Ooohhhh cravings… We have all had them and not a single person is exempt from the powers that are cravings. They come and go. To some they are frequent and to others they are infrequent. Hopefully I can offer you a different perspective on these things we call cravings.
Rather than give you a list of foods you can eat when you have cravings I would like to take this opportunity to fill you in on what cravings mean. Perhaps an understanding of what is going on with you brain and body will help us avoid cravings and furthermore not fear them. Having good alternatives to a bag of chips or candy is essential because that craving may be just around the corner and you want to have options that are healthy. For that I encourage you all to post to comments what you do when you have a craving that helps keep you focused and on track.
The transition from a diet that is high in sugar (modern western diet) to a diet that filled with paleolithic carbohydrates will likely carry with it some episodes of sugar cravings. Why is this? Well, in case you haven’t already figured this out, sugar is addictive. Seriously, sugar comes complete with withdrawl symptoms and effects on our serotonin levels. Changing your diet away from these foods will yield cravings because you body is used to and addicted to a particular feeling from the sugar.
The good news is that over time our brain will reset, our taste preferences do come back to normal. But on that note, the more frequently you feed your body those sweet things, the harder it is and the more drawn out the process of resetting your brain becomes. This is an important time to bring up artificial sweeteners and natural sweeteners too. I know they are Zero Calorie, but the fact is that they keep us addicted to sweet. They keep our brain from resetting to the point where it enjoys and craves healthy options. This doesn’t even touch the fact that evidence is out in the research world that artificial sweeteners, while calorie free, have an impact on blood hormone levels such as insulin. The bottom line is real or artificial, sweet things keep us addicted to sweet and will make the transition to healthy real food long and challenging.
Cravings can also serve as an indicator that you are not feeding yourself in the right way. I’ll expand the definition of feeding yourself beyond food. Here I’m talking about Sleep, Stress, Exercise, Hydration, and Nutrition. Any one of these things can be off and you can start to crave things. So before you go blaming your diet for your sugar cravings, take a close look at how much you slept last night. Sleep and hydration are the two primary pieces that lead to my cravings. When I’m sleep deprived I crave fruit in quantities I know my body doesn’t need or I crave extra fat that goes beyond what my body needs. For you it may be that you had a very stressful day and now the chocolate bar is looking very appealing. Use cravings as a valuable tool for you to understand your body, understand what it needs daily, and help to resolve what you are not feeding it correctly.
If you are giving your body what it needs it will not crave things. With that said there is a lag period after having a radical change to your lifestyle. When you are changing your exercise, nutrition, sleep, or stress management program there is a lag period between what you used to do and the point when your body is in harmony with the stuff you are feeding it. Keep this in mind when you wade through the first couple weeks of a dramatic shift to your diet or fitness. This will normalize over time, give it a chance.
For some more info and another perspective please read what Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple has written on this popular topic. Follow the link below.