Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Cravings can be caused by a number of things, which we will talk about here.
Now, if you're anything like me, you know that certain times of the month can cause cravings and certain seasons cause cravings as well as a number of other factors, but maybe you don't understand entirely why it is that you crave certain foods or what is really going on within your body.
The following is taken from my Podcast - The Healthy Celiac Podcast. If you would prefer to listen to the episode, you can do so Here
Perhaps you are unaware that what is going on around you can also cause these cravings.
Because what happens is many people beat themselves up thinking that they have a lack of willpower or that they're weak, or that they just can't stick to dieting, or you know, that they're never going to lose weight because they don't have any willpower because they're constantly craving fatty food or chocolate.
So I'm going to explain to you some of the reasons why we have cravings and it might just help you shift your mindset and be able to focus on replacing the way that you crave food. Because then you will have an answer to why you're craving food in the first place and be able to eliminate that issue before it even happens.
Here are the Top 7 Reasons for Cravings
Dehydration is probably the number one reason that most people crave food. And it's really, really crazy because it's so simple and it's easily preventable . I've talked to you before about making sure you drink lots of water and what it does for you and how it can help with feeling less fatigued for example. But the thing is when your body starts to get dehydrated, your body is being sent a message. Before you realize that you've got to that point of dehydration, that you are hungry and you're not actually hungry. So the thing is, people go too long without drinking water. And next thing they know, they think they're hungry. So they reach for food and it doesn't satisfy them. But then they reach for something else and that still doesn't satisfy them. And then before they know it, they've gone on this massive binge of food and they still don't feel satisfied. And it's simply that they just need to hydrate their body and they just need to have a big glass of water. Sometimes I even see that in my own children, that they just want to keep eating. And then I realise... "Hey, hang on a minute. Your water bottle is downstairs and you're upstairs. And I haven't seen you drink any water for awhile . Dude, go get your water. And then come back to me and see if you're still hungry". And more often than not, that's as simple as it is. They just needed to have a drink of water. So give it a go and drink more water during the day. You may just find that could be your main cause of what's creating those cravings for you.
So when we talk about lifestyle, let's talk about what's going on in your life as far as relationships go or perhaps even your workplace. If you're dissatisfied, if you're not happy, perhaps you're reaching for food to make you feel better. Many people attempt to use food to replace that feeling that you should be getting from doing rewarding work or from being in a loving relationship. So if you are dissatisfied, that's when perhaps you are craving for something else, such as craving for love and attention if you're not getting that from your partner. Instead, maybe you're finding that in a block of chocolate or at the bottom of a packet of chips. So lifestyle is a big one. It's very important to look at why you are reaching for certain foods at certain times of the day.
One of my past clients had a major craving for cheese and we needed to work out what was causing this. So I got her to keep a food diary and work out why she was craving the cheese and when it was happening. And what it came down to was the moment she walked through her front door from getting home from work, she was coming home to an empty home that she wasn't happy in and she would go straight to the refrigerator and she would grab out the cheese and she would pig out on cheese. And as soon as she told me that she had an 'aha' moment and she realised, "Oh wow, it's not about the cheese. It's about my home life". My client was able to make some changes at home and the cheese cravings went away. It's really interesting that sometimes we don't even associate that those cravings come from our lifestyle and what's going on within our lives. This is an area that is definitely something to look into and why I love how a Food Diary can support you.
The Yin Yang theory is based on Chinese philosophy. It is a carefully designed system of opposites, used to describe and simplify all situations, including food and lifestyle. Yin and Yang balance each other out. So if you eat something that's incredibly Yin compared to Yang , you will crave the opposite. For example, you've had something that's really rich in sugar, that's quite Yin, then that may cause a big craving for something that is Yang, such as meat. Often if you're having too much of one thing, it can cause you to crave something else and you've not even realised it. Another way to think of it is you go out and you have a pizza and it's really fatty and oily and you might crave something really sweet such as Coke to go with it. The way I think of it, pizza and Coke go together. It's just something that works together. And that's the reason why, because they're balancing each other out. Not the healthiest option mind you ;)
4. The Past Coming Out
Cravings can also occur because of food that we've had either recently or throughout our lives or in our younger years. So just say you haven't eaten chocolate for such a long time. And then you get given a massive box of chocolates at Christmas time and you think, "Oh, I'm just going to have a couple of those chocolates tonight and that will be fine". And you sit down and you have a couple of chocolates. And then the next night you think, "Oh, I really want some more of those chocolates". And it's because you've just had them recently and your body is craving them because you've had the chocolate back in your life.
