Stress, stress baby!!! OK, so we’re off! Off to the start of a new school year, new season on the way and the ever so predictable but paradoxically unpredictable CHANGE! The body’s response to stress can be a struggle and one of those struggles is food craving! Why does this happen? The brain has a “go-to” response to stress that may trigger food cravings; for example you develop a connection to food via stress. Food is a big comfort for people who experience stress, because of this it is important to recognize cravings as messages. Messages that will help aid us in restoring balance. Here are six common causes for cravings and what they mean. Just another tool in the toolbox!
Six causes of food cravings are:
1. There’s just something missing. Being dissatisfied with a relationship or having an inappropriate exercise routine (too much, too little or the wrong type), being bored, stressed, uninspired by a job, or lacking a spiritual practice may all cause emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void of insufficient primary food (the things we love and give us purpose in life).
2. Water. Lack of water can send the message that you are thirsty and on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration can manifest as a mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a craving is drink a full glass of water. Excess water can also cause cravings, so be sure that your water intake is well balanced.
3. The balancing act: Yin/yang imbalance. Certain foods have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to maintain balance. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang). Eating too many raw foods (yin) may cause cravings for extremely cooked (dehydrated) foods or vise versa.
4. Seasons. Often the body craves foods that balance the elements of the season. In the spring, people crave detoxifying foods like leafy greens or citrus foods. In the summer, people crave cooling foods like fruit, raw foods and ice cream, and in the fall people crave grounding foods like squash, onions and nuts. During winter, many crave hot and heat-producing foods like meat, oil and fat. Cravings can also be associated with the holidays, for foods like turkey, eggnog or sweets.
5. Lack of nutrients. If the body has inadequate nutrients, it will produce odd cravings. For example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy, like caffeine.
6. Hormones. When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings.
Stop and consider why you are experiences these cravings in “real time” or in other words, when they occur. Having a heightened sense of awareness is a major step in your wellness journey! Namaste!
© Integrative Nutrition (2014)
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