Why do we crave certain things? Coffee, chocolate, alcohol, something salty or sweet…? Sometimes we crave these things for the simple reason that they make us feel “good”. Satisfying emotional cravings is often confused for an actual food craving. Every food has it’s own chemical makeup and in turn, each one affects our brains differently. Often the desire to induce a different state of mind is a strong one, especially if we are in a place emotionally that is difficult to sit with. For me, it was the perfect storm, I was increasingly fatigued, which I attempted to cover up with coffee. At the same time, I suspected something was wrong with my health, so I chose to soothe myself with massive amounts of chocolate, which in turn left me with a weight problem. With all of this on my plate (so to speak), I was feeling terribly depressed, so I used wine and junk food to try and disassociate from the mess I was in. It was easier to keep pretending things were “fine” and drown myself in these substances, than it was to face the harsh reality that I needed an over-haul. The sicker I got, the more I craved these things. I wanted the energy the coffee provided, I wanted the soothing effects of chocolate, and I definitely wanted the numbing agent of the alcohol. What I didn’t know was that my body was craving not only on an emotional level, but a physical one as well. Cravings are the body’s solution to underlying imbalances, and food becomes a sort of medicine to correct our current inner state. In essence our cravings signal nutritional deficiency.
You see, our bodies must stay balanced in order to survive, a yin-yang phenomenon where the body self-regulates by constantly attempting to keep things in harmony. If we get tipped over too far to one side or the other, the body will ask for that food that will help regulate things. It’s why after we eat something salty, we crave something sweet, the two help balance each other out. Here are some typical cravings and the root cause:
Craving for sweets is often emotional: try to satisfy it with sweet alternatives, like fruit, or even sweet vegetables like corn, sweet potatoes, etc.. You can also use low-glycemic sweeteners like brown rice syrup or dates.
Here is a recipe that is guaranteed to satisfy your sweet craving without spiking your blood sugar or ingesting a bunch of fillers and preservatives. Date with a Bee
Cravings for Salty foods: this often signals a mineral deficiency. Since our standard table salt has been processed and stripped of all vital nutrients and minerals, we often crave salty foods, but never achieve a higher mineral status our bodies are looking for. Instead go for mineral rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables
Here is a recipe for Kale chips that will provide much needed minerals and also a salty snack flavor. You can also purchase a high-mineral salt such as a good quality sea salt or Himalayan salt which is chock full of minerals.
Cravings for Bitter foods: bitter foods include coffee and dark beer, and often signals a lack of proper digestion, which can lead to stagnation in your detoxifying organs like your liver. Try more foods that promote detoxification, these are all of the dark leafy greens as well as cruciferous veggies like broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Here is a great roasted Brussel Sprouts recipe with a tangy mustard sauce that everyone will love.
Craving something Spicy?: this indicates a stagnancy in the body, but before you reach for that bright orange Thai chili sauce that’s loaded with sugar. Try some red pepper flakes, or even a diced fresh jalapeno or some ground cayenne, which has many health benefits.
Here is a recipe for my Veggie Thai Noodles that is sure to add some spice to your life.
So, next time you have an undeniable craving, stop and ask yourself what it is your body is really needing. Are you stressed out and just looking for a distraction with that trip to the pizza joint, or do you have an undeniable craving for a Guinness for no apparent reason?…Then, consider giving your craving 24 hours, all while eating normally. Sometimes, especially if it is emotional, the craving will simply go away, but if it is still there the next day, honor it by choosing a healthy food that will help satisfy what your body needs.