Editor’s note: This article was originally published on LiveWellNebraska.com
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By Heather Caspersen
LIVEWELLNEBRASKA GUEST BLOGGER
Do you ever get those uncontrollable cravings for chocolate, salty foods or a big juicy steak? What is it specifically that you crave? Stop and think about when and why you crave that particular food or beverage. Getting to the root cause of your cravings is what will eventually help you curb them.
Cravings are often attributed to a lack of discipline/control or hunger and appetite. But cravings can also be our body’s way of crying out for something else – sometimes totally unrelated to food.
Think of your craving as a critical piece of information. Use it to better learn/understand your body’s needs. Next time you feel like you can’t live without a Big Mac or something from Starbucks, think about the following five things:
Water.We often have strange cravings simply because we’re dehydrated. How much water should you drink? Take your weight and divide by two and drink that many ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs, you’d drink 75 oz. of water a day.
Primary Food.Primary food refers to aspects of your life meant to nourish you as a whole — career, spirituality, relationships, physical activity. Maybe you’re in an unhealthy relationship and are craving sugar as a way to replace the void of sweetness in your life? Are you dissatisfied in your career and find yourself eating out of boredom or stress on the job? Find little ways to improve your “primary food,” and the nutritional improvements will come.
Yin-Yang imbalance.Our bodies are always trying to maintain homeostasis (balance). When we consume too many yang foods (think meat and dairy), we naturally crave yin foods, like white flour and sugar, as a way to lighten up. Nutrient-dense, whole foods like brown rice, quinoa, leafy green vegetables and sweet vegetables all have a mild effect on the body.
Inside coming out.Sometimes cravings are associated with a particular memory. For me, it’s chocolate chip cookies and milk. My mother didn’t work Wednesday afternoons, and she would always have a few ready on a plate when I’d get home from school. Now, this treat makes me feel just as warm and loved as it did when I was younger. Restricting yourself from the foods you enjoy usually doesn’t work for most people. I either try to eat a healthier version of chocolate chip cookies (homemade, gluten-free and made with natural sweeteners) or simply eat one and enjoy each and every morsel guilt-free. Here’s an alternative recipe for healthier peanut butter cups
Lack of nutrients. The modern American diet is full of processed, prepackaged foods, loaded with empty calories. They lack key vitamins and minerals, thus forcing our bodies into craving. Inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings. And you know that need for caffeine? A lot of times this is thanks to poor overall nutrition.
Heather Caspersen is a certified health coach with a bachelors in health promotion and management. She works for Family Resources of Greater Nebraska. Learn more about Heather here.