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8 Primary Causes of Food Cravings, and What You Can DO About Curbing Them (or not)

Food cravings are very common! They’re sometimes really difficult to ignore and typically manifest through an intense or urgent desire for a specific type of food — though the food desired will vary from person to person.

Food cravings can be brought on by a variety of factors — be it physical or mental. Here are 8 primary causes of food cravings as taught to me at my school, The Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

1. Dehydration.

The body doesn't send the message that you are thirsty until you are on the verge of dehydration. Dehydration occurs as mild hunger, so the first thing to do when you get a strange craving is to drink a full glass of water.

2. Lifestyle.

Being dissatisfied with a relationship, 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 can all contribute to emotional eating. Eating can be used as a substitute for entertainment or to fill the void.

3. Yin/Yang Imbalance.

Certain food have more yin qualities (expansive) while other foods have a more yang qualities (contractive). Eating foods that are either extremely yin or extremely yang causes cravings in order to reestablish balance. Example: eating a diet too rich in sugar (yin) may cause a craving for meat (yang).

4. Inside Coming Out.

Cravings come from foods that we have recently eaten, foods eaten by our ancestors or foods from our childhood. A clever way to satisfy these cravings is to eat a healthier versions of one's ancestral or childhood foods.

5. Seasonal.

Often the body craves foods that balance out the elements of the season. Example: 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. In the Winter many crave hot and heat producing foods like meat, oil, and fat.

6.Lack of Nutrients.

If the body is getting an inadequate amount of nutrients, it will product odd cravings. Example, inadequate mineral levels produce salt cravings, and overall inadequate nutrition produces cravings for non-nutritional forms of energy like caffeine.

7. Hormones.

When women experience menstruation, pregnancy or menopause, fluctuating testosterone and estrogen levels may cause unusual cravings.

8. De-evolution.

When things are going extremely well, sometimes a self-sabotage syndrome happens, where we suddenly crave foods that throw us off balance. We then have more cravings to balance oursleves. This often happens from low blood sugar and may result in strong mood swings.

Information taken from "Integrative Nutrition" 3rd Edition, by Joshua Rosenthal

If you give in to your cravings, this is not something to beat yourself up about! It's natural to crave certain foods or have a taste for something. If you are not interested in giving into a craving, here are some ways to get past the roadblock.

  1. Hydrate

  2. Have some Protein

  3. Plan a meal that incorporates the craving. Cooking your own meal assures you know what's in it! IE if you're avoiding excess carbs and sugar why not try making something with alternatives that align with your diet such as a smoothie or some high fiber muffins.

  4. Try to avoid getting extremely hungry. Make sure you have pre-planned snacks!

  5. Slow down and breathe. Cravings can be overwhelming in times of high stress.

Work with me on your craving roadblocks in my health coaching program.

Taking new clients now!

In Health, and Love



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