Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Health Advice: What do my food cravings mean?

Q: I will admit, I get food cravings.  Sometimes they are after work with wanting a salty treat like chips/pretzels.  Other times they are probably more hormonal based when wanting a chocolate dessert.  What do my cravings mean and how can I cope?

A: Great question!  Many people struggle with food craving like you have expressed.  The three common ones would be for salt, sugar and carbs.  Usually eating more protein and fats in our diet will help correct this imbalance.  

However, it's not always easy to recognize when we are hungry compared to having a food craving.  Sometimes our body is actually thirsty and we confuse this for hunger too.  

Below is a helpful food chart that provides some solutions to alternative food choices when craving hit:

Image result for food craving meaning

Most of the time there is an emotional connection to the foods we crave.  Remember back in the day being a kid and the times you got ice cream as a treat from your parents?  Or that first time you had coffee and felt your day was more successful?  Yes, food is powerful.  It sends chemicals to your brain and has a rewards system already built in.  No wonder we want certain foods on a regular basis.  

Here are some common emotional themes I notice in clients:

  1. Baked sweets/chocolate/ice cream (joy/love) 
Read a good book, take a walk on your lunch hour, go for a weekly massage or plan a date night (even if its just with yourself).  This is a great time to break out your bucket list and get back to hobbies you used to love such as knitting, painting or sports.  Even volunteering or donating a box of belongings to those in need can be beneficial to help spread the love. 
  1. Caffeine (needing more rest/meditation)
What to be more mentally sharp?  Go to a yin yoga class, book a massage or even just get into a better sleep habit.  Allow your brain to shut off with some hypnosis or meditation.  Break out a coloring book or take a relaxing bath.  Anything to soothe your mind and ease back into your busy life works well.
  1. Spicy (action/adventure)
Try something new like a trampoline class, archery, or hot air balloon ride.  Plan a vacation or road trip.  Get out there and enjoy the world even if its just having some frog legs or sea urchin at a restaurant down the street.
  1. Crunchy/Salty (attention/repressed anger) 
Try writing out your emotions in a journal, going for a run (anything highly physical), or go out for some karaoke.  Anything that can help you express yourself better or put you in the spotlight. 
  1. Carbs/Starch (comfort/companionship)
Call up a friend, join a support group, or talk to a therapist.  Pop in your favorite movie, take the dog for a walk, and plan an impromptu dinner party.  Do what makes you feel connected to the world and other humans.