By Amy Anderson:
Just curious, when you get a major junk food or sugar craving do you fight the good fight or cave to the crave? For me, it depends. Cravings are tricky business and can really throw us off, even when we are really focused on doing better. So why is it we get these pesky cravings anyway?
There are a few reasons. The one that I had going on yesterday was shear exhaustion. I have really been practicing mindfulness on the regular for the past few years and I have learned to recognize how I'm feeling and what the effects of those feelings are. Without a doubt the majority of my cravings occur when I'm feeling sleep deprived. This is not coincidence, it's all chemical. Isn't it fun that our bodies tend to crave foods that are high carb, fat and salt when we're super tired? Yeah, thanks body.
Does this sound familiar? Pay attention next time, see if that's true for you too.
Another reason you might crave junk or sugar is based on your emotions. You might crave those comfort foods when you're feeling sad or mad or frustrated. This is all happening in the brain (rather than the hormones). The reward center of your brain runs quite an operation. That's also where we get addicted (yes, it can be a true addiction) to sugar. Unfortunately most of us don't consider salad or carrot sticks a comfort food.
Sometimes our bodies are trying to tell us what we are lacking by making us crave certain foods. Craving a big o'll burger? Your iron might be low. Feel like you need some chocolate? Perhaps your magnesium is deficient. Naturally there are good and less ideal ways to respond to those cravings, but the point is, pay attention. You might learn to handle them a better way!
Now back to the question, should you cave to the crave? It depends. Sometimes you absolutely should. It doesn't mean you have to go crazy with it, but deprivation is bound to set you up for even more cravings. The best thing you can do, especially if this is a frequent problem, is pay attention to what's driving your cravings and first, take measures to prevent them (work on improving your sleep, eat a balanced diet, find healthy ways to deal with emotions) and when that doesn't work, give it some time. Sometimes those cravings will pass in a few minutes. If it's a real stinker, go for it. If you're craving sugar for example, you don't have to eat every sweet in sight, try to have something that you truly enjoy and savor it. Make it last a little bit and take time to taste and appreciate it and you will find that you're satisfied with much less.
If cravings are killing your progress towards living a healthier lifestyle, join us for EMBER (Eat, Move, Breathe, Evolve, Repeat) Group Health Coaching in the 10 Open Tabs Virtual Wellness Center and we will get to the bottom of it! There is no one answer for everyone so we will work to find what works for YOU.