Understanding Your Food Cravings

Becoming a Food Cravings Whisperer:

How to Tune In and Listen to Your Body

mindful eating.jpg

Food cravings can be difficult to manage, understand and cope with effectively. Learning to listen to your body and integrating mindful and intuitive eating practices will help you become a food cravings whisperer. Mindless eating distracts your attention away from the present moment, while mindful eating is being fully present with your food and its impact on your mind and body. When you eat mindfully, you are able to fully savor your food as well as the present moment.

Intuitive eating is learning to listen to your body and requires the ability to tune in to the messages from your body, respect it and care for it. Many of us live in a space of being disconnected from our body. Judging our bodies and perceiving judgements from others creates and perpetuates the disconnection and negative feelings. We can harp on wanting to change this or that physical feature which creates a sense of internal and external discontent and is not a useful way to be with yourself.

Learning to be both intuitive and mindful with food, your body and the present moment in an integrative manner allows you to understand the messages that your body sends you through food cravings. If your current perspective on food cravings is that they are a problem, try to reframe it in this way: the specific food craving is powerful message from your body about what your body needs.

When you think about it, your body is truly amazing, it is always there for you. Your heart never skips a beat, your organs of digestion do their best to digest whatever food you eat, your lungs continue to breathe. Your body is working hard at all times to maintain homeostasis, to keep you in a state of health, balance, wellness and ease.

When we give our bodies half a chance it will heal itself and remain in balance. So, is there something wrong with your body if you experience a craving for chocolate, pizza or ice cream? Try viewing these cravings not as problems, but as information, messages from your body-mind about what it needs.

A craving for something sweet could mean that you are dehydrated, you need more protein, that you need more exercise, that you ate sugar recently and it is a blood sugar balance concern. Sugar cravings may also indicate that you really need more sweetness—not from food but from pleasure and connection—in your life. The key to managing the craving for something sweet is to allow yourself to truly tune into your body-mind and understand what you really need. This requires both listening to your intuition while being mindfully engaged with the present moment.

When you are eating a significant amount of refined foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol or foods with little to no nutritional value, you are essentially confusing your body. Our bodies are designed to thrive on whole foods and it knows how to assimilate the nutrients from whole foods quite efficiently.

These other addictive or non-food foods (like soft drinks, candy and highly processed foods) throw your body out of balance and create cravings. If you just ate, your body anticipates that it will digest that food and receive nutrients to build cells that make up all aspects of your physical body including your muscles, bones, tissues and organs. If you feed your body foods lacking in nutrients it is confusing to your body.

The more that your food is whole and healthy, the more your body will remain in balance. This essentially offers you a healthier, happier life. Your choices are a reflection of what is occurring internally. Use this information to reflect on how you feel about yourself and how you can truly nourish yourself, your mind and body in a healthy manner.

Cultivating a healthy relationship with your body is key. If you have been making negative comments about your body, judging your body and disconnecting from your body, this may be a challenge. However, it is a challenge worth accepting! Of all the relationships in your life, your relationship with yourself and your body is most important, it is your foundational relationship. Just like any healthy relationship, it takes communication, dedication, compassion, respect and time to create and maintain.

The next time you have a food craving, treat it like a message from your body. Tune into your body, listen, evaluate the what and the why of this valuable message from your body. Ask yourself these questions to help hone your intuition:

-What happened in your life just before this craving?

-Is there a nutrient you’ve been lacking in your daily meals (fiber, vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, fat)?

-How many vegetables and fruits have you eaten today?

-How much water have you had today?

-Have you been restricting certain foods?

-Have you been having negative thoughts or feelings about yourself or your body?

-Why do you want this particular food?

-Are you hungry?

-Are you bored?

-Are you lonely?

-Are you tired?

-How is your energy?

-Have you been isolating yourself?

Asking yourself these questions allows you to have greater self-awareness and will help you create self-compassion and gain a deeper understanding of each of your specific and individual cravings. The more in-tune you are with your body, the more aware you are of your emotions, the more you will trust your intuition.

When you engage in intuitive eating, you create a deep sense of awareness of your body. When you engage in mindful eating, you have a deep sense of pleasure derived from food as well as your hunger and full cues. When you practice both intuitive and mindful eating together you create freedom and peace within your own personal mind-body experience.

When you learn to tune into your body, your life and ask—and then listen, you will feel your relationship with yourself improve. When you feel more in-tune with yourself and your body, you will develop this deeper understanding of your cravings and what you truly need. Try listening, be patient for the answers and notice the impact on your choices around food as well as within your life.