Between holiday parties, holiday dinners, holiday leftovers, vacations and time-off, there’s a good chance you’ve been indulging. A lot. I mean isn’t that what the holidays are for? But if you’re finding that your cravings are more than celebratory cheer, take a deeper look. Many people experience uncontrollable cravings on a year-round basis that often lead to over-eating, eating the wrong things, and everyone’s favorite, weight gain. So before things get carried away, take a look at the foods and behaviors in your life that could be the underlying causes of your cravings. And try not to view them as a weakness; cravings are simply important messages meant to assist you in maintaining balance. When you experience a craving, deconstruct it and ask yourself, what does my body want and why?
The primary causes of cravings are:
- General Dissatisfaction: Being dissatisfied with a relationship, job or lack of exercise, being bored, stressed, uninspired, or sad may all cause emotional eating.
- Lack of 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
- Imbalanced Diet: Eating an imbalanced diet can cause cravings in order to maintain balance. In other words, too much of one thing generally causes a craving for the opposite. For example, eating a diet too rich in sugar may cause a craving for meat and salt, while eating a diet loaded with salt can cause a craving for sweets.
- The Past: Oftentimes, cravings come from foods eaten by our ancestors or foods from our childhood. A good way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier version of one’s favorite ancestral or childhood foods.
- Seasonality: Often the body craves foods that coincide with the seasons. 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, as I’m sure you’re well aware of at this given moment.
- 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.
- Hormonal: When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unique cravings. I’m looking at you, chocolate.