How To Heal The 7 Most Common Food Cravings
Craving is a good thing. In matters of culinary art, craving creates wonders. ~ Andy Paula (Tweet this)
When it comes to food, the need for it is chronic. Once we’ve nourished ourselves, we are satisfied; but then, out of the blue, we get a need for hunger. There is no real scaling between the sensation of satisfaction and hunger. This makes getting a handle on our food choices and cravings a bit challenging for most.
This also points to why there is no real way to stop food cravings. You don’t stop them; you only become aware of them and in that awareness you find out a higher solution. By becoming attuned to our cravings we can find out what we are truly hungry for. From there we can make better decisions on how to nourish ourselves.
Before I dive into the common food cravings, take a moment to reference the previous article I wrote on the underlying causes of food cravings to get a better understanding of this phenomenon.
7 of The Most Common Food Cravings
Hunger – One of the few cravings that cannot be appeased with another solution. ~ Irwin Van Grove (Tweet this)
Aside from our natural chronic need for hunger, there are specific foods that the body tends to crave. This is no coincidence. Underneath each of these food cravings is a bigger clue. Let’s unfold the hidden messages of each of these cravings and see how we can heal them once and for all.
We crave sweets in all forms because of instinct. A long time ago, sweets were the best survival foods, as fresh ripe fruit was the most readily-available source of calories in the wild. Roots, leaves and other plants didn’t have many calories and animal flesh was harder to come by. Fruit on the other hand (when ripe and in season) was much more convenient.
However, the issue with this craving today is that it’s irrelevant. Sugar—even fruit sugar—is not an ideal source of energy. Additionally, because of industrial agriculture, fruit can be consumed in unhealthy quantities. If you wanted, you could eat a diet purely of bananas—not the most balanced diet.
Aside from the instinctive craving for sugar, there is also a reward mechanism in place. Sugar sends a surge of dopamine and other feel-good neurotransmitters to the brain when consumed. This signal tells our brains to eat more NOW or otherwise die of starvation. Like drugs, sugar makes us become addicted to nothing other than dopamine itself. Dopamine tells us life is good and we attach that meaning to whatever gave us the high, in this case, sweets.
Moving beyond a sugar craving starts with using the higher brain and it’s power to address our true needs. Chances are your life is not truly in a state of pure survival, therefore a dopamine high is pointless. In America especially, we have more than we need.
Getting out of the sugar craving takes seeking that instinctive desire for a high in more healthy places, such as a creative hobby. Establish a new goal in your life, like learning something new, cultivate a talent or skill, or perhaps expanding your social circle.
As you take steps to grow your life in new and exciting ways your brain will reward you with more natural doses of dopamine, without the negative side-effects of sugar. The added benefit is a life of passion.
Chocolate cravings are typically connected to sugar cravings, as most chocolate-cravers, also crave sugar. So definitely address the sweet craving in addition to addressing a chocolate craving for the best results. What’s unique about chocolate is its oxytocin and phenylethylamine (PEA) content, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel bliss or the feeling of being in romantic love.
In my experience and work with clients, an intense craving for chocolate (it’s okay to enjoy and like chocolate but an unshakable desire is something else) may indicate you are unfulfilled romantically or in love. This goes for both single and partnered individuals. The simple solution for this is to fall in love again, and again, and again. Commit to love each moment. This doesn’t mean chase lust.
It means to commit to the path of love each day—whatever that means for you; however, you will likely feel most fulfilled from the intimacy of being your true self. The highest form of love is acceptance. By embracing and being your truest self, you must accept yourself. When you do, you will experience the bliss of “finding the one” that’s because “the one” is you.
Find ways to express your true self; intimate and honest conversations within relationships, do some exercise, or if it’s a romantic partner you wish for, seek it out. You will notice your chocolate cravings vanish in proportion to the amount of love you feel in life. Because your true nature is of pure love, this isn’t a difficult task. Embrace your true power, connect to others who remind you that you are whole and be clear on what you want.
