Listening to Cravings
"The body doesn't make mistakes (Rosenthal)." The heart doesn't forget to beat, lungs don't have to be reminded to breathe, cells come together to form new skin on a wound, and yet when it comes to cravings, we often tell our body that it's wrong.
Cravings can be a challenging thing to navigate, but if we choose to view our bodies as our guide and companion, rather than an enemy or a negative/wild/out of control part of us, we begin to lay a foundation of truth and grounding for a more holistic mindset. By assessing our cravings, we can tap into a resource that guides us day by day into becoming our most whole and healthy selves in body, mind, and spirit.
Cravings are signals to listen to, not sensations to suppress. If you're craving ice cream and cheese, it may be because your body is needing more calcium, and by allowing your body to be fed quality sources of a certain nutrient, the craving may go away and save you from filling up on something that will only lead to feeling more deprived. If you're hungry for Indian food, it may be that your body is seeking the anti-inflammatory spices from that particular cuisine. So while some cravings may be rooted in emotions, memories, or a desire for a pleasing taste (all of which have a place in moderation!) our physical body is also at work speaking through cravings. Our job is to detect the root cause, moving from our taste buds and impulses into our body and spirit.
Cravings rooted in emotions are also a signal to be listened to rather than surpassed. If you crave massive amounts of comfort food or sugars, your body may be telling you that it's out of balance emotionally, relationally, or in your stress levels. The body is so intuitive that it will work to find balance by compensating when it senses any form of deprivation. So by caring for our emotional state (adding more joy, relationships, rest) the physical body won't be so ravenous for quick fixes that are less beneficial to us.
Whether you're learning to listen to your body's desire to be nourished physically after a season of illness or deprivation, or you're on a journey of honoring your emotional needs, being aware of cravings (and seeking professional assistance when necessary) is the perfect place to begin. Each day has to be treated as new, the body is full of new cells, the gut bacteria is different, your emotional responses shift. So what didn't work yesterday may be the very thing the body needs today....whether that's a sweet treat, extra carbohydrates, more protein, or a good laugh with a friend. The body is such an incredible advocate for our full restoration when we just listen!
Here are a few steps to help you get started in letting your cravings be your guide towards greater wellness:
1. Identify what food your body is craving.
2. In what form could you have this food and not have a negative medical or physical reaction and get the most nutrients?
-Example: gluten free, dairy free, nut free, whole wheat, added fiber or using organic eggs..... adapt adapt adapt to what works for your body!
3. Could this craving be an emotional response?
- Example: Are you feeling depleted emotionally, overwhelmed by stress, or disconnected emotionally or spiritually, looking for the food to fill that void? We can take into consideration that food can be a form of self-care during emotional upheaval and give ourselves permission to indulge in our desires without guilt, while also respecting our body by choosing moderation and balancing with foods that are nutrient dense and give our cells life instead of a battle to fight.
- Lastly, if you've addressed what the most beneficial way to fill your craving will be, whether it be for a slice of whole grain toast, a big green smoothie, a warm chocolate cookie, or time to relax and read your favorite magazine, then be free and delight!
May you listen intently to your cravings, creating an inner awareness that invites and indulges in ways that the body and heart feel satisfied and nourished.