10 Causes of Cravings
''Cravings are an invitation to create the next best version of ourselves"
The body is amazing. It knows when to go to sleep, wake up, go to the bathroom, maintain our temperature and tighten the eyes when the light gets bright. It knows the miracle of pregnancy and childbirth. The heart never misses a beat. Our lungs are always breathing. The body is a super-computer that never makes mistakes. So is your craving or that sweet tooth just a common desire for sweetness or excess? OR is it actually an invitation for something else?
Many people view cravings as weakness, but really they are important messages meant to assist us in maintaining balance.
When you experience a craving, deconstruct it. Ask yourself, what does my body want and why?
Let's take a closer look at cravings and ten primary causes:
- Lifestyle & mindset. Being dissatisfied with a relationship, feeling unloved or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void or the unhappiness within ourselves.
- Water. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced and mineralised well.
- Yin/yang imbalance. Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods or vise versa.
- Inside coming out. Often, cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors, or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s ancestral or childhood foods.
- Seasonal. Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog or sweets, etc.
- Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.
- Hormonal. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.
- De-evolution. When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens. We crave foods that throw us off, thus creating more cravings to balance ourselves. This often happens from low blood-sugar and may result in strong mood swings.
- Sleep. The right amount of sleep is fundamental to good energy and feeling good about ourselves. When we are low in energy or need comfort is also a time when we can experience cravings. Make sure to get enough sleep and enough restorative hours of sleep before 12:00am.
- Microbiome imbalance i.e. the bugs (bacteria, viruses etc) living within our digestive system can cause cravings. When this population of bugs is out of balance, without us realising it, we crave foods, especially sweet foods. OR these populations of ‘bugs’ can lead to disrupted sleep or mood, that then leads to cravings to try and lift our energy while at the same time satiating the nutritional needs of our microbial balance, not ours.
What about pregnancy cravings?
Even more so. Cravings during pregnancy can indicate imbalance in any one of the above points.
The most important thing is when a craving comes along - take time to slow down or stop, and listen to what your body is telling you. Be aware of the choices you're making and what's really driving them. It's only when you are aware that you can understand what it is your body needs and is best for you as an individual... And it's probably not going to be a bucket of hot chips or a block of milk chocolate.
Our cravings are an invitation to create the next best version of ourselves.
What is it you're really craving? Is it time to accept the invitation for a stronger, healthier, happier you?