Remember last week when I said I would come up with some solutions? Well here it is. Sometimes we are just in the mood for something sweet, crunchy, creamy or chocolaty. Cravings aren’t necessarily all bad. It’s our body’s way of telling us what we need to find balance. I often work to de-code what cravings really are about with my clients. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular cravings:
Sugar Cravings. Cravings for sweets could be the result of low blood sugar or the need to reduce stress as consuming sugar instantly makes us feel lighter. After a really stressful day we want to "lighten up". I think of sugar as kind of a fast ride that’s kind of fun to go on. When it’s 3:00 pm at your desk when you’re really bored, a ride on the Tilt a’ Whirl might be kind of fun. For some sugar cravings come from eating too much meat and the body craves sweet to find a balance. Our bodies want to balance yin and yang. Meat is extremely yang and when eaten in excess the body craves sugar, which is extremely yin. The best way to nix cravings is to eat neutral foods that are naturally balanced such as brown rice, greens, fish and vegetables. The addition of root vegetables that are sweet can help balance sugar cravings. I find a baked sweet potato with a little nutritional yeast sprinkled on top with hemp or coconut oil makes a nice snack. Sugar cravings could also mean that your life lacks sweetness. If that is the case talk to a sweet friend, enjoy a sweet smelling flower or an essential oil.
Salty food cravings can often stem from a mineral deficiency. Sometimes people who take a lot of medications or supplements can crave salt to balance out what they are already taking in. Cravings for crunchy foods might stem from the desire to crunch out and not hear something (such as your angry boss). No wonder so many office vending machines have crunch salty snack food. Donna Gates, who wrote The Body Ecology Diet, mentions a great alternative, try some cultured veggies on top of blue corn chips. This snack offers that crunch in a really nutritious way. You can find cultures veggies already made from Rejuvenative Foods at Whole Foods, Karyn's or you could also make your own. Body Ecology has some good recipes to try out.
Do you crave alcohol with meals? Alcoholic beverages can help the body digest heavy fatty foods like wine and cheese. Most people drink to feel lighter after a rough day. Notice that cocktail hour doesn’t usually begin at 9:00 am. One suggestion I have is to try Kombucha, which is a fermented drink with only 0.5% alcohol. Kombucha is packed with B-vitamins and immune-supportive probiotics. Also other fermented foods like sauerkraut and Kim chi can combat cravings for alcohol can help digestion even more and without the hangover!
Spicy cravings usually happen for many people that have poor circulation or cold hands and feet. Pizza, BBQ ribs, and tacos are some foods that are commonly used to get our circulation and spirits going. Instead of a big slice of pizza maybe a spicy soup or marinara sauce might do the trick.
Coffee cravings especially after meals are a sign that your digestion might be weak. Instead of coffee you could try digestive enzymes or this ayurvedic remedy: 1 tsp of minced ginger in a TBS of lime juice with a little sea salt. Coffee is a very bitter food you could try adding more bitter greens to your diet. If you need coffee in the morning you might want to try some intense cardio or interval training to see if that wakes you up without the java. If fatigue is an issue you may want to see a naturopath to see if you have any deficiencies. Iron deficiencies may cause fatigue especially among menstruating women. Iron rich foods include read meat, dried apricots, greens, clams, pumpkin seeds and tahini.
Creamy and cold food cravings are often about wanting comfort especially if you are depressed. Ice cream is probably the most popular coping mechanism for the heartbroken. Instead of finding love at the bottom of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s can you get support from a friend, preferably a sweet friend? Another option is to have creamy protein smoothie or just have one scoop or a treat from the good ole ice cream man and make sure you eat it undistracted to fully savor it. Cold food cravings can sometimes be a sign that you are simply craving cold water. Try drinking two cold glasses of water and see if that ice cream craving goes away.
For many chocolate is pure love. Those who crave chocolate are addicted to the theobromine in chocolate that makes us feel like we are in love. Women suffering from PMS crave chocolate due to its high magnesium content as stress depletes magnesium. I see no issue with having a small piece of organic dark chocolate if you don’t eat an entire bag or box at one sitting. Supplementing with magnesium can also eliminate chocolate cravings. Carob powder works well in recipes in place of traditional cocoa powder. I also like mesquite meal, which is brown in color like chocolate but has more of a sweet butterscotch flavor. One quick and easy protein shake I like to make includes Almond milk along with pea or hemp protein, 2 TBS of Mesquite Meal, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1-2 TBS of tahini or other nut butter, some ice, just through in a blender and blend.
Another way to combat cravings is by using a tongue cleaner; a thin U-shaped apparatus usually made of stainless steel and has been used by Ayurvedic enthusiasts for centuries. Cleaning the tongue of leftover food can actually reduce cravings. You can then appreciate the more subtle flavors from veggies, fruits and grains. When you start adding in whole foods you'll crowd out those other less healthy cravings.
For many nighttime eating is a craving in a sense. After a stressful day one might be more vulnerable to pulling up a chair to the refrigerator. We human beings want to make everything better; if we had a crappy day then eating good food is a way to make ourselves feel better. Only problem is that nighttime eating can pack on pounds and ruin digestion. I'm not saying don't eat dinner but instead combat p.m. pig-outs with a yoga practice. Pop in your favorite DVD or better yeat head to a class with other folks you are also avoiding overeating too. You'll feel relaxed yet energized and strong enough to face your packed fridge.