Today, we’re going to take a look at the Top 5 Causes of Cravings. This month, I’ll be sharing a 3-part series all about curbing your cravings—call it The Plante Life’s Cravings Control 101!
So, we’re two weeks into the new year, time for a little check-in. Raise your hand if you followed my post-holiday advice from a few weeks ago and trashed those unhealthy leftovers before January 1st?
No? Well, it’s time to get on it!
Even when those rich, sweet treats are out of sight, sometimes they aren’t entirely out of mind. After 4-6 weeks of indulging at holiday parties and family functions, it’s normal for your body to still be jonesin’ for the high-fat content of savory fried foods or that quick sugar spike from the dessert tray.
Don’t let the Ghost of Christmas Cookies Past derail your healthy eating goals for the New Year! With a little nutritional information, a better understanding of your body’s cues, and some strategic planning, you can steer those cravings in a healthier direction.
Cravings Cause #1: It’s My Party, And I’ll Cry If I Want To!
We all have emotional triggers. It’s totally normal, and it doesn’t mean you’re not a badass in-control-got-it-handled babe! The real key is understanding the root of your surge of emotion and then learning to react differently when it presents itself. Preferably before it becomes an Invasion of the Body Snatchers sort of situation. 😉
As a holistic health coach, I look at all the aspects of your life or what I call Vital Foods. These are the foods that really feed you—your relationships, work life, physical movement, spirituality and self-care. When one or more of these areas is out of balance, like staying in a toxic relationship or you’re totally uninspired at work, you compensate in unhealthy ways, like devouring a package of Oreos while watching Netflix for 6 hours straight.
These Vital Foods are all connected. If you’re going through a bad breakup and lack a spiritual practice to help keep you grounded and positive, you may be too bummed to exercise, connect with friends or focus at work—and down the dominoes fall. Grabbing that donut might look super tempting in times like this, but sometimes we’re not hungry for food at all. We’re craving the real nourishment that comes from love, intimacy, inspiration, exercise, laughter or a purposeful career.
Cravings Cause #2: Running on Vitamin AA Batteries
Nutritional deficiencies may seem pretty straightforward, but they’re complex enough that I’m going to dive more deeply into the topic next week. In the meantime, to put it in the plainest terms, if our bodies do not get the proper amount and balance of macronutrients and micronutrients every day, it simply won’t operate at an optimum level. And without the proper nourishment, we feel this deficiency in the form of cravings.
For example, if our body is deficient in certain minerals, it will produce salt cravings, while others will trigger a desire for non-nutritional forms of energy like sugar and caffeine. It’s all about decoding which cravings match with which nutrient, so you can feed your face with the proper nutrition.
Cravings Cause #3: The Sahara In Your Stomach
This is one of my little tricks to conquer most cravings: when you first feel the urge to indulge coming on, just drink a huge ass glass of water! Dehydration is often mistaken for hunger. For example, when you first wake up in the morning, you might feel like you’re starving, but in reality, you’re actually dehydrated.
If you think about it, our body is made up of roughly 80% water, so making sure you have adequate water content is super important. If you wait until you’re thirsty, it means you’re already dehydrated!
Cravings Cause #4: Those Aren’t The Snacks You’re Looking For…
For real, if I am feeling down in the dumps or overly exhausted, I start dreaming of bread, simple carbs and sugar. Alas, it’s just like a Jedi mind trick. Our levels of serotonin, the “feel-good” chemical that relays signals in our brain, are directly tied to how we feel, our appetite and how we digest our food—so my carb cravings are just part of what happens when those levels take a nosedive.
We will often reach for carbs and simple sugars because they immediately release serotonin, making us feel good in the moment, only to crash an hour or two later. Plus, sugar is highly addictive, so when our serotonin levels are low, our brain will trick us into believing a sugary, sweet pastry will help us feel better instead of something healthier and more nutritionally efficient.
Cravings Cause #5: Gutsy Girls Do It Better
Serotonin is mainly produced in the gastrointestinal tract (90%, in fact), so your gut health is super important in maintaining proper levels of this mighty neurotransmitter. It only makes sense that you have to do your best to keep your gut happy. To do that, you need to maintain a good balance of healthy bacteria, so your belly can absorb all the awesome nutrients you’re getting from that healthy, balanced diet on your resolution list (nudge, nudge). Then it can deliver the proper amount of serotonin to your brain through your gastrointestinal tract.
A diet rich in real, whole foods will calm cravings by ensuring your gut is happy and balanced. So make sure your meals include leafy greens, veggies, complex carbs, fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, as well as lean, pasture-raised meats and wild-caught fish (if you’re a carnivore like me). 🙂 Add in high-quality probiotics and you will create a beautiful environment for good bacteria to thrive.
Now that you know the most common causes of cravings, you’ll be better prepared to spot them when they occur. Plus, by learning to more efficiently manage habits like your water intake, sleep routine and self-care, you’ll be able to curb cravings before they begin.
We’ve all got ‘em, so let’s lay them out on the table. Which cravings do you struggle with the most? (For me, it’s cheese!) Did one of these causes ring a bell for you? Let me know in the comments below, so I can support your healthy livin’ journey!
LOVE + healthy habits!
Love this, thank you! My cravings are cereal, bread and mayo and chocolate (all things I have in the house “for my kids”)
OMG Rachael, bread is my numero uno craving too! If I’m feeling down or overly tied, all I want is a grilled cheese sandwich! Really, the best thing for me to do is not keep it in the house. I know it’s difficult with kids, but perhaps we can find a healthier version of those things for the adults 🙂
I have some good recipes for healthy Mayo, that’s super easy to make as well. And really high quality dark chocolate is not a bad thing, as long as we’re not devouring the whole damn bar! There is a great brand called Lily’s that makes a wonderful dark chocolate sweetened with stevia. No sugar at all, and you can’t tell the difference 🙂