On regular basis clients tell me about how they struggle with cravings. Many times, it’s complains about them being a slave to sugar or chocolate.

In order to fight them,  we need to first understand what causes cravings.

What your cravings mean

Cravings can be divided in to two main groups or reasons.

1. The Physiological Aspect

With this one the main reason is about a under consumption, the minimum calorie amount hasn’t been fulfilled. This could be either because the meal they ate was too small; that they’ve gone too many hours between meals that the calorie intake over the day was too small, or that digestion is so poor that they aren’t able to digest their food properly.

This is why we reach out for these quick fixes of an energy boost that’s handy and fulfilling for that single moment of a craving.  Your body doesn’t want to starve and that’s why your brain telling you to reach for these quick energy boosting alternatives.

A good example of this is with women and their cycle. Lots of women experience cravings before getting their period. We have to deal with hormones, starting to drop down and the liver needs to break down and metabolize these hormones. It’s a time for increased energy needs. However, because women don’t consciously eat more around this time, it leads to higher amounts of cravings.

If you are a woman, you can probably relate to it.  Instead of punishing yourself with less food and more sweets, it’s suggested for women to eat more during this time. Because if you do so, the cravings won’t be as intense or even appearing in the first place.

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2. The Emotional Aspect

People are using food as a way to deal with feelings that haven’t been felt. Many people live their lives without experiencing their feelings fully. Unsorted thoughts lead to emotions that don’t get taken care of and consequently food becomes the caretaker of this.  One of the common reasons is for this is when people feel that they have lost the control and need to take it back. Or as a distraction, because they’re bored. Or to numb themselves because they’re upset. Foods become the caretaker.

This is often a learned behavior. It’s not uncommon for parents to reward children with food. The child is told that if they are good or behave they’ll get a chocolate. When they do, they aren’t just given the chocolate and that’s it. They’re told how good they were and how proud they are. This memory and experience then gets embedded so chocolate isn’t only something sweet and tasty, it also takes the child back to those emotions and these experiences.

It’s common to mix these two main reasons for cravings and beat ourselves up, due to that we believe that the craving is caused by a bad willpower,  when it in many cases is caused by the physiological aspect, meaning that we are running low on calories, rather than eating due to a lack of felt or experiences emotions.

How to deal with your cravings:

Start with the physiological aspect first.
First of all, stop with the food rules about “good” and “bad” foods and thinking in absolute terms. Because it doesn’t serve you in any way, it just makes you obsessed and takes a lot of energy.

Removing the rules, doesn’t make people lose their sense of taste and they can still fancy some chocolate or cake or whatever their “treat” foods are. However, there is a difference with their level of desire and they are no longer paralyzed in their need.

If focusing on the physiological aspect doesn’t help to remove the extreme cravings. Then, it’s time to dive in to the emotional aspects. This normally involves looking at their coping mechanisms. The goal is, over time, is to reduce the need of reaching for food, in order to handle unsorted or felt emotions.

Focus on the root cause and try to figure out why you are having that craving. Perhaps some unsolved situation during the week, something that happened in the past that you haven’t taken care of or even something happens in the nearest future that might cause a feeling of dissatisfaction.

Don’t forget that The BeYou Team is a great source for this, with life coaches and health coaches, to listen to you and help you through any obstacle, doubt or situation where you feel hopeless.