Different Types of Cravings
Cravings are universal. We can all relate to what it feels like to be able to think of nothing other than a frosted donut or a bowl of ice-cream – and the feeling like we can’t possibly go on without it. We’ve all been there, right?
The flip side of this situation, though, is that there is far more going on inside of us than only wanting a donut. Cravings contain incredibly important messages that tell us a lot about ourselves and learning to crack the code is easier than you may think.
The truth is that there are three things that cause cravings.
Cravings are a very complex processes involving both brain chemistry and habitual patterns of behavior. A craving is almost always associated with one of these things:
- Routine or Pattern
Although we like to think we’re unique snowflakes, and always doing and thinking original thing – most of the time, we run on autopilot in a lot of ways. So, a craving can be kicked off by any sort of reminder that allows the brain to associate food with a memory.
You can think of these reminders as triggers that induce certain food seeking behavior. This usually falls into three different categories:
- Social triggers: Like when you go over to your family’s weekend dinner and scarf down large bowls of pasta and copious amounts of comfort food… not that I ever do that 😉
- Emotional triggers: Sadness, excitement, anxiety, boredom, anger, etc. These emotions are powerful triggers for food seeking behavior. These situations are what psychologists call using food as a “soothing mechanism,“ similar to how a child might suck their thumb.
- Situational triggers: Go to a ball game and you’ve got to get a hot dog. Go to the movies and you must eat popcorn and a Coca Cola slushy. Sit down to watch TV and the chips or ice cream must accompany you. These situational triggers are incredibly common.
There are a few things you can do to keep your cravings at bay.
- Make sure you are drinking enough water. Dehydration can be a trigger for cravings.
- I know it can be difficult, but make it a priority to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. Your body will function much more optimally when well rested, and you’ll be less likely to turn to caffeine or sugar for an energy boost.
- Check in with yourself before you eat and ask if you are actually hungry, or if you are eating out of boredom or habit.
- Put more “whole foods” into your diet and start cutting out processed foods.
- Keep a Food Journal for a week or two — jotting down what you eat, when, where you are and how you were feeling. This will help show you patterns that you may not even realize yet.