourself; or
– Needing a break/rest (and often eating is the only time we let ourselves sit down!)
Often people will label themselves as an “emotional eater” which makes it sound like there is a fundamental flaw in their character. Thinking this way just stops them from taking action because if you believe there is something fundamentally wrong with you, then that implies that nothing you do is going to make one iota of difference so you might as well not even bother trying. None of this is true.
Cravings CAN be overcome but all of the answers are inside of you. 101 “hacks” on fast ways to overcome food cravings are just not going to cut it. You need to stop “reacting” to the situation long enough to gain the information your body and mind are giving you.
For assistance and support on how to do this, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org