Not all dairy products are created equally. There is a vast difference between pasture-raised, organic and raw dairy verses homogenized and pasteurized dairy from grain-fed animals. Typically, cravings do not happen with real food. If you crave dairy products, it’s likely you crave some sort of commercialized version of the stuff: yogurt, cheeses, or ice cream. All of which, when pasteurized have no enzymes to break them down and make them digestible, making them the perfect food for unhealthy gut-flora.
This is a good time to mention that it is usually gut-flora, which makes us crave foods, as they direct our hormones big time. These opportunistic bacteria will seek their food sources in clever ways. Making you crave indigestible foods so they can feed on the undigested parts. Pasteurized dairy also tends to have loads of sugar, more food for bad bacteria. Poor-quality dairy (more than raw) has plenty of mood-altering properties. Milk has plenty of L-tryptophan, which triggers the release of feel-good serotonin.
Bananas do this too, along with most carbohydrates. The choline in milk also has soothing properties and the milk sugar (lactose) gives a spike of energy. If you crave dairy, opting for a very high-quality raw (and grass-fed) form of it will tend to yield good results—that is, unless you are dairy intolerant, which you would want to address in fixing your gut. Aside from that, your dairy cravings could be purely emotional, as many of us learned that dairy (especially milk) is a source of comfort.
If you’re sensitive to dairy, try fermenting it. The fermentation makes is not only probiotic-rich, which would eliminate any bad pathogens making you crave sugar, but it will also get rid of the sugar content. This will make it much less habit-forming and actually therapeutic for the gut and brain. There are also nut milk options. Make your own almond or coconut milks using a high-speed blender and a nut milk bag for a healthy alternative.
Overall, as long as you’re not reaching for the processed dairy options then overcoming a dairy craving may be as simple as upgrading and finding a way to comfort yourself otherwise—such as a nice bath, reading a book or doing yoga.
4. Fatty food
Again, like dairy, not all fat is created equally. A craving for fried fatty foods is going to stem from a different place than a craving for an avocado. If you’re craving fat always check in and see if an avocado or other healthy fat source (nuts/seeds, coconut, wild salmon, etc.) would meet your needs.
If not, then there is likely a deeper cause of the craving. In general, we crave fat when we are stressed. Highly stressed individuals need more fat as it is very anti-inflammatory and soothes the nervous system. People, who have high-stress jobs, do a lot of thinking, or are very athletic may tend to crave fat more than other individuals who are more relaxed. If this is you, you may find fat cravings diminish with daily downtime (also, by consuming the healthier fat sources mentioned above).
On an emotional level, a fat craving such as french-fries or full-fat ice cream may come from feeling empty or lonely. If your relationships (business, romantic, family, etc.) are not fulfilling, you will likely want to be filled some other way; fat is very filling. If this is the case for you, remember this truth; you are connected to the whole. You are already complete; there is nothing to add to you.
In fact, if we were each born in the image of God, than that means that image would be formless, bodiless. Which must mean the state of perfection or wholeness we seek is an illusion. That there must have been unnecessary things added to us, which have clouded the window of seeing our wholesomeness.
Ironic as it may seem, feeling empty is rarely solved by filling yourself up. Instead, strip down everything that is not you to realize your true self—the curious observer, the witness, and the awareness of your awareness. What could be more complete than that? Fat is grounding; so getting grounded in your own inner being will prove the most rewarding cure for fat cravings.
5. Salty & Crunchy
Most salty and crunchy cravings are found in hormonally-stressed women, especially during that time of the month. A craving for salt occurs when the body is overly stressed. This is because the adrenals balance sodium and potassium levels. The adrenals also govern the stress response. Menstruation is a physiological stress on the body, which puts an extra demand on these little glands.
If you’re a woman and menstruating and that is the cause of your salty and crunchy craving then don’t ignore it. However, before you grab a bag of potato chips, try some steamed veggies, an avocado with real, unrefined sea salt. The minerals in this sea salt are plentiful and will nourish the adrenals.
