Foods Cravings – What’s Going On?
I received a package in the mail from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (INN) — 🙂 Included in the box was a book by Joshua Rosenthal (founder of IIN) called none other than Integrative Nutrition.
I am impressed by Joshua and it was one of his videos that finally pushed me into joining the program, so I started reading the book the same day I received my box of goodies.
I read a chapter last night called “Deconstructing Cravings” — a topic that I’m interested in because it hits home for me. I am faced with food cravings every day (and often feel guilty for them). My biggest weaknesses are Boulder Potato Chips and Dark Chocolate 🙂
A major message Joshua presents is that food cravings are all right. They are not a sign of weakness. Instead they are providers of information about imbalances in your body, or emotional responses played out in the way of food.
He suggests that when your body is craving something to stop and ask — What is going on here? As these cravings usually have meanings behind them.
Joshua shares some interesting information in this chapter that help explain the reasons behind certain food cravings. I’ve shared some of this info below — perhaps it will be helpful to you too 🙂
Breakdown of Food Craving Tastes:
This category is definitely a category that that I crave frequently, and this is not unusual, as your body naturally craves sweet things, which provide your body with energy.
To feed these natural sweet cravings, Joshua suggests including sweet vegetables in the diet like carrots, onions, beets, winter squash, sweet potatoes and yams. He also suggests consuming a small amount of organic dark chocolate (YAY!)
The important thing is not to indulge in simple carbohydrates (like cakes, cookies, etc.) which quickly move through the body, providing little nutritional value. And best not to overindulge in the sweet category in general, as this causes inflammation in the body and feeds candida.
Cravings for salty foods often times point to a mineral deficiency in your body. This craving points to your body’s natural desire for more nutrition.
Instead of reaching for a bag of Boulder potato chips (LOL), or other processed salty food, Joshua recommends feeding this salty craving with high quality sea salt (which contains up to 60 different trace minerals) or sea vegetables (like seaweed) — which have a natural salty flavor.
Bitter foods help digestion, so cravings for them could point to digestive issues in your body. Joshua points out that most bitter cravings are improperly satisfied with coffee or dark beers.
Instead of reaching for these not so healthy choices, he suggests instead — dark leafy greens like dandelion and mustard greens, arugula, kale and collards, which naturally help break up blockages in the digestive track.
Pungent foods can help digestion as well, so cravings for them could also point to digestive woes. Cravings for heavy, saucy Chinese foods could point to the need for fresh ginger to help heal the intestines.
Other healthy choices to fulfill pungent cravings include cayenne, scallions, onions, leeks, garlic and pepper.
Cravings for spicy foods are often a result of an overly “cool” body — which is often accompanied by poor circulation in your body.
Joshua points out that many fill this craving with pizza or hot Mexican spices which warm up the body, but also create additional havoc. He suggests instead using natural spices to “warm” up the body like ground cayenne, oregano, basil, onions and garlic.
Breakdown of Food Consistency Cravings:
If cravings for creamy food items arise, Joshua suggests evaluating whether or not your recent diet includes a lot of bread or other baked products — foods that can cause dryness and stagnation. Cravings for ice cream, milk products or oily foods are the body’s way to correct this imbalance.
Moist or Liquid
If you are faced with cravings for something moist or liquid, evaluate if you’ve been eating a lot of salty, dry or baked flour products. This craving is likely an indication of dehydration in the body. Instead of filling this craving with sugary drinks like soda, drink some water instead 🙂
Crispy or Dry
On the opposite spectrum, cravings for crispy or dry foods indicates the consumption of too many liquids. Fill this craving with good choices like rice cakes or sesame sticks. Joshua also suggests baking your own potato chips — going to have to try this one 🙂
When cravings for heavy foods arise, consider if your recent diet has included a lot of fruits or vegetables — are your hands and feet cold? (Yes!) Raw foods make the body lighter and have a significant cooling effect on the body, which in turn then craves heavier, warming foods like meat.
On the Positive Side?
I think my biggest take away from this introduction to food cravings is that it’s OK not to be perfect all the time. Often times, being the Type A personality that I am, I beat myself up for giving into my food cravings.
But I think by forbidding certain things the body craves, that this only makes the cravings worse, likely leading to binge eating that makes me feel even worse!
I’ve heard accounts of many gals with endometriosis that have suffered with eating disorders in the past (or continue to struggle with them today). I believe that I too fall into this category — so better to have some then none 🙂
When I was reading Joshua’s suggestion for alternative foods to fulfill these cravings, I realized that a lot of what I’ve been doing is right 🙂 Again, it is not necessary for me to be perfect like my over achieving ways strive for. It’s OK to enjoy that which I love (in moderation).
I’ve been journaling my food choices for about a week now and have been taking note of these cravings (and often times fulfillment of them) and how I feel in that moment. I think that with a broader view of my eating patterns overtime, I will be able to better decipher the meanings behind my cravings.
Do you struggle with any food cravings? Have you found meanings behind them?
I’d love to hear from you.