How do you feel when you're struck by a mad craving?
Whether it's for chocolate, french fries, steak, ice cream or booze, most of us mistakenly believe cravings are a sign of weakness, a lack of willpower, and an overall bad thing (thus making you a bad person for having them). They're often something we want to squash, ignore, or hush with unsatisfying substitutes.
I'd like you to consider that cravings are actually a good thing.
Cravings are your body's way of telling you something is out of balance.
The key is to listen to and decode the messages it's sending you. Here's how:
The first step when a craving strikes is to pause and become still. Listening to your craving is essential, yet impossible without presence and awareness.
Rather than try to push it away, ignore it, quiet it with an unsatisfying substitute, or stuff it down as fast as possible, welcome your craving with open arms. Greet it with compassion and curiosity, rather than contempt or judgment.
Notice if your craving is driven by a physical or emotional hunger. Feel and honor what wants to be felt. Try not to suppress or fight your feelings or urges. Rather, befriend and breathe into them.
Play detective. Investigate the source of your craving. Try to reveal the underlying cause that's triggering it.
You may truly have a nutritional need, or your body might be really yearning for a non-food form of nourishment that your mind is trying to pacify with food or drink. Ask yourself what you're really hungry for.
Here are just a few examples of craving causes:
- You may crave meat, eggs or nut butter when your body needs protein or is yearning to feel more grounded, stronger or more mentally focused.
- Chronic chocolate cravings may arise when you're magnesium deficient.
- A sweet treat hankering may be your solution for a mood or energy boost when what you really need is a hug, nap or walk.
- A craving for cereal with milk or grandma's special casserole could be a desire for the ease, security and comfort of childhood.
- Urges for foods like ice cream, pudding and avocado are often driven by anxiety as their creamy texture relaxes and soothes. A hot bath, massage or some meditative breaths may better alleviate your tension.
5. Restore Balance
The longer you ignore your craving, the bigger the backlash or binge. By getting to the root of your craving, you will know how to best nourish it.
When you befriend and deconstruct your cravings, they will point you toward the foods and lifestyle you need to restore balance.