Where refined salt is purely an overload of sodium, which further stresses the adrenals due to the lack of potassium and other micro-minerals. Some other tips that will help with these cravings would be to de-stress with a walk in nature.
Nature has a way of dissolving stress; it might have something to do with the immense amount of space one gains in being out in the open doors. Once outside, become conscious of what is triggering stress in your life (if it’s not only female-hormone related). Once you’ve found that trigger, commit to taking a simple action to dissolve the stress. Have a conversation, write a letter, or . . . perhaps you might need to summon acceptance for what is.
6. Refined carbs
Bread, crackers, pasta and more . . . these list of foods are some of the most tantalizing and addictive to people who can’t seem to get a hold on their dietary choices. But why?
There are a few reasons
First, there is the smell, the texture and the taste, all which can alter our moods in an instant. The refined carbs are the ones we have to be careful of. They are loaded with sugar that destroys our brains and breaks down our bodies. Whole food carbs such as quinoa, rice, and potatoes are a different story. They have whole food constituents that breakdown properly in the body and fuel us in a healthy way.
Carb cravings are another one that is commonly triggered by stress. When stress levels rise, cortisol goes up and we feel anxious and out of control, as if our lives are in danger. Carbs will bring down cortisol levels by raising blood sugar temporarily. So if you were emotionally hurt, even, you might start to crave carbs to balance yourself out.
Does your life seem complicated? This could be the cause for a carb craving. The problem with relying on carbs or food as a fix is that it is very short-lived and you eventually revolve your entire life around looking to food for a fix that never solves anything. You have to find more sustainable ways to find emotional balance. The best way to do this is to prevent it. Notice how you get stressed and why. Instead of thinking about it, feel about it. Next time you feel stressed, pay attention to your body.
What is stress even? Often when someone says they’re stressed, what they are trying to say is that they are feeling a certain way; they are breathing fast, their heart is racing, or they are sweating.
All these cues can be altered with awareness. If you’re stressed, pay attention to the body. If you feel like you can’t breathe, then—wonderful—now take a deep breath. Also, take steps to remove unnecessary stress from your life. Us humans have an uncanny ability to solve problem we don’t have. Where are your problems? Can you point them out to me? Likely not, because they don’t exist. They’re in your mind. So do yourself a favor and pay attention to that so you don’t go on creating stressful events from nothing but stressful thoughts.
Many beverages trigger cravings; the biggest are sodas, alcohol, and caffeinated ones. Each is addictive because of the intense release of excitatory neurotransmitters they release upon consumption. If you are craving these beverages, it’s likely due to one reason; you wish to gain more space.
When we feel that are lives are mundane, overly routine or drab we start to feel convinced. This gives us a sense of lost space, we feel trapped. These beverages are drug-like in that they help us gain space. They give us a high. This helps us tackle problems that otherwise make us stressed just thinking about them. We feel more powerful when we have a lot of space to work with, things are less serious when you’re on a brain-high.
However, as you can see, over time with the continued consumption of these substances, there will be negative side-effects. Most of them contain an abundance of toxins, chemicals and most of the time sugar. This weakens the body; causes glycation (the breakdown of tissues) and can lead to a weakened immune system. Instead, if you are consistently craving these beverages find a new outlet, a new way to gain space.
Stay true to your feelings and make moves to meet your genuine needs. If you’re stressed over a project, then get help from others; create a community of like-minded individuals and work together to lessen the loads. Spend more time in nature; even take your work into nature if you can! You may also notice that a green smoothie gives you more clean energy than most stimulants.
If you’re a coffee fanatic, then upgrade to a toxin-free coffee like Bulletproof. You can swap soda and alcohol for coconut kefir and kefir soda. Lastly, tune into inspiration. This word literally means “in spirit” and when in spirit, we gain all the space in the world. Start making moves to live your dreams, even if they are small steps (like 10 minutes of practice).
Remember that body-fat lasts a lot longer than flavor !!