Lady Shanny decided to ask her own question this week.

How do you deal with cravings?

A craving is defined as a:  Powerful desire for a substance that cannot be ignored.

I’ve heard two different opinions on cravings, one being that they are purely psychological and the other being that they are a physical need.  I think it’s a little of both.  I think the mind and the body both work together to figure out a way to get what they need from you, whether what they need/want is what’s best for you or not.

I actually don’t believe that the desire for any particular food is really as simple as just an urge to eat something junky.  I truly believe that everything you crave is because your body is missing something either from a nutrient in the food or an emotion that the food provides or calms.  Craving a fast food hamburger?  Maybe you’re low in iron (provided by the meat).  Craving potato chips?  Maybe you’re actually running low on sodium or you’re retaining water from lack of sodium (water retention works both ways, kids!).  I truly believe that the best thing to do when you’re having a full-on craving is to break down what it is that you want to eat into the basic nutrient blocks and figure out what it is that you could be missing.  Then get that nutrient from another, healthier source.  I think you’ll be surprised how quickly you can banish that craving.

But what if what you’re craving has nothing to do with a missing nutrient?  What if you just really want ice cream because it will make you feel good?  Well, that’s the mind part of the mind-body connection.  I think that your brain remembers the last time you had ice cream and how you felt.  It remembers the day and what was going on.  If you need to feel that emotion again (eg. content, happy) it picks up on the easiest thing to re-create, the ice cream, and makes you crave it.  It’s much harder when it’s an emotional ‘nutrient’ that you’re missing but you can still work with that.  You need to sit down and pretty quickly (this shouldn’t take all day!) figure out what comfort or emotion you’re missing or wanting.  What are you expecting the ice cream to do for you?  Once you figure that out you can go and get whatever it is from a non food source.

I’m not saying that every craving means something deep and life changing.  I’m just saying that I believe (because I practice it) that you can spend a couple minutes doing some thinking and figure out what your mind or body is hoping to gain from whatever it is making you crave.  And that allows you to either have the item in moderation or to have something else (or nothing) and feel as though the urge has been satisfied.

This whole theory could be a load of hoo-ey and maybe it doesn’t work at all.  Lord knows it doesn’t have any basis in known scientific fact.  I just thought I would share something that has always worked for me and allowed me to avoid a crave-based disaster.

What’s the last thing that you craved, and using the ideas listed above, what do you think you were missing?


1 Comment

  1. Marueze said,

    February 16, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Good Question…I craved chips. . . had celery and hummus instead. . . didn’t figure pointage. . .I weigh in Sat AM so Sat’s are free for me. But part of my problem is that it rolls over into Sunday’s at times. . .but today I was controlled. Wanted crunch and probably salt which the celery has naturally. (Feeling pretty good since I had a good loss of 2 lbs this week even though I was carb challenged this week.)

    Problem for me is that I just love eating/noshing and if I don’t make a good choice I could be in trouble. If I went with the chips I would have over done it and if I went with a dip double ditto. I like the hummus but don’t over indulge so it works for me.

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