A food craving is an intense desire to consume a specific food, and is different from normal hunger. -Wikipedia
I teach people to listen to their body and respond to its needs. To succeed at this it’s important to understand that there are voices within us telling us to do things that do not serve our best interests. While I was writing this, my 3-year-old, Hero, ran into the kitchen.
“I’m hungry.” He said, and my mind turned to post-dinner food. And then, with impeccable timing he immediately continued, “No, I’m thirsty.” I believe in the space of an instant Hero initially associated that sensation of thirst with something else. He was innocent enough to work through it without even knowing.
One path to health and happiness is forged by recognizing those kinds of moments. If you can hear every syllable of a misleading voice you’ve just created an opportunity for change. Your second task is to create the next moment. Insert the action that you know serves your highest self – in lieu of the alternative. Much positive change is unrealized – not from a misunderstanding of what is, and what is not healthy, but in missing that moment when a sly voice becomes an impulse, becomes an action, continues a habit.
What we should be striving for is to find our unique perfect balance – what foods truly make us feel great, physically and emotionally? How often can we stray from our ideal food plan and still feel good? This is an ever-evolving process and it can be really fun and rewarding if approached from a place of loving oneself and honoring the priority of allowing one’s best health to shine through.
If the voice you hear is asking for excess processed food, refined sugar, too much alcohol, caffeine or drugs, what do you do? (Notice I said excess. Most of us don’t need a perfect diet – in fact, if our diet is too rigid it can lead to increased cravings, etc).
The next time you experience a craving, first, is it something that’s good for you that your body needs? If your awareness determines it really is just a craving, try one of these steps to see if you can instigate a small change:
- Drink a glass of water and wait 10 min. You may just be dehydrated.
- Do you need exercise? Could you go for a walk/run, do some yoga? You may feel tired from lack of exercise and then start craving sugar for a pick-me-up.
- Are you bored? Do something to occupy your mind!
- Do you need a hug or to call a loved one for a chat? Pay extra attention to your emotions when you experience cravings.
- In the case of sugar … try a protein snack and see if the craving is still there.
- If your sugar cravings are intense you can try adding lots of naturally sweet vegetables into your diet. Roasted beets, carrots and sweet potatoes are great choices.
I mentioned sugar many times but similar suggestions apply to other cravings as well. Once you decide to go forward with a craving do your very best to be ok with it. It won’t do any good to beat yourself up about your choice. What you can do is tell yourself that tomorrow is a new day to make loving food-choices for yourself.
A final thought – If you were feeding a child that you wanted to grow big and strong what would you feed them? Believe it or not this is what you should be feeding yourself. Try making yourself the healthiest meal imaginable … because, like that child – you deserve it.