Ever had a craving you just can’t shake? Is there only one particular food that can always pull you out of an emotional rut? Have you ever wondered where the phrase “Eat your feelings” even comes from?
Of course you have! You’re only human! Most people accept food cravings as a normal part of everyday life without really ever asking “why?” No two bodies are the same and therefore no two reasons behind a specific food craving are the same. While some may be rooted in nutritional deficits – others may be a deeper signal from our spirit echoing throughout our bodies. Your mind, body, and spirit communicate through an intricate language, which isn’t always easy to decipher. However, with a little effort, you can translate these signals and create the harmony needed for improved health.
For most, we’ve been taught to “overcome” our bodily cues. For example, when a person has a headache, they’re taught to reach for the Advil bottle rather than lying down and drinking lots of water. However, no matter how much you resent, ignore, or overlook your bodily cues – they’re not going to go away.
When looking at food cravings specifically, emotions are one the most common causes for overeating. Our cravings tend to manifest themselves when we’re feeling vulnerable. Rather than expressing our emotions, we tend to stuff them down with “comfort foods” that give our bodies a false sense of fulfillment. After a while, your body learns this routine and sends cravings in order to create a short-term boost of chemical components. By deciphering the real meaning of your cravings, you can get insight as to what’s truly gnawing at you from within.
Having some knowledge about what our cravings can mean, may help us to reduce unhealthy habits and poor food choices. The following are the three most commonly craved food flavors and a starting point for you to decrypt what your mind, body, and spirit are really trying to tell you.
- Tired or Lack of Energy
- Blood Sugar imbalances
- Chromium or Magnesium deficiencies
- Fatty Acid deficiency
There have been a number of studies that show sugar can affect the same brain regions as drugs and alcohol. This is because simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are digested faster than complex carbohydrates and give an immediate energy boost. Chocolate specifically is also metabolized to serotonin, a mood-boosting hormone so cravings can also be related to an emotional need. However, this momentary mood improvement is generally followed by a serious drop, which spurs people to reach for another sugary snack and forms an addictive cycle.
- Fresh Fruit
- Healthy Cocoa or Dark Chocolate
- Getting a massage
- Talking with loved ones
- Long walks
- Any activity that makes you feel good
Instead of indulging and grabbing the closest candy bar, choose a piece of fruit when you’re craving sweets. Giving into cookies, cakes, soft drinks or other refined sweets will only make the problem worse and cause a blood sugar roller coaster that leads to more cravings. When you’re seeking to balance this, think about whether or not any other experiences could satiate the craving, such as getting a massage or a bath or sitting in the beauty of nature. Besides healthy cocoa or dark chocolate, reach for a loved one, friend, pet or any activity that makes you feel good. The important thing is to remember that there is a difference between sweetness that heals and sweetness that temporarily bandages.
- Low electrolyte levels
- Chloride Deficiency
- Iodine deficiency
When adding those fries on the side seems too good to pass up – it may be time to reevaluate your daily life. Excess and constant life stress can lead to adrenal exhaustion, and you might be pushing yourself further than your body can handle. Your body craves salt when your stress levels are intensely raised for a prolonged period of time and deplete your adrenal glands ability to create aldosterone, a hormone that helps to retain sodium. With reduced levels of sodium, your body is unable to absorb a proper amount of water and can become dehydrated. A hankering for salt may be related to iodine deficiency as well, as it is the body’s way of calling out for natural sea-based minerals.
Salt cravings can indicate that you are trying to "solidify" yourself in your overwhelmed state. Subconsciously, you may be trying to fortify yourself with the hardness and strength of salts solid construct in order to deal with your situation.
- Vitamin B rich foods (Nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables)
Rather than fortifying and enforcing the walls around you, find strength in trust and flexibility. The hardness you wish to develop through salts only creates resistance, not healing. Instead of devouring an entire bag of potato chips – try distressing in more healthy and productive ways. Eat foods rich in Vitamin B such as oats or wild salmon to increase adrenal support. While exercise is a sure fire way to balance your body and expel negative stress from the body, meditation and mindful relaxation are also great mood balancers, as well.
- Calcium Deficiency
- Fatty Acid Deficiency
- Depleted Self-Worth
While all foods in moderation is quite normal – if you find yourself constantly over-indulging in fatty foods, you know your body is out of balance. Cravings for things like peanut butter, oils or fried foods often relate to a calcium deficiency as saturated fats are necessary to help maintain calcium in the body and build bone density. However, the wrong fatty foods can leave you feeling bloated – perpetuating your body’s desire to sink into lethargy and despair.
On a spiritual level, you may be craving fatty foods because you have yet to accept your own importance, and feel the need to keep the full reality of your power squashed down by physical discomfort. In this instance, your cravings are probably coming from a wounded ego, looking to perpetuate old hurts and a reduced sense of self worth.
- Omega 3's (EPA and DHA) – Flax oil, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts
- Sesame seeds
Accepting our own authenticity and importance frees our power and allows us to go against social norms that cultivate insecurity. Through articulating our experience and understanding ourselves better, it’s possible to see how beautiful we really are, and how much we have to give the world. This releases restrictions on our sense of personal power and allows a stronger mind to take back control.