Cravings can feel really overwhelming sometimes, can’t they? If you’re trying to follow a new way of eating, sometimes your favourite food can linger in the back of your mind all day long, daring you to eat it.
There are piles of books written about all the ways to power over your cravings, and tips and tricks to try to keep your cravings at bay.
But I’d like to offer you a different perspective—another way of looking at your cravings that may feel more doable, especially during these stressful times.
Instead of using willpower to ignore your cravings, what if you embraced them?
Do you have a craving?
Let me tell you about a woman I met with a few years ago, a woman named Jane*.
Jane is a radiant woman, around 50 years old, who lights up any room she enters. I had known her personally and professionally for a few years before she walked into my office for some nutrition help.
She had originally booked her appointment with me for a nutrition overview; she had recently made a dietary change and wanted to make sure everything was balanced.
But…out came a very interesting symptom. Every four to six weeks she’d have a huge craving and would spend at least two or three days (sometimes weeks) indulging in it.
What was her craving, you ask? It was for pink icing.
I love interesting cravings. Especially specific ones like this one. It’s not chocolate icing or vanilla icing, but pink icing.
Oooo, what a great clue.
Jane and I dove into her craving to learn exactly why her body wanted it so badly.
Jane worked a physically and mentally demanding job that needed a steady supply of energy. She also had many characteristics of the pitta dosha in Ayurvedic medicine (strong-willed, entrepreneurial, strong body). And she had fully removed all sweet foods from her diet.
All sweet foods, including fruit and starchy veggies, are currently out of food fashion so it’s common for people who are looking to eat a healthy diet to limit or remove these foods, like Jane.
But Jane’s work life and her pitta constitution need a steady stream of energy, and pitta bodies are balanced by sweet flavours. So she was unintentionally removing the very flavour that her body needed for energy and balance.
Adding that pink icing was her favourite comfort food when she was a kid, it makes sense that her body would choose that specific food for her sugar indulgences. It was the sweet food her body knew she had the least amount of willpower against and it was the food her body knew she would always eventually eat. Hence, the pink icing binge.
Instead of removing pink icing from her diet, we looked at adding sweet tasting food, including lots of fruit. And, instead of denying her icing craving until she couldn’t say no any longer, I recommended she stay curious about it. How strong is it, what triggers it, does it change with extra sweet foods?
The next time I saw Jane she was enjoying a lot of fruit and reaping the rewards. Her body had found balance, she had more energy, and she felt fantastic.
Yes, she still likes pink icing, but the drive is less, and she better understands what triggers her craving.
Your craving is telling you something
What if your favourite craving wasn’t something to willpower over, but an important clue to find out what your body is asking for? Wouldn’t that feel liberating?
Your body is always looking for balance and it sends you signs and requests all the time. That craving lingering in the back of your mind right now might be your body’s request for something that will be balancing.
Your body is your very best friend and is your best ally in your health, but that can be hard to believe when your body is asking for something super refined and sugary all day, like Jane’s pink icing. I don’t believe your body actually wants that refined food, but for Jane, her body knew it was the one sweet food she couldn’t resist.
Your body may also be looking for something sweet, like more fruit or starchy veggies. In today’s anti-carb world, sugar cravings are getting louder and louder as our bodies ask for some easy energy. Or, your body might be looking for something salty or savoury.
Whatever your body is asking for, there’s usually a reason behind it. And by using your cravings as a guide, you can start to uncover how your body is looking to be fed.
I’ve noticed that once you learn the wisdom behind your craving, it gets much quieter. Sometimes it goes away entirely.
Start by noticing the pattern of your cravings; what food do you crave and when do you crave it? Then, notice how you feel if you enjoy some of that craving. These are the first steps to unlocking your body’s wisdom.
Understand your cravings and find food freedom. It can be that simple…and delicious.
*Story has been shared with permission but name has been changed for privacy.
Lisa Kilgour, RHN is one of Nature’s Fare Markets’ nutritionists a sought after speaker and educator who helps people heal from diverse and complex health issues. She has spoken at TEDxKelowna and is the author of Undieting: Freedom from the Bewildering World of Fad Diets. Check out the nutritionist schedule on page four and book your free appointment today at naturesfare.com.
Learn more: lisakilgour.com
This article was published in The Good Life.