What kinds of foods do you crave?
Most of us associate cravings with unhealthy food choices.
We have good intentions to eat healthier then cravings happen. They take over and we feel powerless to resist. But are cravings really out of our control? What can we do to take charge and make decisions that are based on our intention to live a healthy and vibrant life?
The answer is: there is actually a lot we can do.
Here are 10 tips that will help you turn the tables, curb cravings, and put yourself and your life back in the driver’s seat:
Understand your Cravings.
Cravings have important messages and often tell us that there is something out of balance, it’s your body’s way of communicating with you. So instead of fighting them, friend them, start a conversation with them and start asking “what are you trying to tell me?” What you will often hear is that there is a neglected need for those cravings. Maybe you’re not getting enough rest, maybe you’re feeling lonely and isolated, maybe there’s not enough fun and creativity in your life. Understanding what’s behind your cravings will start loosening their grip on you.
Address your Needs
Once you have an idea of what your neglected needs are, start addressing them. You don’t have to resolve them completely. Just taking a small step at a time to nurture yourself can shift your cravings.
Harmony with the Seasons
Cravings can happen when you don’t live and eat in harmony with the seasons. If you’re eating a lot of cooling foods in the winter, your body will crave warmth and you can have unhealthy cravings for high-fat foods. If you’re eating heavy foods during the warmer seasons, your body will crave lightness which can show up as unhealthy cravings for sugar. Eating seasonal foods, using season appropriate cooking and food prep and nurturing yourself with seasonal practices will help those cravings diminish.
When your meals are not balanced, cravings will come a-knocking. People who go on diets where a whole food group is eliminated, fat-free, no carbs, too much protein, can experience cravings so intense that it can feel like an alien force has taken over their body. Create meals that include all foods: nutritious whole grains, good quality fats, and adequate protein.
Today’s food stores are filled with over processed and nutritionally deficient foods that lead to, you guessed it, cravings! It also leads to poor health and poor quality of living. When your body doesn\’t get enough micro-nutrients like important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it will feel like it’s starving, even though you\’re eating enough in quantity. Go for whole and unprocessed ingredients like fresh produce, whole intact grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and if you choose to, high-quality animal proteins.
The Five Flavors
Most of our modern food is high in two tastes, sweet and salty. According to Chinese medicine, including all five tastes in every meal is important for a sense of balance, satisfaction, and health. When there’s a taste missing, your body will respond with cravings. Include the following with every meal: salty (good quality salt or soy sauce), sweet (grains or natural sweeteners), sour (lemon juice or vinegar), bitter (nuts, seeds, bitter greens) and pungent (onions, garlic, and ginger) and you can kiss those cravings goodbye.
Eat the Rainbow
Another wonderful way to make sure your meals have a variety of nutrients is to include produce from every color. The more nutrient dense your food is, the fewer cravings you will have. So create colorful plates with reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and purples by making salads, steamed veggies, roasted veggies, and soups.
Avoid Addictive Foods
Some foods create cravings because of their addictive nature, they wreak havoc on our blood sugar levels and send us on a physical, emotional and mental roller coaster ride. The two biggest offenders are white sugar and white flour. Removing them will help you create a more balanced life and reduce your cravings significantly. Replace sugar with healthier sweeteners like raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, or xylitol. Replace white flour with whole grain flour, nut meals, and coconut flour.
When cravings hit, they might feel intense but they usually don’t last long. The best way to shake them is to shake, walk, dance, breathe, do some yoga poses, get physical in any way you can. Being active can lift you out of your cravings danger-zone.
Go to Nature
Being in nature fulfills a very deep and primal need. We need to be surrounded by greenery, sit by the ocean, walk by the lake, see the sky, the clouds, and the stars. Being in an indoor environment for too long will make us feel ‘off’ and we will crave unhealthy foods in order to cover up those feelings. Give yourself the gift of being with nature daily.
Most of all, remember that cravings are an inner-compass that help us learn about ourselves and our needs. They are a wonderful opportunity to shower ourselves with nurturing and self-love.
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Rachel Kieffer is an author and an Integrative Nutrition health coach. She guides women to radiant lives, a healthy relationship with food and a loving relationship with their bodies through private consultations, online programs, and women health circles.