If through your childhood, there was a particular food that you had, you may crave it as an adult. For example, when I was a kid growing up, I loved cereal for breakfast. And one of my favorite cereals was definitely Sultana Bran. And another one was Weet-Bix....very basic, but I loved them. And when I found out I had Celiac Disease, I couldn't have them anymore because they weren't gluten free . When Weet-Bix released a gluten-free version (going back quite a few years now) I was all excited because it was one of my childhood foods that I could have again. And honestly, some mornings I wake up and I just want to have that nice warming bowl of Weet-Bix with some honey and a sliced up banana on there. And it just takes me back to my childhood. So that can be one thing that we do as well, because it makes us feel good. We are craving that going back into our past which very interesting how that works.
Often what happens when the seasons change is, we crave different foods. Many people beat themselves up over this one because they think that it's their fault and that it's wrong. When working with clients for 6 months, I would see them over a couple of seasons. So let's just say, for example, I would work with a client and we would meet up first in summer and they'd be eating really well. They'd be eating their salads for lunch, with some protein and be having smoothies. And they'd be doing all these wonderful things that they found super easy. And then as the weather started to cool off, they would sound really disappointed during our sessions because there were no longer wanting to eat salads or they were no longer wanting to make a smoothie for in the afternoon. And they were beating themselves up over it because they thought that they'd just come to the end of it. And they thought that they couldn't do it anymore. I would then explain to them, that no, this is normal. This is what happens because our body actually craves what it needs seasonally. So if you think about it, if it's winter, you're not going to be craving cucumber because cucumber is a cooling vegetable. It's a hydrating vegetable and it cools you down. What do you want to do in winter instead? You want to warm yourself up, don't you? It's not as natural to want to eat a salad or to drink a smoothie that has frozen fruit and ice in it and make yourself feel cold from the inside out. So what happens is we need to look at that and go, right? Okay. So now it's winter. I don't want to have a smoothie. I don't want to have a salad. What else can I have that's full of vegetables?Well, a no brainer is a bowl of soup or some vegetables that are cooked, perhaps some roast veggies.
It's not that there's anything wrong with us. It's our body working perfectly with nature and doing exactly what it needs to do to keep us warm in winter and cool in summer. But when we're not aware of these things, we don't think about it enough then we don't do what's right by our body. We do what's right by what we think we should be doing. So it's very different to do what we think we should be doing compared to what our body naturally wants to do.
6. Lack of Nutrients
If your body is lacking any nutrients, you will crave food that makes up for those nutrients. So for example, if you're low in iron, you are likely to crave red meat. If you're a meat eater, because your body naturally needs to, you know , heighten your iron levels . So it's natural for your body to crave having more meat. If you, for example, are low in magnesium, then you're probably going to reach for chocolate. And that's completely normal because chocolate is going to fix that craving, but you might feel bad about it because it might go on and on and on. And you're not realizing that your actually doing the right thing by your body, eating that chocolate and giving your body what it needs. Obviously there's different kinds of chocolate. There's healthy chocolate. And then there's, you know , sugar loaded chocolate. That's got all a whole heap of other stuff in it. So that may not necessarily be the best choice, but it's just good to know that our bodies are very, very intelligent and often, you know, we don't, we ain't thinking of about what we're doing and what we're putting into our mouth before it happens. So when you can understand that these cravings are there for a reason and that if we balance them out and we do the best by our body, then we can eliminate craving the not so healthy foods and then not so great options for our health.
Most of us women know that during menstruation that we have a major loss of blood and our bodies change, and it messes with our hormones and our testosterone and estrogen levels are causing major issues as far as the cravings go. So it's just part of nature and there's obviously the better options that we can reach for and the not so great options. Therefore it's about educating yourself and knowing what is best for your body and understanding that these cravings are there to teach you and to support you. And you can go about it one way or we can go about it the other way. And the best way to do it is to have an awareness of your cravings. And I recommend the best way to get on top of your cravings is to keep a food diary for a little while and , and just write down what you are eating, write down what time of the month it is, write down when these cravings are happening, what's going on in your life and your moods and those types of things, whether you're drinking enough water, and you'll start to see a pattern, you'll start to see where your cravings are coming in, and it will help you if you're on a weight loss journey, because you'll be able to stop beating yourself up over why you're doing certain things and start to balance them out.
I truly hope that this helps you with understanding your cravings. If you have any questions or comments, please be sure to pop them below.
If you are a scroller and scrolled straight to the bottom of this article, here is a recap of the Top 7 Cravings for you.
1. Dehydration 2. Lifestyle 3. Imbalances 4. The Past Coming Out 5. Seasonal 6. Lack of Nutrients 7 Hormones