I’ve been on a much more healthy path over the last few months, but I still struggle with food cravings. Because I’m a woman, I have the luxury of blaming some of those cravings on hormones. But what other things cause us to have cravings? Sometimes, when I eat one particular food I automatically crave another. For example – if I eat fast food, I crave pop. If I don’t eat the fast food, I have far fewer pop cravings. It’s literally that simple. But not necessarily easy. Breaking a food habit can be extremely difficult. Especially if there is an underlying reason for wanting to eat that food. Sounds cryptic, right? But research shows that one of the reasons for food cravings is actually due to emotional eating.
And why do we emotionally eat? Because we can’t deal with the emotions we are having. This might be old news to some of you, but it’s a bit of a revelation to me. I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the last 6 or so months working through some of my emotions. Why do I have emotional outbursts? Why is it easy for me to go from happy to seemingly insane in a matter of moments? While I don’t know that I have all the answers yet, I think there is definitely a correlation between my eating habits and my emotions.
So where is the link to cravings, you ask? Cravings are a sign that something isn’t right. Last night, for example, all I wanted to do was eat cake and chocolate. I paced around my kitchen and dining room in an attempt to find something to substitute to help curb the craving. But nothing did. Yes, I was hungry so I chose cereal and fruit. But that didn’t stop the craving. It took me some time, but I realized that the “need” for the chocolate and cake was directly related to how I was feeling last night. Which was stressed. And maybe like I didn’t have control. Now, I’m not saying that immediately the chocolate craving went away, but it was certainly didn’t seem to have such a hold on me.
According to Psychology Today, chocolate gives us a “feel good” feeling. So it only makes sense that my body was fighting the stress by looking for a way to combat it. In the past, I probably would have eaten an entire McCains chocolate cake (I think that’s a Canadian reference), but not any more. Would that have made me feel better? Maybe for a couple of hours, but I would have woke up in the morning with a carb hangover. Another source indicates that craving chocolate might be a sign of low magnesium.
What other cravings might you have, and what could they mean? According to Women’s Health a craving for salty snacks such as potato chips often mean that chronic stress might be taking a toll on your adrenal glands. Again, this is interesting for me, and something I wish I knew a couple of years ago. Chips were my snack of choice in my previous relationship. I was extremely stressed out, and was having health issues related to my adrenal glands. (This was discovered post-break up) Either way, I couldn’t get enough of salty junk. How to curb this craving? Reduce the amount of stress in your life. Maybe that’s easier said than done. But I know myself, I crave these types of food far less now.
And finally – a cheese craving. Again, I used to crave cheese like it was my job. According to Women’s Health, this is a sign that you’re lacking in Omega 3 Fatty Acid’s. Another revelation that I would like to share is that I was extremely deficient in this particular area. And the result has been far fewer cravings around cheese.
Now don’t get me wrong, but not all cravings mean that there is something off. I have spent many years not addressing the feelings that I have. Or even acknowledging that they exist. In highschool, a friend once told me that I had emotions like a tap. In which, I could turn them on or off. I liked the thought of that. I liked appearing to have a tough exterior, and in many situations, I still come across that way. But the downside of that has been that I turned to food instead. Instead of saying – I’m angry with you because, I picked up a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and went to town.
I slowly put weight on over the years, and blamed it on other things. Inactivity, stress, poor life situations etc., but the truth was that I was emotionally eating. I let my cravings get the better of me. During times of great stress, I could always count on my parents for assistance. Often staying with them to help get me through. What is interesting about these times, is that I actually lost weight. I often thought it was the stress of the situation just causing me to eat less. But the truth is that I had someone making food choices for me. I would eat whatever they were cooking, and I wouldn’t think twice about it. I wouldn’t necessarily “need” to eat anything except what they had in the house. And they aren’t snackers by any means. There is very little that one could indulge in.
Maybe you don’t have the luxury of having someone making food choices for you, but can see a correlation between that and my more healthy eating habits. Maybe it’s accountability, or the feeling that everything is going to be ok, but I don’t have the same cravings in those situations. I encourage you to see if there is a correlation between your emotions and your eating habits. Think about your craving the next time it creeps up. Stop for a moment and consider what else might be going on around you. It’s taken me many years to get to this point, so don’t think that a few observations will cure you, but it certainly can’t hurt.